Filling teacher vacancies with quality substitutes is key to advancing student achievement, but ensuring those substitutes are prepared to effectively lead their classrooms is a process that begins well before those vacancies arise.
“You want to make sure they’re trained,” said Tricia Griffith, staffing coordinator at Hays Consolidated Independent School District (Hays CISD) in Kyle, Texas. “You don’t want to throw people in there and have them not be successful.”
Tricia uses online tools, such as Recruit & Hire — TalentEd’s applicant tracking system — and Records — TalentEd’s automated recordkeeping and process management solution — to create a paperless onboarding experience that prepares newly hired substitutes to handle their responsibilities at Hays CISD.
“I have it set up so that all of it is very seamless. At every point, they have to click another link to get to the next step,” Tricia said. “Once I push the ‘hire’ button, it pushes out all their electronic forms for Records. And I’ve made electronic forms for how they choose their campuses and how they can pick what classifications they want to go into. Once they’ve completed all the steps, they’re able to register for their own orientation.”
But Tricia knows that strategic onboarding goes beyond a simple orientation.
“They do a three-and-a-half-hour orientation with me, but they also participate in a 20-hour online training program,” she explained. “We make sure they’re all set up and ready to go before they enter the classroom.”
According to Melva Cárdenas, strategic education advisor at TalentEd and former teacher, principal and HR executive director, that kind of preparation is critical.
“A substitute should not just be a placeholder. Instruction should not stop because a teacher is absent,” she said, adding that substitutes must “be prepared to deliver instruction, so the students are not skipping a day of learning. They will actually just continue with the normal flow of instruction and learning as if the teacher were there.”
In addition to the instructional benefits, effective substitute onboarding plays an important role in retaining substitutes.
“We can hire them, but if we don’t give them an effective onboarding process, there’s a possibility that they may not feel like they have the tools to effectively do their jobs,” Melva said. “And by not effectively doing their jobs, they may lose interest and leave the district.”
If the demand for substitutes continues to increase as it has in past years, Melva points out, that ability to keep qualified, onboarded instructors returning to your district will also be key to student learning.