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What is a Permanent Substitute Teacher? & 5 Ways They Support Teachers

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“Teaching is the perpetual end and office of all things. Teaching, instruction is the main design that shines through the sky and earth.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Substitute teachers are a necessity in every school district, providing leadership and guidance to students when their usual teachers are unavailable. Some districts prefer to hire substitutes on an as-needed basis, choosing from a list of approved substitutes when a teacher is absent. Others prefer to hire permanent substitute teachers. In either case, substitute teacher onboarding is a must for teachers to be successful.

At Alludo, we talk to assistant superintendents and school leaders regularly about their needs and one thing that often comes up is the issue of whether to hire one or more permanent substitute teachers. We have included relevant activities to support onboarding because we understand that proper training can serve as an onramp for hiring new teachers while boosting teacher effectiveness and retention.

With that in mind, here’s our guide to answer the question of what a permanent substitute teacher is and what they do, plus five ways they support teachers. 

Table of Contents

  1. What Is a Permanent Substitute Teacher?
  2. What Does a Permanent Substitute Teacher Do?
    1. Report to the Same School Each Day
    2. Be Available for Long-Term and Short-Term Assignments
    3. Provide Students with a Stable Environment
  3. What Are the Responsibilities of Permanent Subs?
  4. 5 Ways Permanent Substitutes Support Teachers
    1. #1: Teachers Feel Confident Their Students Are in Good Hands
    2. #2: It's Easy for Teachers to Schedule Appointments, Training, and Meetings
    3. #3: Their Presence Encourages Collaboration
    4. #4: They Provide Peace of Mind
    5. #5: They Maintain Order in the Classroom
  5. Alludo's Take
  6. Support Teachers in Your District by Hiring and Onboarding Permanent Substitutes

What Is a Permanent Substitute Teacher?

Traditionally, substitute teachers are on an approved list and may receive a call on any given day to fill in when a teacher is absent. They may go to a different school within a district each day. 

By contrast, a permanent substitute teacher is a teacher who is embedded at a specific school for the entire school year. They report every day and are assigned to fill in for teachers whenever a substitute is needed. 

Like substitute teachers, they may fill in for a single day or several days. They may also provide interim support if a teacher is stuck in traffic, has to leave early for an appointment, or needs time during the school day to conference with parents or attend IEP meetings.

Permanent substitute teachers can serve as a solution to the ongoing teacher and substitute teacher shortages, which have worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic. They provide stability and predictability for students and administrators. Because of their permanent status, they can form bonds and build trust with other teachers and school staff, as well as with students.
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What Does a Permanent Substitute Teacher Do?

Permanent substitute teachers have the same responsibilities as regular substitutes but with a few additions. Here are their most important responsibilities.

Report to the Same School Each Day

The first responsibility of a permanent substitute teacher is to report to the same school every day. Permanent subs have the opportunity to build relationships with teachers, school administrators, and support staff.

Because permanent substitute teachers are onsite at one school every day, they are available to step in at a moment’s notice.

Be Available for Long-Term and Short-Term Assignments

Permanent substitutes can fill in for teachers when there is a short-term absence due to a family responsibility or illness, or for long-term absences when a teacher is on leave or experiencing an extended illness.

One of the primary differences between regular substitutes and permanent substitutes is that permanent subs are at the school and can step in for a short period of time if the teacher needs to attend a meeting or go to a doctor’s appointment. Their presence makes them very useful for schools who may be experiencing teacher shortages already. Permanent substitutes can act as utility players, stepping in wherever they are needed.


Provide Students with a Stable Environment

Permanent substitutes provide students with a predictable and steadfast environment because their permanence allows them to get to know students and allows students to get to know them. Their presence in the classroom is likely to be less disruptive because of that trust.

Students are less likely to challenge a permanent sub because they’re likely to see them many times over the course of a school year. Classroom management is likely to be easier for a permanent substitute because the students know them.

Teacher Happiness Report

What Are the Responsibilities of Permanent Subs?

Now, let’s look at the responsibilities of permanent substitute teachers, which may combine the responsibilities of a traditional substitute with those of a guest teacher:

  • Familiarize themselves with lesson plans. In a short-term assignment, permanent subs work with existing lesson plans and must familiarize themselves with the plan quickly before students arrive for class.
  • Assign homework. Here again, the sub is likely to be working with the regular teacher’s existing plan and must assign homework accordingly.
  • Develop lesson plans and assignments. In the case of a long-term assignment, a permanent sub may be responsible for developing new lesson plans, assignments, and classroom activities.
  • Maintain discipline. Like any substitute, permanent subs must maintain discipline in the classroom.
  • Manage the class. Classroom management encompasses everything from getting supplies to collecting homework and grading assignments.
  • Take disciplinary action as needed. Sometimes, students may require behavioral correction based on the school’s disciplinary guidelines, and permanent subs must be prepared to provide it.
  • Assist students with special needs. Some students may require small group or one-on-one instruction, and permanent subs must provide that instruction as needed.
  • Collaborate with other staff and teachers. Finally, permanent substitute teachers must collaborate with school teachers and staff to make sure that students’ needs are being met.


A skilled permanent substitute teacher can do a great deal of good in a school by providing skilled and steady leadership and a sense of permanence.

5 Ways Permanent Substitutes Support Teachers

Permanent substitutes can do a great deal to support teachers in their work.

#1: Teachers Feel Confident Their Students Are in Good Hands

Teachers care about their students and being away from the classroom can be stressful for them, particularly if they need to take time off when students are in the midst of learning about a complex topic or preparing for an exam.

When a permanent substitute is on staff, teachers know that there is someone to step in who knows the school and students and has the ability to understand their lesson plans and teach them accordingly.

#2: It’s Easy for Teachers to Schedule Appointments, Training, and Meetings

Traditionally, substitute teachers get a phone call to let them know they will need to step in for an absent teacher the next day or at most, within a few days. It may be difficult for teachers who need to miss one class to do so, because there’s nobody to step in for an hour while they get their teeth cleaned or meet with a parent.

Permanent subs can step in for a full day or for a single period to allow teachers to do other things. They offer far more flexibility than traditional substitute teachers because they are on campus and available to make teachers’ schedules flexible.

#3: Their Presence Encourages Collaboration

Permanent substitutes are part of the teaching team at the school where they work. Their presence means they can meet and collaborate with other teachers, whether the collaboration entails sharing insights about a student who’s struggling or helping with lesson plans.

It’s always useful for teachers to collaborate and share ideas. While it’s impossible for teachers to collaborate with substitutes who come and go from day to day, permanent substitutes are a valued part of the school community.


#4: They Provide Peace of Mind

Every school has its own set of safety procedures that detail how teachers and students should respond to a variety of situations. A new substitute coming into a school for the first time—or one who comes and goes—may not be familiar with safety procedures.

Permanent substitutes are on site and receive the same safety training (and participate in the same drills) as teachers. In the event that there is an emergency, they’ll be prepared to guide students through the process—and teachers will have the peace of mind of knowing that their students will be protected.

#5: They Maintain Order in the Classroom

Students may not behave as well for a substitute teacher as they do for their regular teachers. It’s natural for kids to test boundaries and they may feel there are no consequences for disrupting class when a substitute is teaching.

Permanent substitutes know students—and students know them. When a permanent sub is in the classroom, students know that they’ll communicate with the regular teacher about what goes on and that their behavior with the sub may have consequences.

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Alludo’s Take

Here at Alludo, it’s our passion to help school districts and teachers by providing dynamic professional learning environments that are accessible and engaging. We have included a variety of activities and learning paths in our professional development catalog that may be useful for onboarding and training permanent substitute teachers.

We know that our system can be used for onboarding because of what happened with the Yucaipa Calimesa JUSD. We worked with them to create an onboarding system for teachers, including permanent substitutes, and the system was so successful that the district has turned it into an onramp to hiring new teachers.

Support Teachers in Your District by Hiring and Onboarding Permanent Substitutes

Permanent substitute teachers provide stability and safety for school districts, making it easy for teachers to step out of the classroom or take a day off without worrying that their students will be negatively impacted. We’ve listed five major ways that permanent substitutes support teachers, and now you know that hiring permanent substitutes can help teachers and students.

Are you in need of a robust onboarding system for teachers and permanent substitutes? Alludo can help! Click here to get your free trial of our learning platform, Madagascar, with our content catalog preloaded for you to review.

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