School Procedures and Safety
Email and Technology Access
Substitute employees who need access to a PPS email account and/or eSchoolPLUS TAC at his/her current placement must complete and submit a Substitute Account Access Request Form.
Please note that day-to-day substitutes who reach fulltime status will receive an automated email informing them that they have been granted access to email and systems; the Substitute Account Access Request Form does not need to be completed.
Once you have acquired email and technology access you can login into these systems by visiting www.pghschools.org/staff.
Substitute Report Times
Frontline Absence Management is the official system to determine substitute assignment start and end times. The scheduled work day for substitutes varies based on the school in which they are working and may include prep and professional learning time.
If you have not received access to the Frontline Absence Management system yet, please visit the Discover PPS site in our district website to view school start and end times. You can locate the start time by selecting your assigned school under the “PPS Schools” tab at the top of the screen, then click the “About Our School” tab on the left side of the screen. To confirm that these times are accurate, please feel free to contact the school directly. You are required to report thirty (30) minutes in advance of the school start time that is posted on Discover PPS; as substitutes are required to report to schools in advance of students. As a reminder, once you are able to access the Frontline Absence Management system, please use this to determine substitute start and end times; as the start times in the Frontline Absence Management system are already adjusted to reflect the previously mentioned 30-minute rule.
If you notice any discrepancies with the report/start times, please email firstname.lastname@example.org so that these times can be updated in the respective systems.
School Closings and Snow Days
When schools and/or other facilities are closed or on a two hour delay due to inclement weather, all substitutes should adhere to the following Snow Day and Inclement Weather Guidelines. Substitutes should follow the guidelines referenced under the “Teacher” category. District communication protocols and general inclement weather information is also available on www.pghschools.org/weather.
Substitute Responsibilities and Recommendations
This section contains valuable information that will allow school-based employees and students to see you as a professional substitute who is committed to ensuring that students are provided with meaningful learning experiences in the absence of school-based employees. Your substitute experience with students is important and contributes significantly to students’ overall academic achievement throughout their educational experience with Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Preparing for Your Assignment
In order to ensure that you are prepared for your assignment the following steps should be followed before you arrive to the school.
- Identify business casual attire to wear. Your first impression is a lasting impression with students and school-based employees.
- Make note of the following information about your assignment. Please note this information is located in the Frontline Absence Management System.
- School name, address, and telephone number.
- Staff member for whom you are substituting.
- Grade level and content.
- Start & end times.
- Principal & school secretaries name.
- Grab your District ID badge as this must be worn while in the school.
Arriving at the School
It is imperative that you arrive to the school at least 30 minutes in advance of students’ report time. When you arrive to the school, please complete the following tasks:
Report to the main office and introduce yourself to the school secretary and other office staff. Inform the school secretary or the staff member for whom you will be substituting, and inquire the following:
a. What are the proper procedures to sign-in and out for the day? You must sign-in each day.
b. What is the room number of your assigned classroom and where is it located?
c. Did the school-based employee (teacher, counselor, social worker) leave a substitute folder in the main office or classrom with lesson plans, class rosters, materials, etc.?
d. Request a copy of the teacher’s schedule for the day.
e. Are there specific duties that you will be covering for outside of your assignment: lunch, playground, other assignments, etc.?
f. What are the school safety procedures? Please note that only school nurses are permitted to administer medicine to students.
g. What are your end-of-day procedures and responsibilities? (student dismissal, bus monitor, etc.)
Keep in mind that the school secretary is your first point of contact when you arrive at the school, it is important to build positive relationships with the main office personnel.
- Find your classroom(s) or office and become familiar with the school’s structure before school begins. (e.g. restrooms, faculty lounge, cafeteria, auditorium, gym, library, drinking fountains, etc.).
- If you are substituing for a teacher, review the lesson plans, attendance/absence procedures, and emergency evacuation map. Teachers should leave written lesson plans in their classroom, with the Department Chairperson or ITL, or in the main office. There will be times when the teacher cannot provide lesson plans, if this is the case, please contact the main office to inform the school principal and ask for guidance. Once you have reviewed the lesson plan, locate all materials that will be utilized throughout the day (e.g. handouts, books, computers, etc.).
- Stop by the neighboring classrooms or offices and meet the school-based staff – they can be a great resource if you have questions or need assistance.
- Prepare to receive students by turning off your cell phone. Students should greet you with a formal title (Mr. Mrs. Ms., etc.) and your last name. If you are substituting for a teacher be sure to put your name and the day’s learning objectives on the board, and review your class roster and seating chart (if applicable).
During the School Day
As a substitute who does not directly oversee the instructional learning of the classroom your role in assisting students, teachers, and school personnel can make all the difference. When working in your substitute positions be sure to:
- Familiarize yourself with the responsibilities of the school-based employee (counselor, nurse, social worker, paraprofessional) for whom you are subbing.
- Introduce yourself to the school-based employee(s) and students that you will be assisting or collaborating with for the day.
- Conduct your work to the best of your ability while following school procedures. Depending on the role in which you are subbing you could be working with students in small groups, partnering with community members, or collaborating with Central Office staff.
Great substitute teachers must establish a positive classroom atmosphere as early as possible. To increase the likelihood that you will have a productive day, complete the following steps when working with the students in the classroom:
- When students arrive, greet them at the door as they enter the classroom.
- Introduce yourself as the teacher, not the substitute for the day. Be sure to be kind, but firm.
- Ask the students what their expectations are for your time together. Inform the students of your expectations and remind them of the classroom rules.
- Deliver the lesson. The preparation beforehand will have provided you with familiarity with the lesson to ensure that you can keep the class moving. Be sure to have additional activities planned in advanced to keep students engaged following the lesson.
- Dismiss the students according to the school procedures. Be sure to give them encouraging words as they exit your classroom. Before dismissing the students from your class ensure that the students:
a. Return all materials (e.g. calculators, books, computers, etc.).
b. Straighten up the area around their desk.
c. Understand their homework assignment.
Substitutes assume the teacher's responsibilities for supervision and management of students, including conduct in classrooms, hallways, and other areas of the school. When you encounter disruptive or dangerous behavior, immediately address the student and redirect the student towards more appropriate behavior. Be sensitive to the student’s feelings; a student can be redirected without embarrassing them. Be aware of how small things can affect the atmosphere of the classroom and school: using a normal voice, giving praise to students, having a positive attitude, showing respect. Keep in mind that students resent substitutes who talk down to them, make threats, and blame or punish the whole class for the behavior of a few. It is imperative that you utilize good judgement and adapt to disruptive situations in a positive manner.
If assistance is necessary to handle a disruptive situation, do not leave the classroom for any reason. Call the main office, or send another student to the main office to request that the School Principal or designee come to the classroom.
Ending the Day
Substitutes are employed for the school day and are required to remain on school grounds until the end of the day. Please note that as a substitute you may be assigned end-of-day responsibilities which may include bus and dismissal duties.
Take time to provide the employee for whom you were subbing with a brief statement of progress before you leave for the day. Write a detailed summary of what was accomplished during the day, which challenges you may have encountered, how the challenges were addressed, and recommendations for future substitutes to be successful.
If you were serving in a classroom be sure to leave the teacher’s materials and student work in the classroom or in the main office. Conduct a walkthrough of the classroom and be sure that it is neatly organized, the lights and equipment are turned off, and that the main door to the classroom is locked.
Finally, be sure to return any keys and materials to the main office and sign out for the day.