Did you start your sub plans yet? If you just gulped and looked away quickly, you are not alone. Creating emergency sub plans is a task many teachers say they’d rather skip.
After all, the beginning of the school year means doing a lot of prep work … let us repeat that: a LOT OF PREP WORK. But there’s one prep that often gets overlooked in the hustle and bustle of putting up bulletin boards and prepping icebreakers: Preparing for the eventuality that a substitute teacher may have to come into your classroom.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that you really never know when you’re going to get sick … or quarantined … and a sub is going to need to be ready to step into your classroom and fill your shoes. Emergency sub plans are a must!
We hate to add anything to your already long list — after all, Teach Starter’s a place full of teachers — so we’ve made it easy to get ready for a sub to take over your class! Keep reading to find out what you should leave behind for your substitute teacher, plus tips on how to create a sub plan!
What Should You Leave for a Substitute Teacher?
Every single day in the classroom is different, but before we can talk about specific lessons and sub plans, there are some basics that you should leave for a substitute teacher. We recommend creating a sub tub — a designated container labeled for a substitute teacher — and adding these things first and foremost:
- Your class list
- If there are any medical issues in the class, this should be included.
- If any of your students have IEPs, make sure your sub knows the accommodations that should be made, as well as the names of students who leave the classroom for additional services.
- If possible, include photos of each child that are matched to the list — this will foil those mischievous kids who like to “switch” with their classmates.
- Class schedule
- Include designated days and times for specials like art and gym.
- You’ll also need to share specific times when your class eats lunch, goes to recess, and dismisses for the day.
- If you have a teacher’s aide or other people who come into the classroom at specific times, include that information too.
- List the actual time students depart — not just the time when students start to pack up.
- Classroom procedures
- Your sub should know things like your dismissal procedure, your lining up procedure, if you have students with classroom jobs, etc.
- Student computer logins, logins to your classroom iPads, access to the school WiFi, etc.
- School information
- Include a contact list for folks they may need to lean on such as your grade level team, the principal, etc.
- You’ll also need to include procedures around lockdowns, fire drills, and the like
Download one of the printable Sub Teaching Folder templates to help set up a complete guide to your classroom for any substitute teacher that enters your classroom.
Next, you’re going to need to have some ready-to-teach lessons on hand — the sorts of assignments that can be done at any time throughout the school year:
- Take a look at your textbooks, and review any supplemental assignments that are included in the textbook. Save these for an emergency sub plan! Even if your students are well ahead, the return to old information will still be good for jogging their memories, and it gives your emergency sub something solid to do with the kids that’s instructionally sound.
- Create digital sub plans. This way, you don’t have to go into school to drop things off on your desk when you’re down with that case of strep throat. You can email a link into a Google doc, and your sub will be ready to go!
OK, but what about the actual business of teaching your students for the day (or days) that you’re out? This is where things get a little bit more complicated, but bear with us!
What Should a Sub Plan Include?
OK, you’ve already got the basics down — the stuff that you can plan ahead for from the very beginning of school. What about creating a sub plan when you have some advance warning? Here are a few tips for what you should do when you’re writing your sub plan.
- Don’t get too complicated. You may or may not be getting someone with teaching experience in the classroom while you’re gone, so always plan for the latter.
- Details, details, details! The more information you can share, the better!
- Include time for students to work on any ongoing projects. This is work that needs to be done, and you’ve already done the groundwork!
- Worksheets, worksheets, worksheets. They may seem like busy work, but the substitute teacher will thank you for anything that doesn’t require student passwords or trying to work the smartboard. Pick from thousands of worksheets already made for you!
- Review games. These are fun for the kids and will make the substitute teacher a popular person in your class.
- Seasonal activities. If Thanksgiving is coming, set aside some thankful activities. If it’s winter, grab a few snowman coloring sheets or our funky snowman. You get the picture!
What To Put in a Sub Tub
In addition to the items above, here are a few more tips for items you can add to your sub tub from our teacher team.
- Include a While You Were Gone template so your sub can make easy notes to help you get caught up quickly.
- It wouldn’t hurt to include a kind note or similar “go get ’em.” These teacher affirmation cards can be a great addition.
- A snack will be appreciated by a substitute who suddenly realizes there’s no time to eat during the day.
- Finally, we suggest some activities they can use with the kids regardless of when they show up in your classroom — games, movies, etc.
See more substitute teaching planning forms to make your classroom planning easier!
Banner image via Shutterstock/mother_ana