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Hiring a Substitute Teacher: Job Description Template

By Priya Jain


Are you faced with the challenge of finding a competent Substitute Teacher to maintain the continuity of learning in your school? 

Hiring a Substitute Teacher involves more than just filling an empty classroom; it requires careful planning and consideration to ensure a smooth transition without the regular classroom instructor.

If you are part of an educational institution, understanding the steps involved and the roles to be fulfilled is essential for a successful substitute teaching experience.

We will explore the process of hiring a qualified teacher and provide you with a Substitute Teacher job description.

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Responsibilities & Role of a Substitute Teacher

Substitute Teachers are crucial in maintaining the educational environment when regular teachers are unavailable.

Here is an overview of the roles and responsibilities of a substitute teacher:

  • Classroom Management: Substitute Teachers are responsible for maintaining order and discipline in the classroom, ensuring a conducive learning environment where students can thrive. They enforce school rules and policies, helping to create a safe and respectful atmosphere that fosters learning.
  • Instructional Delivery: Substitute Teachers follow the lesson plans the regular teacher provides, ensuring that the curriculum is covered during their assignment. They also adapt their teaching methods to accommodate diverse learning styles and abilities, ensuring all students can access the material.
  • Student Engagement: Substitute Teachers work to keep students motivated and actively participating in classroom activities and discussions. They strive to create an environment where learning is exciting and meaningful.
  • Assessment and Evaluation: Substitute Teachers may administer quizzes, tests, or assignments as instructed by the regular teacher. They collect and grade student work, provide feedback, and report results to the teacher or school administration.
  • Support Individual Needs: Substitute Teachers provide additional assistance to struggling students or those with special education requirements, including those with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). They work to ensure that all students receive the support they need to succeed.
  • Classroom Organization: Substitute Teachers ensure that materials and resources are readily accessible for students, contributing to a productive learning environment. They also leave the classroom in good order for the returning teacher, promoting a seamless transition.

How to Hire a Substitute Teacher

Hiring a Substitute Teacher is a critical process for educational institutions to ensure that learning continues seamlessly when regular teachers are absent.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

1. Know Your Requirements

  • What is the primary objective or purpose of the Substitute Teacher role within the school’s educational strategy?
  • What are the main responsibilities and tasks expected from Substitute Teachers?
  • What qualifications and skills are required for the Substitute Teacher role?
  • Are there specific educational or certification requirements, such as a teaching degree or teaching license?
  • To whom will Substitute Teachers report within the school or educational institution?
  • What types of teaching and educational activities will Substitute Teachers be responsible for? Is it primarily classroom instruction, tutoring, or a combination?
  • How will Substitute Teachers collaborate with other school staff, such as administrators, regular classroom teachers, and support personnel?
  • Are there specific teaching guidelines, classroom rules, or school policies that Substitute Teachers must adhere to?

Knowing your requirements is a critical foundation for making informed hiring decisions, setting and achieving goals, and creating a clear job description.

2. Search for the Top Talent

When searching for top talent in substitute teaching, exploring avenues tailored to education and temporary teaching positions is crucial.

Here are some specific places and strategies to find the best substitute teachers:

  • Online Job Boards: Explore education-focused job boards like SubSidekick, EdWeek, or TeachAway. These platforms cater specifically to substitute teaching and education-related positions.
  • School District Websites: Many districts maintain dedicated web pages for substitute teacher recruitment. Check your local school district’s website for job postings and application instructions.
  • Substitute Teacher Agencies: Consider partnering with substitute teacher agencies or staffing services specializing in education. These agencies often have a roster of experienced substitute teachers and can help match them with your school’s needs. For instance, you can use the services of Educational Services and Staffing (ESS), TES Global, or Teach For America.
  • Teacher Associations: Engage with local and national teacher associations and networks. These organizations often have job boards and events where substitute teachers may be seeking opportunities. You can join associations such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), or the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).
  • Local Educational Institutions: Contact nearby colleges, universities, and vocational schools with education programs. They may have aspiring educators interested in substitute teaching roles.
  • Referrals from Educators: Encourage current teachers and staff to refer Substitute Teacher candidates from their professional networks. Employee referrals can lead to high-quality substitutes who align with your school’s values and culture.

3. Look for Educational Qualifications

When evaluating educational qualifications for Substitute Teachers, it’s crucial to verify the following:

  • Bachelor’s Degree or Equivalent: Candidates applying for the role of Substitute Teacher should typically hold a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field. This educational background equips them with essential teaching knowledge and classroom management skills.
  • Teaching Certification (Preferred): While not always mandatory for substitute teaching positions, many school districts prefer candidates who possess teaching certifications. These certifications demonstrate a candidate’s readiness for the classroom and ability to engage with students effectively. For instance, you can pursue a Substitute Teacher Certification.
    Every state has a different teaching certification for a Substitute Teacher. Based on your location, choose a relevant certification.
  • Understanding of Education Regulations: Evaluate the candidate’s understanding of educational laws, regulations, and compliance, as these are fundamental aspects of their role as a Substitute Teacher. Knowledge of school policies and procedures is also essential.
  • Substitute Teacher Training: Some school districts or states require teachers to undergo specific Substitute Teacher training programs. Inquire about whether the candidate has completed any such training. Many schools prefer candidates with Effective Substitute Teacher Training (ESTT) or Effective Teacher Training (ETT).
  • Knowledge of Special Education: If the role may involve substituting in special education classrooms, assess the candidate’s knowledge of special education practices, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and strategies for working with students with diverse learning needs.

4. Analyze Their Work Experience

Analyzing the work experience provides insight into their readiness to enter different classroom settings

Focus on assessing their previous teaching roles, the grade levels and subjects they’ve taught, and the diversity of schools and educational environments they’ve worked in. 

Additionally, consider any leadership roles, such as serving as a lead teacher or mentor, which can indicate their ability to take charge of a classroom. Also, pay close attention to their adaptability and problem-solving skills, as demonstrated by their handling of challenging classroom situations and ability to follow and adapt lesson plans effectively. 

Overall, analyzing their work experience helps you select candidates who can confidently and competently fulfill the role of a Substitute Teacher in our school community.

5. Conduct a Comprehensive Interview Process

Conducting a comprehensive interview process for potential Substitute Teachers is crucial to ensure they are well-qualified and a good fit for your educational institution.

Here are the key steps to conduct a thorough interview process:

  • In-Person Interview: Invite promising candidates for an in-person interview. During this interview, assess their professionalism, appearance, and demeanor. Discuss their teaching philosophy, classroom management strategies, and their ability to adapt to various teaching scenarios.
  • Teaching Demonstration: Request candidates to perform a teaching demonstration. Provide a specific topic or scenario and observe how they engage with students, deliver instructions, and manage the classroom. Evaluate their teaching style, creativity, and ability to connect with students.
  • Teacher Interview Questions: Ask situational and behavioral interview questions to gain insights into how candidates have handled various classroom situations.
  • Availability and Flexibility: Discuss the candidate’s availability and flexibility to work on short notice. Substitute Teachers should be adaptable and ready to take on assignments at various grade levels and subjects.
  • Questions from Candidates: Allow candidates to ask questions about the school’s expectations, policies, and the role of a Substitute Teacher. Their questions can provide insights into their level of interest and commitment.
  • Panel Interview: Consider conducting a panel interview with multiple interviewers, including administrators and teachers, to gather diverse perspectives on the candidate’s suitability.
    A comprehensive interview process helps identify Substitute Teachers who have the necessary qualifications and possess the interpersonal and instructional skills required to effectively support students and maintain a positive classroom environment in the absence of the regular teacher.

6. Cross-Verify Their References

Cross-verifying references entails contacting the provided references to confirm the accuracy of the information provided by the candidate during the interview and application process. The purpose is to comprehensively understand the candidate’s teaching abilities, reliability, interpersonal skills, and overall suitability for the position

By reaching out to individuals who have worked closely with the candidate in educational settings, you can ensure their qualifications and experiences align with your expectations and standards.

We recommend asking the following questions to the references:

  • Can you provide examples of situations where the candidate effectively managed a classroom without the regular teacher? How did they handle classroom discipline and maintain a positive learning environment?
  • How would you rate the candidate’s ability to follow lesson plans and deliver instruction across different grade levels and subjects? Can you share instances where they successfully covered for a teacher and ensured the continuity of the curriculum?
  • Can you describe their strategies for engaging students in learning and addressing individual needs?

Tips for Avoiding Red Flags During the Hiring Process

To avoid red flags during the hiring process of a substitute teacher and ensure that you hire qualified and reliable individuals, consider the following tips:

  • Verify Teaching Credentials: Ensure that substitute teachers hold the necessary teaching credentials or licenses required for your school district or jurisdiction. You need to verify their qualifications to teach specific subjects or grade levels, if applicable.
  • Assess Classroom Management Skills: Ask candidates about their experience in managing classrooms and handling discipline issues. Also, inquire about strategies they would use to maintain a positive learning environment in the absence of the regular teacher.
  • Gauge Flexibility and Adaptability: Emphasize the importance of adaptability since substitute teachers may need to teach various subjects and grade levels. In addition, inquire about their willingness to follow lesson plans provided by regular teachers and adapt them as needed.
  • Conduct Mock Teaching Sessions: During the interview, request that candidates conduct a brief mock teaching session. Focus on evaluating their ability to engage students, deliver a lesson effectively, and handle questions or disruptions.
  • Check for Child Safety Clearances: Ensure that substitute teachers have passed background checks, including criminal and child abuse clearances. You can even confirm that they meet all legal requirements for working with children.

A new hire's first day checklist

Substitute Teacher Job Description

Here’s a comprehensive Substitute Teacher job description:

Download Template

Job Title: Substitute Teacher

Company: [Your School or Educational Institution Name]

Location: [Location]

Job Type: [Part-Time/On-Call]

About Us:

[Provide a brief overview of your school or educational institution’s mission and values. Highlight the importance of substitute teachers in maintaining a positive learning environment.]

The Opportunity: 

We seek dedicated Substitute Teachers to join our team and support our educational mission. As a Substitute Teacher, you will play a vital role in ensuring continuity in the classroom when regular teachers are unavailable. Your passion for education, adaptability, and commitment to student success are essential to our educational community.

What You’ll Do:

  • Maintain a positive and orderly classroom environment.
  • Deliver lesson plans and instructional materials provided by regular classroom teachers.
  • Be prepared to work with students of various grade levels and subjects.
  • Foster an environment conducive to learning by actively engaging students in lessons.
  • Address student behavior issues according to school policies, implementing discipline and conflict resolution strategies when necessary.
  • Ensure the smooth flow of the learning process by following lesson plans.
  • Prioritize the safety and well-being of students at all times, including adherence to emergency procedures and providing first-aid assistance if required.
  • Maintain clear and open communication with school administrators, regular teachers, and parents. 
  • Uphold professional standards and ethical conduct in all interactions with students, staff, and parents.
  • Maintain accurate records of attendance, incidents, and student progress.

What You’ll Bring:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Education or a related field (current enrollment in a teacher preparation program may be acceptable).
  • Valid Substitute Teaching Permit or relevant teaching certification, as required by the state.
  • Strong classroom management skills and the ability to maintain a positive learning environment.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Flexibility and adaptability to different teaching scenarios and grade levels.
  • Commitment to professional development and continuous learning.

Benefits and Perks:

  • Flexible work schedule.
  • Access to professional development opportunities.
  • Networking opportunities within the educational community.
  • Competitive pay rates.
  • Choice of preferred assignments.
  • Potential for regular or long-term positions.
  • Access to school resources and materials.
  • Opportunities for career advancement in education.
  • Inclusion in school communities.

How to Apply:

If you are passionate about education and ready to make a positive impact as a Substitute Teacher in our school community, we invite you to apply. Please submit your resume and a cover letter explaining your interest and qualifications to [email address]. Use the subject line “Application for Substitute Teacher – [Your Name].”

[Your School or Educational Institution Name] is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We value diversity and encourage all qualified candidates to apply. We do not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or any other status protected by law.

Closing Date: [Insert closing date for applications]

Please note that only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted. We appreciate your interest in [Your School or Educational Institution Name].

Note: Customize this template according to your school’s unique requirements and state regulations for substitute teaching.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Substitute Teacher?

When hiring a Substitute Teacher, there are several key cost components to consider, similar to hiring a regular teacher. These factors can impact the overall cost of bringing one on board:

Recruitment Cost

Here are some common recruitment cost components to consider when hiring a Substitute Teacher:

  • Online Job Boards: The cost of posting Substitute Teacher positions on online job boards can vary depending on the platform and the level of visibility you seek. For example, you may need to contact EdJoin and TeachAway to know their pricing, while charges $100 for single job posting. EdWeek charges $1,100 for three job listings.
  • Teacher Associations: You can find some qualified Substitute Teachers through teacher associations. Membership fees for these associations can range from $30 to $150 per year, depending on the chosen plan. For instance, the NSTA membership fee is between $45 to $90 per year, whereas the membership fee of NAEYC ranges between $30 to $150 per year, depending on your chosen plan. On the other hand, the membership fee of NCTM starts at $99 per year.
  • Substitute Teacher Agencies: In some cases, schools or districts may utilize Substitute Teacher agencies or services that specialize in providing these teachers. These agencies often charge a fee for their services, which can be based on factors like the assignment’s length and the substitute’s qualifications.

Salary and Benefits

The primary cost of hiring a Substitute Teacher is their daily or hourly wage, which can vary depending on the location, the substitute’s qualifications, and the school’s policies.

The average salary of a Substitute Teacher is $42,680 per year.

Additional costs may arise if you offer benefits such as health insurance, retirement contributions, or other perks to Substitute Teachers.

Teacher Supplies and Materials

Like regular teachers, Substitute Teachers may require access to essential classroom supplies, textbooks, teaching materials, and technology tools to effectively carry out their duties. These costs include providing classroom resources and ensuring that technology is available for Substitute Teacher use.

Training and Orientation

Conducting training or orientation sessions for Substitute Teachers to familiarize them with school policies, classroom procedures, and emergency protocols may incur additional costs, such as staff time and materials.

Understanding these cost components can help schools and educational institutions effectively budget for and manage the expenses of hiring substitute teachers while ensuring a smooth educational experience in the absence of regular classroom teachers.

Priya Jain

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