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    To retain great substitute teachers, focus on nurturing the relationship.

    The pandemic put a spotlight on what many of us in the field of education already knew: there’s a national teacher shortage. The demand for substitute teachers has climbed dramatically, with some schools asking Kelly Education for double and triple the number they'd previously requested in a typical year. How can you attract and retain a healthy workforce? We find that building a welcoming culture creates success.

    Teachers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to deciding where and how they want to work. This means schools and districts are often competing for the best. In fact, it's so competitive that individual principals are feeling pressure to persuade substitute teachers to choose their school. 

    We hear many stories about substitute teacher experiences and can tell you the secret to attracting and keeping them: it’s all about creating a positive experience.

    Here’s what we suggest for administrators who are struggling to attract and retain qualified subs.

    Create a substitute-friendly culture. When a guest educator arrives (especially if it’s their first time in a school), make sure they get a warm welcome from the school principal or someone designated to get them set up for the day. This could include an overview of the school, key processes, and class lesson plans. We recommend that someone be assigned to check on a substitute teacher to see how things are going and ensure they have everything needed to be successful. This positive partnership is beneficial for the school, principal, the substitute teacher, and the community. Remember—most substitute teachers want the opportunity to contribute to their communities.

    Set them up for success. Substitute educators want to be supported in ways that allow them to teach, not just keep order in the classroom. For that, they need access to all tools and resources like updated lesson plans, training on applicable technology platforms, and they need a resource who can help them with questions or concerns. If at the end of the day they feel like they’ve done a good job and are valued, they’ll be more likely to return.

    Foster the relationship. Get to know the individual who is coming to help you. What do they do for fun? What are they passionate about? Substitute teachers have the same basic needs as everyone else—to feel valued, recognized, and a sense of belonging. If you treat them accordingly, they are more likely to pick up that hard-to-fill assignment.

    Provide a safe environment.  Just as you do for students, faculty , and staff, make sure that substitute teachers feel physically safe as they enter and exit the building and the grounds. Just having to navigate an unfamiliar campus can be stressful.

    Offer competitive pay. While creating that positive experience is crucial, competitive pay is also very important. Pay rates are typically determined by the district. You should be conducting a local wage analysis each year—especially if retention is an issue.

    Many of these recommendations may seem basic and fairly easy to achieve. However, administrators often overlook them. If done consistently, they make a huge difference.

    How we can help.

    At Kelly Education, we’re passionate about connecting people to meaningful, life-changing work. As the nation’s largest provider of education talent, we supply and support the people who make learning happen. Every day we help 10,000+ education partners address their recruiting, hiring, and workforce management needs. 

    View Related: K-12 School Districts

    You need the best and brightest.

    We can help solve your most complex talent challenges – both today and in the future – by delivering high–quality talent that moves education forward.

    Contact us at 800.Kelly.01 and one of our agents will administer your request. Or, if you'd prefer, fill out the form to submit an email.

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