From Substitute to Full-Time: Promoting Temp Teachers to Full-Time Faculty

Drew Whitehurst | April 12, 2024

For K-12 school students, staff, and faculty alike, finding good substitute teachers is essential. Quality subbing for absent teachers ensures a seamless educational environment for students, a lighter load for overburdened full-time teachers, and more time for administrators to focus on their own duties.

But staffing substitute teachers isn’t easy. And finding the best ones is even harder.

For this reason, tapping into your network of trustworthy substitute or supply teachers is a great way to fill teaching vacancies in your school when they arise. In fact, it’s a great way to accomplish two feats in one: rewarding and recognizing quality educators and hiring full-time teachers in a challenging talent market.

As we’ve often discussed, an acute teacher shortage is plaguing schools across the US and Canada. Recruiting top talent is no small feat. But there are tools and techniques to help you fill teaching jobs in your school.

Nurturing the substitute/supply teachers you, and your students, already know and love is one of them.

So, how do you do it? Let’s take a look at how you can convert your substitutes into full-time faculty members, ensuring smooth transitions for your schools, career growth opportunities for talented educators, and a positive experience for students.


Identifying the Potential for Greatness (and Permanence)

When it comes to choosing a sub when one is needed, you probably have a few names you like to reach out to first. Pulling from that top roster is always a simple, effective, and positive experience.

Some key qualities of truly exceptional substitute teachers might include:

  • Adaptability: These pros are always ready to hit the ground running, across different grade levels and classrooms—wherever they’re needed. They’re also comfortable walking into school ready to manage lesson plans from different teaching styles, or even incomplete lesson plans in hurried situations.
  • Resilience: Students can be tough on supply teachers, and so can circumstances! But the pros are ready to guide classwork and manage whatever dynamic they find with a positive attitude, humility, and patience—plus, a ready smile and a good chuckle when it’s warranted.
  • Reliability: Their schedules might not be completely open, but when they say they’ll be there—they’re there. Ready to go. You don’t have to worry when one of these educators is on board to pitch in for the day (or the week).
  • Deep knowledge: Because they’re excellent at classroom management, good substitutes can keep students on task based on another teacher’s lesson plan. But they also have the knowledge and expertise in their grade levels and subjects to answer unexpected questions (or point students in the right direction, if necessary).

Does someone quickly come to mind when you read that description? If so, make sure they’re on your list of contacts next time an open role becomes available. They might just be your next full-time teacher.


Providing Growth Opportunities for Substitute Teachers

Many supply teachers come from professional educational backgrounds, but either haven’t found a full-time role in their desired geography or had to take a break from full-time work based on personal circumstances.

Substitute teachers in these categories might be looking for opportunities to grow their careers and move into full-time positions. But when that isn’t possible, they’d likely love to tap into other development opportunities your district can offer. And it’s a win-win because honing their skills in this way can only make them more effective in your classrooms.

For this reason, don’t overlook your substitute/supply teachers when you’re building and managing development opportunities like mentorship programs, facilitating additional degrees or certifications, offering leadership roles, and more. They can make a great addition to curriculum review committees, sports or arts programs, extracurricular activities, and other ways to get plugged into the school community and develop new skills.

The more they can get involved and pursue their interests in your district, the more likely they are to be excited about a full-time role down the road.


Streamlining the Transition from Part-time to Full-time

When you want to bring a substitute teacher on for a full-time role, don’t make the mistake of assuming their pre-existing familiarity with your school will take the place of a formal candidate or onboarding experience.

Make sure you provide clear pathways for supply teachers to explore your open roles and apply for any that appeal to them. For example, can you offer an email subscription to interested subs so they can see which roles become available in your district week-to-week?

You can also create a formal recognition and mentorship network between substitutes who are interested in growing their roles. Use it to facilitate development opportunities, networking conversations, and feedback loops to help your district administrators feel more connected to the best talent already on hand.

Once a substitute does fill an open role, you can lean into what they already know—and don’t treat them like a brand-new hire starting from scratch. Schedule some time to sit down with them and ask what questions they have. Make sure they have access to all the internal resources they’ll need—including benefits information and important points of contact for their department, school, and district or board.


Lay the Framework for Your Substitute Promotion Plans

If you haven’t already begun implementing programs and strategies like these to help your school’s best subs and supply teachers feel connected, engaged, and encouraged to apply for full-time roles, don’t wait any longer to get started.

Begin by assessing what framework you already have in place—and consult your substitutes for their feedback! A good survey evaluating how connected they feel to your district, their interest in their appetite for career growth (and how supported they feel in pursuing it), and the ideas they have to improve this dynamic can be invaluable.

You might even consider scheduling some video interviews with educators to help open this conversation. A tool like interviewstream can help with this process, as well as recruiting, initial hiring, internal hiring and promotions, and onboarding for new staff—from anywhere, and with the simplest scheduling mechanisms possible.

Reach out to our team today to see a quick demo on how interviewstream can you hire faster while getting a more comprehensive look at your candidates during the screening process. Or click here to learn a little more about how to combat the current teacher shortage in your school district or school board.

About The Author

Drew Whitehurst is the Director of Marketing at interviewstream. He's been with the company since 2014 working in client services and marketing. He is an analytical thinker, coffee enthusiast, and hobbyist at heart.


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