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Why transparency is the key to a successful substitute assignment

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Originally from the New Jersey area, Heavon Clark has been substitute teaching with Swing since August 2023. Currently working a permanent assignment, Heavon shared her thoughts on what she looks for in a school community, what makes a substitute teaching assignment successful, and how schools can better support their substitute teachers.

Transparency breeds confidence

Even when sub requests are filled thoroughly and with care, starting a new sub assignment can be a challenging experience. Heavon emphasized the importance of transparency from schools. From the get-go, substitutes want to know what they’re walking into. 

“If I sign up for an assignment with third graders, I don’t want to walk into a classroom with fifth graders,” she states. This transparency extends beyond just the grade level to encompass crucial details like parking availability, which can significantly impact a sub’s experience, especially in areas where parking can be scarce.

 When seeking assignments, Heavon considers the:

  • Pay rate
  • Location
  • Overall mission statement of the school
  • Age group of the students
  • Subject 

However, while Heavon can be flexible on subject matter and grade of the students, she’s really looking for community, a place where she can fit in. “Every school has its pros and cons, but with the school I’m at now, there are more pros,” she explains. “I love that this school’s administration is willing to listen to me. Sometimes as a sub, you’re only seen as a filler, but I don’t feel like a filler at this school.

“They try and make me feel as included as they possibly can. They included me in their holiday party and they ask for my opinions. They don’t just see me as someone who’s there temporarily, but as a teacher.”

Support communities foster success

Effective communication and support from school administrators are instrumental in facilitating a positive substitute teaching experience. Heaven commended Swing for the proactive approach and responsive Support team. This support contributes to a sense of belonging and empowerment amount substitute teachers.

Schools can enhance the substitute experience by offering additional resources and professional development opportunities to subs. Heavon highlighted her current schools’ initiatives, which includes workshops, trainings, and wellness programs that the substitutes can participate in. These initiatives not only benefit the substitute teachers, but also enrich the overall school community.

Substitute teaching is a dynamic and multifaceted profession that thrives on transparency, stability, support, and authenticity. By prioritizing these elements, schools can create an environment where substitutes like Heavon can flourish. Through effective communication, supportive communities, and a commitment to professional development, schools can unlock the full potential of substitute teaching, enriching the educational experience for all stakeholders involved.

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