Community Trainings Through Adult Schools

Partner:  Piedmont Unified School District (Adult School)

Hawaii leverages their adult school program to provide mandatory training for substitute teachers. Some school districts across the mainland US provide optional adult school training, a few that result in a slightly higher daily wage. Many, many school districts operate thriving adult schools that prepare community members for a variety of paths, and yet these substitute training examples are still fairly uncommon. What’s more, they’re not necessarily marketed as a way to recruit new substitute teachers—folks who might need a little courage and support to step into the classroom.

Piedmont Unified School District has an extensive adult school program that engages many community members both inside and outside the school district boundaries. They agreed to host Substantial’s inaugural community training for aspiring substitute teachers, which took place on January 28, 2017. The day focused on confidence building training around teaching strategies and classroom management, as well as support for navigating the substitute permitting and district application processes.

We’re Exploring

  • Can free introductory training help overcome fears or hesitancy to become a substitute teacher?
  • Can community workshops help increase substitute teacher recruitment?
  • What kinds of training and support are most effective to get community members into classrooms?
  • Can adult schools serve as a hub for substitute teacher recruitment and training?
  • How can we leverage existing adult learning spaces to provide additional training for current and potential substitute teachers?

The training was a smashing success. We had 24 active and engaged community members, the majority of whom learned about the event through Piedmont Adult School’s circular “The Moonlighter.” The average participant rating for the day was 9.7 out of 10 (or for those who are familiar with Net Promoter Scores, a +95!).

What We Learned
This was our first attempt at community training and substitute recruitment event, and while we could not be more pleased with the results, we know that we can continue to do better. Here are some things we learned this time around that will help us create an even better experience in the future.

  • The substitute permitting and employment process is daunting, confusing and tough to explain in generalities — everyone has his or her own specific needs, questions and concerns. We need to help folks chart their personal journey to becoming a sub.
  • Creating a sense of community matters. In 6 short hours this group of engaged citizens became friends. A big part of what people enjoyed was meeting and learning from others who share an interest in substitute teaching. Creating a way for substitute teachers to feel less isolated is critical.
  • Practice, practice, practice. We created some opportunities for substitutes to apply their learnings, but we need more! There’s simply no substitute for standing up and trying it.
  • People are hungry for more. This was an extremely introductory workshop, but these folks were ready for Level 2 and 3! It left many wondering things like, “why this doesn’t go nationwide,” and “why this kind of training isn’t common in the process.” So we know we’ve got some work to do to make this scalable and easily replicated.

Next Steps
We’re working on making this workshop even better! We’re also talking to county offices of education and school districts interested in using this workshop as a recruitment tool.

This workshop was great. I didn’t have any idea of what to expect from teaching as well as the process to get started so this class was extremely helpful.

I wasn’t sure I whether or not I wanted to sub. Now I want to.

Wow! What a great workshop. You are good people sharing valuable information. Thank you!

[I most enjoyed] the pace and approach to the day: good content, brain breaks, addressing fears, covered a lot of material in an engaging manner.

It was all excellent! Like that there was a variety– brain breaks, small group, discussion, etc. You created a very positive, supportive environment that inspired confidence. Thank you!