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Preparing for peak teacher absence periods

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One of the significant challenges schools face is managing teacher absences, which can disrupt the learning environment and place additional stress on both staff and students.

It’s not surprising to learn that 72% of public schools have higher teacher absenteeism now than before the pandemic. In fact, 61% report that it is “much more difficult” to find substitutes now. As a result, more than 3 in 4 public schools now “frequently” pull other teachers from their free periods or rely on administrators and non-teaching staff to cover classes when teachers miss school, creating an endless loop of classroom coverage need.

Identifying and preparing for peak teacher absence periods can help mitigate these challenges, ensuring a seamless educational experience for students. 

Here’s a guide to understanding these periods, how to prepare for them, and the benefits of partnering with organizations like Swing Education.

What are peak teacher absence periods?

Peak teacher absence periods are times during the school year when the number of teacher absences significantly increases. These periods can include:

  • Flu season: Typically from late fall to early spring, when flu and other illnesses are most common.
  • Holiday seasons: Around Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, and even the Friday before a holiday when travel and family commitments are higher. 
  • End of the school year: When teachers may take personal or professional development days as the academic year wraps up.
  • Standardized testing weeks: Teachers might be more likely to take time off to prepare for or recover from the stress of these periods.

How schools can prepare

Develop a comprehensive absence policy

Create a detailed policy outlining the procedures for reporting absences, securing substitutes, and ensuring lesson continuity. This policy should be communicated clearly to all staff members at the beginning of the school year.

Maintain a robust substitute teacher pool

Having a reliable and well-vetted list of substitute teachers is crucial. Keep this list updated and ensure substitutes are familiar with the school’s policies, procedures, and expectations.

Utilize technology

Implementing a substitute management system can streamline the process of finding and booking substitute teachers. Platforms like Swing Education can be invaluable here, offering an extensive network of qualified substitutes.

Foster a positive work environment

Encouraging a healthy work-life balance, providing professional development opportunities, and creating a supportive work culture can reduce the frequency of unplanned absences.

Plan for contingencies

Always have a contingency plan in place. This could include cross-training staff to cover for each other and having lesson plans ready for emergencies.

How Swing can help

Managing teacher absences extends beyond the classroom. Rather than pulling teachers or staff away from their primary responsibilities to cover classes, partner with a substitute teacher marketplace like Swing Education to alleviate the pressure from your school. 

With Swing you get:

Subs for your most challenging jobs

With Swing’s award-winning platform, school admins have the modern tools they need to instantly connect a unique pool of high-quality substitutes with schools that need them – for even their hardest-to-fill positions. With an avg of 34 active subs available for every request on our platform, an 18 minute typical turnaround time to fill the position, and an 81% last-minute fill rate across hundreds of thousands of requests, the only thing standing between you and the time off your teachers need is a signature. 

 An extensive network of qualified substitutes

Swing Education connects schools with a large pool of background checked and qualified substitute teachers. This ensures that you always have access to capable individuals ready to step in when needed.

Streamlined booking process

The easy-to-use Swing platform allows for quick and efficient booking of substitutes, saving time and reducing the stress of last-minute absences. It typically takes less than 30 seconds to make a request on the platform.

Proactive measures to avoid high absence rates

While it’s impossible to eliminate teacher absences entirely, certain proactive measures can help reduce their frequency:

Promote health and wellness

Encourage regular health check-ups, flu vaccinations, and healthy lifestyle choices among staff. Implement wellness programs that focus on physical and mental health.

Offer flexible scheduling

Where possible, offer flexible scheduling or personal days to help teachers manage their commitments without resorting to unplanned absences.

Recognize and reward attendance

Implementing a recognition program for excellent attendance can motivate teachers to maintain consistent attendance.

Address burnout

Regularly assess teacher satisfaction and burnout levels. Providing support, resources, and a platform for teachers to voice their concerns can significantly impact their overall well-being and attendance.

Preparing for peak teacher absence periods requires foresight, planning, and the right partnerships. By developing comprehensive policies, maintaining a robust substitute pool, utilizing technology, and fostering a supportive work environment, schools can navigate these periods with minimal disruption. Partnering with organizations like Swing Education can further enhance your ability to manage absences efficiently, ensuring a stable and effective learning environment for your students.

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