STEDI.org took a poll of what a school district can do to help substitute teachers feel more appreciated. Here is a summary of those results.

27% Wanted Validation and Increased Standards.


I feel most appreciated when I'm allowed to teach instead of just babysit! – Mary

My suggestion is for the districts to begin interviewing potential substitute teachers before hiring them into the pool and assessing the quality of the substitute teachers already in the pool. It has been my experience that teachers do not like to take days off or go to conferences because they do not trust the substitute teacher pool. If the districts were a little more discriminate about their hiring process, teachers might have more faith in the pool and therefore more jobs would open for those substitute teachers who deserve their faith. – Mackenzie

At least hearing that you did a good job would really help. – Lisa

I would feel much more comfortable and valued if I received at least some training. It would demonstrate the district's commitment to providing quality substitute teachers rather than a warm body to fill the void. – Jessica

I feel one way to make me feel special is to simply request my services personally. I always feel appreciated when a permanent teacher specifically asks for me to take over their class. I think this action is the easiest and simplest way to show the school district appreciates what you do for them. – Virginia

The only appreciation I look for is a "high five" from students as they leave the classroom, a real welcoming smile from the school administration when I arrive and a "thank you" when I leave at the end of the day. – Anthony

I do appreciate when the school has backup substitute teacher folders in case the teacher doesn't have anything planned, as well as folders that have the school bell schedule, a map, and other such helpful information. – Anonymous

It would be nice to receive a certificate after a long-term assignment. The certificate should state information regarding the substitute's performance. This certificate would be very useful when looking for other employment. Also, if we could get directions on becoming a permanent teacher, that would be really helpful! – Melvia

Two years ago I received a nice letter from the SubOffice telling me that one of the teachers I regularly substitute teach for had acknowledged me for my good work. It was nice to hear. – Kim

What I would like most is feedback on my performance. I would like to know what teacher's felt was handled well or if something I did was effective. After I leave the classroom for the day, I rarely receive any feedback on my performance. I would like to know if my efforts were received well and if not, what I could do to improve as a substitute. – Kristina

23% of substitute teachers requested increased communication.


One of the schools where I substitute teach, puts out an email each morning to the staff. It gives the names of the substitute teachers in the building for the day and whom they are substitute teaching for. It's a great way to pick up more jobs because the teachers know where to find us. I also find staff members greeting me by name, which is always a nice feeling. – Shirley

A school district could create an open meeting monthly or every other month to have the substitute teachers get together and talk about common issues and classroom management problems. – Laura

I would appreciate the school secretary letting me know, upon arrival, what the discipline procedures that are outlined for that school. All schools are different. All schools seem to have a different tolerance. I would feel better in all situations if I know what was expected. – Judi

I was in one school and during the morning announcements the guest teachers were announced along with the classroom they would be in. It made me smile that morning. – Lauren

17% of substitute teachers said something that makes them feel appreciated is when teachers and staff are welcoming and inviting.

I appreciated it when teachers in the hallway make a point of saying, "Hi" and thanking me for substitute teaching that day. – Dick

I appreciate when the school secretary or another teacher asks me how my day went and really listens to see if there were any problems. That makes me feel that I'm not alone. They assure me if there is a problem, help is near. – Marian

Something that goes a long way with me is to be invited to eat with teachers during the lunch break. – Kathleen

Many of the faculty and staff of the schools I have worked in have been quick to say, "Thank you for coming today!" It seems like something very small, but it means a lot to me. –Jennifer

I appreciate when other teachers introduce themselves & assure you they are next door if you need anything. Also when they speak to you during breaks/recess. – Anonymous

10% of substitute teachers said a small gift would be greatly appreciated.


One school supplied a goodie basket in their teacher's lounge specifically for substitute teachers. It consisted of tea bags, hot chocolate, instant soups, packaged cookies and crackers, etc. I thought it was a nice gesture of appreciation that came in handy, especially when I was called in late and didn't have time to pack a lunch. – Anonymous

I substitute teach in Katy ISD and one day last year, I had a substitute teaching job and the school had prepared substitute teacher appreciation packages. It included a tote bag with the school mascot on it, a pad of paper, a pen, and a note of appreciation. I thought it was a very nice gesture. – Anonymous

I substitute taught at a school where the front office had placed a small bowl of Hershey Chocolate Kisses near the sign in/out sheet for substitute teachers. There was also a sign that read: Thank you for coming to sub at our school today. We really appreciate you. I thought that was so sweet of them. – Cindy

One school where I substitute teach gave each substitute teacher a paper cup with a tea bag or packet of cocoa, pencil, and some chocolate treats as we signed in. It was a wonderful surprise. – Joni

At one middle school they gave free lunches to all substitute teachers. That gesture made me feel appreciated. This school even gave out the same small gifts to substitute teacher that they gave to permanent teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. – Danielle

Maybe a SubOffice could have a monthly raffle where substitute teachers can put their name in to win some little prize, maybe a gift certificate to a restaurant, or something like that. – Alexandra

8% of substitute teachers requested a breakfast or luncheon.


A school district could provide a lunch once a year for all substitute teachers where they could hand out "Job Well Done" passes – things like: free jean day, parking space at the front of your building, etc. – Margaret

Each year, the school has a special luncheon for all who have been a substitute teacher during the year. – Ray

Last year one school where I substitute teach, held a SubAppreciation Day and they served us lunch and cake. They also gave us a coffee mug with the school emblem on it. That was very nice. – Ed

At the beginning of each school year the school district has a meeting with us where they provide a lunch. During this meeting they give us various updates on what is going on in the district. Each year they focus on one aspect of substitute teaching. For the past two years the focus has been substitute teaching in special education classes. They provide us with information regarding strategies to use with various disabilities, as well as a list of terminology that is used in the program. I can tell that this district values us as employees and as a part of their team...not just subs! – Nan

Only 7% of substitute teachers requested higher pay.

3% of substitute teachers said they would appreciate contact from the school principal.


A simple word of encouragement or a job well done is always appreciated. Most administrators are unaware of a sub unless there is a problem. A non-threatening visit from administration to see how the day is going is always helpful. – R.W.

Each day I sub at a particular school, the principal or the assistant principal during morning announcements always thanks the substitute teachers, by name, for being there and tells the whole school how grateful they feel to have us. No money, very little time, but HUGE impact! – Jennifer