School Tips

Behind the Scenes: How Senya's Unique Platform Works for Schools

Learn how the Senya platform is designed to work for schools
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Senya's Design

The Senya platform is designed with the overarching goal of making it easy for schools to get quality substitute teachers for every need, even and especially those last-minute needs. You no longer need to worry about maintaining contact lists of potential substitutes, making frantic morning phone calls, or stressing over any upcoming long-term staff absences.

Schools that are partnered with Senya have consistently higher substitute coverage, thanks to the daily work of our dedicated team and the powerful, built-in features of the platform:

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Ongoing Recruiting

Notifications

Last-Minute Bonuses

Retention

Reducing Cancellations

Ratings

Favorite and Blocked Lists

Services Available at School's Request

Ongoing Recruiting

Our recruiting team is laser-focused on keeping a large, active pool of qualified substitute teachers in all areas where we have partner schools. Senya team members attend community events, connect with former and aspiring educators, and leverage social media and other digital avenues to get substitutes who are the right fit for our schools. Additionally, our team continually tracks coverage rates, giving immediate attention to areas with high or growing needs.

Tip: If your school notices a period of difficulty getting substitute coverage, talk with a Senya team member! We will look over the data with you and help identify possible issues and solutions. Some common situations include:

  • mistakes in the posted pay rate (e.g., posting $17 for a full day when you meant it to be $17/hour)
  • lower substitute pay rate than other nearby schools
  • posting jobs to your favorite list when you only have a few people on that list (teacher users may not realize this when posting)
  • teacher users not posting jobs (absences) in a timely manner
  • substitutes not returning if they felt unwelcome or alone

Notifications

The Senya platform has a notification system that eliminates the need for school staff to make calls or send out text messages to try to get coverage. The app automatically sends out notifications to substitutes through text, email, and app alerts. Substitutes are notified immediately when new jobs are posted, which has proven to be especially effective for filling last-minute jobs: As substitutes go through their night or morning routine—when schools are posting those unplanned, last-minute jobs—those job alerts are popping up on substitutes' phones. This gets the posts to the eyes of available and interested substitutes. Gone are the days when schools and Senya spent hours calling and texting sub lists with minimal response. The notification system on the app ensures that jobs are being seen, giving schools the best chance to get coverage.

Senya has also seen growing success with last-minute "late" acceptances. This is when schools post a job within 1-2 hours or less of the school start time as a hopeful effort to get coverage for at least some of the day, and a substitute picks up the job with the understanding that he or she will arrive late but come as soon as possible. In these cases, substitutes are directed to call the school to get these arrangements approved, including their expected arrival time. The feedback that we receive from substitutes continues to show that our notification system is one of the key features to our success with high coverage rates.

Tip: Schools can choose whether to post multi-day or long-term jobs as a group, with the goal of getting a single, returning substitute, or opening the job to allow multiple substitutes to cover the span. If you have a multi-day job or an upcoming long-term job that is not getting accepted, consider opening it up for multiple substitutes or posting it in smaller groupings.

Last-Minute Bonuses

Another unique design in Senya's platform is the automatic addition of bonus money for jobs that have not been accepted within 12 hours of the job start time. This is not charged to the school; Senya uses its own revenue to pay out the bonus. This incentivizes and rewards substitutes for covering jobs that are hardest to get filled. For those last-minute jobs, substitutes see a standout message that reads, "Accept now and receive an extra $[amount] for this job." The combination of our notification system and the bonus money is highly successful in getting those last-minute jobs filled.

Tip: Although Senya has automatic bonuses applied to jobs that haven't been accepted within 12 hours of the start time, schools may also add their own, custom bonuses to jobs. This can be added for any job and for any reason, giving your school an extra edge to attract substitutes. For example, schools sometimes add bonus money on days when there are an unusual number of staff members absent, which can help get everything covered. Schools also often add custom bonuses for those extremely last-minute jobs, which can incentivize substitutes to rearrange their schedules so that they can come in to the school.

Retention

Senya's Tier Bonus Program is one of the features designed to retain substitutes. We reward subs the more they work, paying an extra 10% after 5 jobs in a month, an extra 18% after 10 jobs in a month, and an extra 25% after 15 jobs in a month. Schools are not charged for this; Senya uses its own revenue to pay out bonus money. We know the importance of not just recruiting great substitutes but also keeping them long-term! The Tier Bonus Program makes Senya the most competitive and rewarding platform for substitutes, which means we can recruit the most talented, dedicated substitutes for our partner schools.

Tip: The bonus program has been very successful for substitute retention, but we also pay close attention to substitute feedback, and their comments consistently highlight several things that schools do that motivates them to return: being welcoming, showing them around the school, giving them helpful information about the school's culture and schedule, and having staff check in on them throughout the day. Mornings are a very busy time at schools, but a little warmth and attention goes a long way in making an impression for substitutes.

Reducing Cancellations

Every school has experienced the frustration of securing a substitute, only to have the job canceled with little time to find a replacement. Senya approaches this problem in a number of ways. First, we have established that anything within 24 hours before a job's start time is "last-minute." Canceling a job within 24 hours of its start time results in a penalty on the platform for substitutes, including losing eligibility for bonus money and deactivation after a third cancellation.

Second, the app has several layers built in to help substitutes consider keeping their commitment: They are reminded that canceling puts schools in a difficult position, they are reminded of the penalties on the platform, and they must type the reason for the cancellation. Senya does work with substitutes who have extenuating circumstances, but overall, these layers have been successful in driving down cancellations.

Third, when substitutes do cancel, Senya's notification system sends out alerts immediately to get a replacement. If it is within the 12-hour period before the job start time, Senya's bonus money is automatically added, making it more attractive and likely to be accepted by a replacement.

Tip: While some cancellations are unavoidable, such as family medical emergencies, Senya is always studying what can be done to encourage substitutes to keep commitments. One finding is that jobs with a lot of details (added by the school/teacher) are not only accepted more quickly but also less likely to be canceled. Another tip is to include positive messaging in the details, such as thanking the substitute in advance for helping, or sharing about supports in the classroom/school. Substitutes are more likely to cancel jobs that have no details versus those that are welcoming and let them know what to expect for the day.

Ratings

Senya uses a rating system similar to other companies that work with community members (e.g., rideshare, home delivery), putting emphasis on professionalism and work quality. In the case of substitute teaching, we have the strongest expectations for how subs facilitate lessons and conduct themselves with students and staff. Substitutes must maintain a minimum 4-star rating to be eligible for the Tier Bonus Program (bonus money), and misconduct carries penalties up to and including removal from the platform.

Tip: Senya trains substitutes in professional standards and classroom management strategies; it is helpful when schools reinforce effective practices when meeting the substitute in the morning, such as reminding them, "It's really important to circulate the room while students are working" and "We ask that staff keep their phones put away during class" and so on. Don't forget to reward subs with good ratings or provide Senya with feedback so we can support anyone not meeting expectations.

Favorite and Blocked Lists

Senya allows schools to "favorite" substitutes that are a good fit and well-liked, and conversely, to block substitutes that did not meet school expectations. Substitutes who are blocked do not see jobs posted by your school. When you post jobs, you have the option of posting it to your favorites list, which means that the job posting is only visible to those substitutes. This works best when you have a good number of favorites on your list; when you only have a couple, a job might not be covered if none of your favorites are available (see tip below).

Tip: As a school administrative team, decide on a timeframe for using the "favorite" list feature. If the job is not accepted within that timeframe, open the job up to the general pool of Senya substitutes to increase the likelihood that it gets covered. Senya recommends that you open the job to the general pool of subs at least 24 hours before the job start time. With this process, you can get your favorite subs as often as possible but still get coverage when they are not available.

Services Available at Schools' Request

Hiring Substitutes to Permanent Positions

Every year, we have schools that really love some of our substitutes and want to hire them directly for a permanent position. We love it when schools and substitutes are a great match! If the substitute is within the first 6 months of being on our platform, there is a one-time "finder's fee" to compensate our marketing and recruiting work. This is charged when the substitute has agreed to and signed a contract with the school. We are always excited when great people move into permanent school staff positions! If you have any questions or wish to hire a Senya substitute, contact our Director of Client Success, Rachel Nigri (office@senya.app).

Long-Term Specialty Substitute

At times, schools reach out to Senya, asking for help finding a substitute with specific experience or qualifications to cover the duration of a long-term job, such as a maternity leave or long medical absence. For example, a school might ask us to secure a substitute with a science degree or prior science teaching experience to cover for a science teacher who will be out for a few months. Because this goes outside of the design of our platform and core daily business practices, we have a special Agreement and pricing to coordinate Senya's recruiting specialists for this service. Interested schools can contact our Chief Recruiting Officer, Melissa Plummer (recruiting@senya.app) to discuss needs.

Direct Placement

Schools also reach out to Senya at times to request help with recruiting people directly for permanent staff positions. For example, a school might ask us to find candidates for an unfilled high school math teacher position, or an unfilled K-8 music teaching position. Because this goes outside of the design of our platform and core daily business practices, we have a special Agreement and pricing to coordinate Senya's recruiting specialists for this service. Interested schools can contact our Chief Recruiting Officer, Melissa Plummer (recruiting@senya.app) to discuss needs.

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