Today my goal was to visit with each substitute in my building and improve the relationship with each one. Many times when substitutes come into the building they are ignored. The only time they are focused on is when they are unable to control the class. The only expectation of a sub is to keep the kids quiet and engaged long enough so the end of the day bell can ring. Often, when a sub comes into the building they do not have anywhere to hang their coat or put their things. Basically, treated like a second class citizen. Is this right? After all, they are in front of our children for a day. They are not valued much and expectations are not very high.
As the principal of a school it is my responsibility to ensure that every substitute feels valued and a part of the Hartford family as much as possible. Why only expect them to be silent adults who babysit the kids? Why have a substitute shortage? I want every sub to love coming to my school. I never want to run short. Below are three ways I try to make substitutes more valued.
Just about every morning I stand at the front counter of the main office to welcome teachers and staff into the building. I especially say hello to the substitutes. I make small talk with them and encourage them as they get each of their assignments. If there is new sub that I am not familiar with, I go out of my way to introduce myself, shake his/her hand, and tell her about how wonderful this school is. What better way to start the students day off right than to start the sub's day off right. Each sub should walk out of the main office with a smile and a key to open the door for the students.
Throughout the day, whenever I see a substitute in the hallway or in a classroom I stop and ask, "How's your day going?" with a big smile. Mostly all of the time the response is returned with a "Great!" and a bigger smile. Checking in with the subs from time to time is very important. They know that the greeting in the morning was genuine and you are there to support them if needed. Even if it is one of the "regulars". I make it a point to check in.
Most of the time the computer system selects the sub and located the vacancies for the day. From time to time we may need to call a substitute to come in for an emergency. When my secretary calls she goes out of her way to be extra appreciative and thankful for them to come in to work. Even if they are unable to take the position, she thanks them and tells them that we can't wait until they come in the next time. That way the sub feels valued and knows that Hartford School is a great place to be.
At my school we rarely have a substitute shortage. For the most part, the subs are running to my school to fill the positions. It all starts with building positive strong relationships. One day after school I saw one of the newer substitutes in the hallway. I asked her how was her day. She looked up at me with some very sorrowful eyes and said it was not good. The students were loud, she couldn't get through the material left for her to do, and her feet hurt. I apologized for the horrible day and asked if there was anything I could do. I reassured her that we wanted her to come back. She quickly replied, "I will definitely come back! You were the only principal that ever said hello to me. I'll do anything for you."
It's all about relationships!
Stand Tall Steve