Want to ensure your classroom keeps running even when you’re absent? One of the best ways to do this is by preparing ahead of time for a substitute teacher. I’ve listed all the tips and tricks on how you can make sure your substitute teacher knows exactly what to do for the day. Read on for some helpful advice on looking after your students and class materials when leaving your kiddos in the hands of a parent or another educator.
Pro-Tip: Create a sub plan template in Google Docs. List all of the important times, rules, and expectations in the Doc. This way, when you’re out sick unexpectedly, you can just make a copy of the Google Doc and include your specific plans for the day. (Scroll down and you can get a template for free!)
Tip #1: Establish a plan of action – let the substitute know what they need to accomplish while in your classroom
As educators, we understand that unexpected absences happen, and that’s why we have substitute teachers ready to step in and take over our classes. But to ensure that our students continue to receive quality education in our absence, it’s important to establish a plan of action for our substitutes. The first step is to make sure that they know what they need to accomplish while in our classrooms. This includes going through the lesson plan and making sure that it’s clear and easy to follow, checking that all necessary materials are in place, and understanding any classroom procedures that need to be followed. By doing this, we can help our substitutes feel more confident and capable, which ultimately benefits our students. When you think you’ve finished all of your lesson plans, go back and read them with fresh eyes. Have you laid out all of the papers you said you would? Did you include all the important information they’ll need for the day?
Tip #2: Leave clear instructions – provide step-by-step instructions on what needs to be done, as well as any resources you have available
If you want your task completed the right way, you need to leave clear instructions. I’m not just talking about a few vague pointers, I mean step-by-step instructions with resources that will help get the job done. Remember, the key to success in any task is communication. So, if you’ve got instructions, make sure they’re clear, concise and provide all the necessary information to get the job done right.
It’s easiest if you create a numbered list or bullet points so the sub teacher can easily follow your directions for the day.
Tip #3: Provide a seating chart – having a seating chart will help the substitute quickly identify which students need additional help
A seating chart is an essential tool for any substitute teacher. In the absence of a regular teacher, a seating chart can make the transition smooth for everyone involved. By having a predetermined seating arrangement, the substitute can quickly identify the students who may need additional attention and support. The seating chart also gives the substitute teacher a way to call on students by name and ensure that all students are engaged and participating in the lesson. Additionally, a seating chart can help establish a sense of order and discipline in the classroom, which can lead to a more effective and productive learning environment. So next time you have a substitute teacher, make sure to provide them with a seating chart to help them help your students.
Pro-Tip: Add pictures to your seating chart. If you use the Skyward system in your district, you can print the seating chart with student pictures directly on it. You can even put asterisks and notes to the side of the seating chart to give tips for specific students. Label if the student has ADHD or is hard of hearing – this will make the sub’s life so much easier!
Tip #4: Prepare activities and materials – it’s important to have some activities and materials that are ready for use by the substitute
When you’re preparing for a substitute teacher, it can be helpful to have all of your activities and materials ready to go. This will not only make things easier for the substitute, but it will also ensure that your students stay engaged and on-task while you’re away. So what kinds of activities and materials should you have on hand? Depending on the grade level and subject matter, you might consider things like worksheets, reading assignments, educational games, or even videos. The key is to make sure that these materials are relevant to what you’re currently teaching, and that they’re easy for the substitute to implement. By taking a little bit of time to prepare, you can help ensure that your students have a productive and enjoyable day in your absence.
Pro tip: Don’t leave anything that requires glue and scissors unless you’re comfortable with your students using them without you!
Tip #5: Clearly communicate expectations – explain expectations for student behavior clearly in advance, so there aren’t any surprises when the substitute arrives
As we prepare for a substitute teacher to take over our classroom, it’s important that we communicate our expectations for student behavior clearly in advance. This way, there won’t be any surprises when the substitute arrives. A little bit of preparation goes a long way in ensuring a smooth and productive day for everyone involved. By outlining our expectations in a clear and concise manner, we can help the substitute feel more confident in their role and enable our students to stay on track with their learning objectives.
Tip #6: Leave a form for the substitute to complete throughout the day.
When you return to the classroom, you’ll want to know how your students did with the substitute. Make this easy by having a form laying out ready for the substitute to complete as they progress through the day. Who was tardy? Who was absent? Who was helpful throughout the day? Who ran errands for you? Who needed redirection? Who played kindly with others at recess? Not only will this give you insight into the substitute’s day, it will also allow the sub to self-reflect. Who is consistently being a leader? Complement them more often! Who is consistently being kind to classmates? Find a way to showcase them throughout the day!
Want a checklist done for you? Grab it for FREE here!
Tip #7: Give choices to the substitute. Maybe they would prefer students to work in centers or maybe they would like students to work as a whole group instead.
As a substitute teacher, it can be intimidating to walk into a new classroom and have to take charge of a group of students. It can be helpful to have options for how you want to structure the day. Maybe you prefer to have students work in centers, allowing them to explore different topics in small groups. Or perhaps you feel more comfortable leading a whole group discussion. Giving choices to the substitute allows for flexibility and can help create a more positive and productive learning environment. It’s important to find what works best for you and the students in order to create a successful day together.
Pro-Tip: On your sub plans, indicate the options for the substitute to decide. Example: Students can work on this reading passage as a whole group or you can allow them to pick a partner to read with. If students appear off task, feel free to bring them back to the whole group to finish the passage or you can even let them finish independently.
Tip #8: Leave the substitute with a behavior management plan specific to that day.
Leaving a substitute with a behavior management plan specific to that day can make all the difference in ensuring a smooth classroom experience. By providing clear guidelines and expectations for the students, the substitute teacher can maintain a positive learning environment and minimize disruptions. Whether it’s reminding the class about the importance of respecting others or outlining consequences for misbehavior, a well-crafted behavior management plan can help the substitute teacher stay in control and keep the focus on learning. With this approach, students can feel confident that they know exactly what is expected of them, and the substitute teacher can avoid any potential unruliness. So, the next time you’re preparing for a substitute, take the extra time to develop a detailed behavior management plan – you won’t regret it!
Example: An anchor chart that the substitute can complete throughout the day like this one. It can even match your lesson plans, if there’s a theme!
Bonus Tip #9: Try to leave plans that are themed. Everything for the day will focus around one topic/theme. This will create smooth transitions and keep your students engaged longer!
Imagine you’re back in school and your teacher announces that today’s lesson will be all about space. Excitedly, you begin to imagine rockets launching, planets spinning, and stars twinkling. As the day progresses, you find yourself learning about the planets, studying constellations, and creating your own aliens. By the end of the day, you feel like you’ve truly explored the vast reaches of our universe. This is the power of themed lesson plans. By focusing on one topic, teachers can create a seamless learning experience for their students, keeping them engaged and excited to learn more. So next time you’re lesson planning, try to leave plans that are themed and watch your students soar to new heights!
Try out these Shark Themed Lesson Plans! Just print and leave out for a substitute. There are 5 days worth of lessons for math, science, and reading…plus a few extra fun activities, too!
All in all, by following the tips and suggestions outlined in this blog post, teachers will have a substitute lesson plan workflow that is manageable, thorough and beneficial to students. At the end of the day, being well-prepared is key when it comes to ensuring a great subbing experience. Providing these tools and resources to substitutes helps ensure that students are given an engaging and quality learning opportunity when teachers are absent. Substitution day does not have to be chaotic – with a little bit of pre-planning and organization, it can be a day for creative teaching!
Save these SUB PLAN TIPS & Tricks!
Pin these lesson plans to your favorite classroom Pinterest board. Then you can come back whenever you need ideas or inspiration!