Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How to Plan for a Substitute Teacher

Learn how to plan for a sub, write substitute teacher plans & make a sub binder. These tips, ideas, photos & free printables explain how to plan, prepare & organize your classroom for a substitute teacher. It's perfect for Kindergatren, 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade & 5th grade.

How to Plan for a Sub and Write Substitute Teacher Plans 

Imagine being sick and simply picking up the phone, calling for a substitute teacher, and enjoying a day of rest and relaxation to get well. Preparing for a substitute teacher in advance means you and your classroom will be ready for a sub anytime. If you have ever gone to school sick because it felt like too much work to plan for a sub then you will be grateful for these tips on how to write emergency sub plans. You will learn how to prepare for a substitute teacher, what to include with sub plans, and how to access free lesson planning ideas.

Step #1 Create a Sub Binder or Resource Guide for Substitute Teachers

New (and even experienced teachers) sometimes struggle with knowing how to prepare for a sub or even what to include in a sub binder. The key is to include everything a substitute would need to know to effectively run the classroom in your absence, but to present it in a way that makes it easy to find specific details as she needs them. 

I prefer to create a sub binder because it lends itself to quick editing when you need to update the information throughout the year. You can make a substitute binder easier to navigate by:
  • using labeled tabs to divide the sections
  • color coding like information by using colored paper
  • including a table of contents
  • starting with a “day at a glance” or “important things to know” page
  • writing the information in an easy-to-scan method using bullets, text features (bold, underlining, italics), using colored pens or a highlighter
Are you wondering what to include in a sub binder? The list below is available as a printable in my free Guide to Preparing for a Substitute Teacher.
Learn how to plan for a sub, write substitute teacher plans & make a sub binder. These tips, ideas, photos & free printables explain how to plan, prepare & organize your classroom for a substitute teacher. It's perfect for Kindergatren, 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade & 5th grade.
Step #2 How to Write Emergency Sub Plans
When it comes to preparing for a substitute teacher my advice is to plan as if the person coming in has never subbed before…or been around children…or lacks ALL common sense. Chances are the guest teacher will be a professional who will do a stellar job, but preparing for the opposite end of the spectrum will help to ensure things will run smoothly in your absence. This involves writing sub plans that are thorough and easy to read. 
  • Create a Template: Set up a table with four columns (time, subject, details, notes) and as many rows as you need for each activity in your day
  • Start with your longest day (little to no prep) and save the document as “Sub Plans for a (insert day of the week).
  • Fill in each column… Time: Write when the lesson, event, activity or transition occurs. Subject: Simply label what happens at this time (math, art, etc). Details: Describe what will happen in depth. Notes: Add in additional information that will be helpful. 
  • Continue to do this for the remainder of the subjects and activities for the day. I found it helpful to write my plans in semi-real time. By that I mean I set up the template in the morning and filled it in during the day as time allowed while the kids were eating snack, doing self-selected reading, at lunch, etc. Not only did it make the task manageable, but it allowed me to be very thorough in composing my plans. 
  • Be sure to focus heavily on transitions when writing the sub plans. Those are the times when the students tend to get off task and behavior situations arise. Being proactive will minimize potential issues. 
  • Once you've completed writing the detailed plans for your longest day, you can use it to create plans for the other days. Begin by opening the document and saving a copy with a new name for another day of the week. Edit the document by adding, removing or shifting things around to customize the plans for that day. Repeat the process for all days. 
  • If your school has any regularly scheduled things (like early dismissal on the first Monday of the month), you may want to consider also creating a document for those days. 
These documents will prove to be invaluable to you not only in the event of a full day absence, but also for those times when you must leave midday unexpectedly or are pulled from your classroom for a meeting or whatnot.

Step #3 Choosing Activities for a Substitute Teacher

Learn how to plan for a sub, write substitute teacher plans & make a sub binder. These tips, ideas, photos & free printables explain how to plan, prepare & organize your classroom for a substitute teacher. It's perfect for Kindergatren, 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade & 5th grade.

If you know in advance you are going to be out for an extended period of time it is best to continue with the systematic instruction in place. However, for the sake of creating a collection of emergency sub plans it is often much more manageable to use quality activities that the students are capable of doing without additional instruction. This is a great opportunity to review past skills and reinforce ongoing concepts. 

Providing the students with activities they have seen before, yet can be varied with each use is ideal. It will increase their level of independence which will increase the time on task and decrease the potential for behavioral situations that occur when students are off task. Here are the resources I commonly use in my classroom that are also ideal for a substitute teacher.
I have also put together a collection of reusable resources that are perfect to leave with any substitute teacher. There are sets for each grade level and require no prep other than printing and copying the pages. The only other materials needed are a book (any book will do) for the reading activities, sometimes dice for the math activities, and a pencil. I love knowing that if a teacher isn’t feeling well these downloadable packets include plenty of reading, writing, word study, math and science activities to cover her for a week or more. There are 40 or more no-prep, print and go resources in each grade level packet. Click on each to view:
Learn how to plan for a sub, write substitute teacher plans & make a sub binder. These tips, ideas, photos & free printables explain how to plan, prepare & organize your classroom for a substitute teacher. It's perfect for Kindergatren, 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade & 5th grade.
Don’t forget to download my FREE Guide to Preparing for a Substitute Teacher. It contains over 30 pages of tips, photos, ideas and printables to help teachers prepare for a substitute teacher. In it you’ll learn:
  • how to protect student confidentiality when you have a sub
  • how to organize materials for a sub
  • what to include in a sub plan binder
  • what to include in a sub tub
  • how to set up the classroom for a substitute teacher
  • and lots of other tips for planning for a substitute teacher
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