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What to do when substitutes cancel last minute

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No matter how well you plan for it, there will always be last minute substitute cancellations. While these disruptions can become very stressful, it’s important to stay calm and figure out how best to handle the situation as professionally as possible, while proactively planning to protect your time and students should it happen again in the future. 

Why do subs cancel last minute?

More often than not, substitutes don’t want to have to cancel, especially at the last minute. Outside of teaching, substitutes have personal matters and families of their own that will sometimes take precedent over teaching. Although it may put schools in a tough spot, it’s important to remember that for most, substitute teaching is a side gig that is meant to fit into their lives. And, when you work with Swing, we will do our best to pair you with another Swing Sub as quickly as we can.

How Swing is addressing the problem

We understand how frustrating these last minute cancellations can be. Not only are you down a full-time educator, but your backup fell through as well. At Swing, we’re proactively addressing the root of the problem by helping subs understand the impact of their actions, ideally leading to fewer last-minute cancellations. 

Because substitute teachers may not necessarily understand the implications of canceling at the last minute, we’re taking extra steps to educate them. Our new pop-up messaging reminds subs of the impact their last minute change has on schools, as well as alerting them that canceling may impact their sub rating, visibility of job requests, and could lead to permanent removal from the platform. 

Additionally, subs receive last minute cancellation penalties — a negative mark that impacts their ability to access requests on the platform. As their scores lower, the more difficult it is for them to find new jobs.

Although it doesn’t make up for the last minute inconvenience, we want to do everything we can to ensure a smooth school day and partnership moving forward. In addition to issuing a new request for the absence, our Response and Resolutions Team is always available to help. Whether they’re able to offer compensated fills, a discounted rate, or a refund, be sure to reach out for additional support.

Can last minute cancellations be prevented?

Unfortunately, when it comes to last minute cancellations, there’s not a lot schools can do.

However, as your partner, we do everything in our power to ensure you’re still covered for the day.

While your first instinct may be to panic, take a moment to regroup with a few deep breaths. Practice empathy — there could be a perfectly legitimate reason behind the cancellation. While that doesn’t necessarily help your last minute scramble, reframing will make it easier to handle the situation.

Next, put in a request for a new substitute as soon as possible. Although day-of fills are challenging, there are always substitutes looking to pick up work.

With these new adjustments to our cancellation process, we expect to see fewer last minute changes. We hope to encourage substitutes to pause and consider the impact of last minute cancellations and take responsibility so that student learning never stops.

Of course, there will always be circumstances where last minute cancellations are inescapable, however, with the Swing platform, finding a replacement shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge!

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Anatomy of a successful substitute request

To find substitutes that fit your community and want to return to your district, there are concrete steps you can take to make your sub assignments as attractive as possible.