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How to onboard new subs for your preschool

The onboarding period is a critical time to ensure the long-term success of new subs as you welcome them to your early childhood team. In fact, an effective onboarding process is vital to maintain a positive learning environment and ensure your sub pool stays healthy and strong.

As a hiring manager, you play a vital role in setting substitute teachers up for success. 

Read on for strategies to help you effectively onboard new preschool subs with your team. 

7 tips for onboarding subs to your preschool team

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1. Set clear expectations. From the initial stages of hiring, it's important to clearly communicate expectations and responsibilities. Provide new subs with detailed information about the classroom environment, curriculum, daily routines, and any specific guidelines or procedures. A well-written job description goes a long way! This clarity helps substitute teachers understand their role and enables them to onboard smoothly to your preschool team. 

2. Create a supportive environment. Introduce new subs to the full-time team and provide opportunities for them to connect. Think: welcome lunches, mentorship programs, and peer partners. Even if they're only scheduled for one class, the goal should always be growing your sub pool for the future. Building a sense of community helps substitute teachers feel supported and valued within the team.

3. Offer training and introductions. Your county or state may have prerequisite trainings, but you can also offer an orientation specific for your preschool as part of your onboarding process . You don't have to spend hours and hours developing it—aim to cover the basics: classroom management, behavior management strategies, curriculum implementation, health and safety protocols, and emergency procedures. Providing a thoughtful orientation helps substitute teachers feel prepared and confident in their roles, and improves success and return rate.

4. Implement a peer support program. Assigning a mentor or buddy to new preschool and early childhood subs can make all the difference in their success. Experienced teachers offer guidance, share best practices, and provide ongoing support to substitute teachers. Peer support systems, such as mentorship programs or regular check-ins with colleagues, encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing. 


5. Provide feedback. It's worth taking the time to provide feedback, even for subs. Check in after the class to offer support and address any concerns. Encourage them to ask questions and seek guidance when needed. We love Kim Scott's HIP framework for providing high-quality feedback—it should be helpful, humble, immediate and in-person, ideally.

6. Encourage collaboration with full-time teachers. Encourage communication between preschool subs and full-time teachers as part of your onboarding. Full-time teachers can provide guidance on lesson plans, curriculum objectives, and individual student needs. This collaboration allows substitute teachers to align teaching strategies with current classroom activities and ensures a seamless transition for students. 

7. Support subs' professional development. This one is a bit more long-term, but it's important to support the professional growth of your substitute teachers. After all, you never know when you might be looking for a new full-time hire. Provide access to relevant workshops, conferences, webinars, and resources that focus on early childhood education.  This investment in their professional growth contributes to their long-term success, improves your fill rate, and helps grow your pool of qualified candidates the next time you have an opening on your team.

As a hiring manager, your role in onboarding early childhood substitute teachers is crucial.

By implementing strategies such as clear communication, a welcoming environment, comprehensive orientation and training, mentorship and peer support, continuous feedback and evaluation, collaboration with regular teachers, and ongoing professional development opportunities, you can set substitute teachers up for success.

If you're still on the sub search and are looking to grow your pool with quality subs who meet state requirements, SitterTree can help.

Start your free trial and instantly connect with vetted, experienced subs in your area.

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