Saturday, July 7, 2012

Planning For A Sub

All teachers pretty much end up taking a day off or going to an inservice during the school year.  How can you better prepare your classroom for a sub to help make things run smoother?  Take some tips from me as I spent the past year subbing and I know what made things run smoothly for me!

1. Have detailed lesson plans not just your typical every day plans when possible.  Having taught for 8 years I was able to pick up whatever kind of plans that were left for me and run with it, doing it my way if they weren't detailed.  You never know though you could get a sub who has never taught before!

2. Calendar, many teachers especially in the younger grades use calendar activities.  My advice is to be super detailed like one amazing Kindergarten and 1st grade teacher did each time I subbed for them.  A few others were also detailed, but many just said the kids know what to do.  Um no, the children each seem to have their own idea on what needs to be done and this lead to me telling them we would do things may way!

3. This leads me to say don't ever put in your plans the children know what to do about anything.  Be specific on what you want.  Children will stretch the truth or act like they don't know what to do when their is a sub.

4. Leave information on who your helpful students are and who your challenging students are.  It helps to know who the sub should be able to trust and who might be pulling their leg.  The sub can also try extra hard to praise the challenging children and find out what interest them to get them to make the right choices!

5. Always leave a class list and class schedule.  There were times I had no class list given to me and had to use the names on the desk, but then what happens if you are outside for an emergency and have no class list to take with you?  That can result in a safety problem!  A few times the schedule told me when to take children to activity, but did not say where to go.  I had to rely on the children and sometimes they were wrong so we wasted time finding where to go!

6. Leave your classroom management plan with the sub - positives and consequences.  This helps greatly so we can continue what you already do.  Challenging children usually thrive on routines and when the routine such as classroom management has changed it can cause them to go bonkers!

7. Leave a list of important information: food alergies a child may have, special activities or programs that may occur that day, clubs (if they are going on during the day or after school and who is going to them), how students go home, etc.

8. You don't have to leave us worksheet after worksheet after worksheet to do with the class.  Leave us some fun games, projects, etc.  Just be detailed on how to play the game and what your expectations are for the project.  Otherwise, children tend to think it is just busy work and not graded so either may not do it or do their best on it because they just don't care.

9. Leave extra things to do!  Give us flash cards, bingo games, writing prompts, stories to read, or something to do if their is extra time.  Some classes work extra slow for subs, but others get done more than you think!  Being a teacher for 8 years it was easy for me to come up with something on my own especially for K-4, but other subs with no or little teaching experience may not have a clue what to do!

10. Leave a seating chart if you do not have names on their desk!  I had one teacher leave a seating chart even though the students names were on the desk and it just made it so easy for me to call on them and know who the child was who was causing problems.  Then I was able to let the teacher know who caused problems.  When there are no names on desks and no seating chart the children have taunted me in the past with you don't know what my name is or calls themselves someone else's name and laughs.  Seating charts also makes it super quick for attendance so we can get on with the day!

11. Instead of just saying morning announcements let the sub know how to do the morning announcements.  Do we just turn on the tv and to what channel?  Is it shown on the computer hooked to the projector screen or shown from the tv to the projector screen?  Give step by step directions on how to do it in case the sub doesn't know!  Again, don't just say the children know how to do it, it is not always the case or they play dumb to waste time!

12. If you have a sub for more than one day consider name tags.  One amazing teacher in one of my favorite classes in Kindergarten made name tags that clip on the students so they could be used anytime they have a sub.  These worked excellent since children tend to take the stickers on and off and then they don't stick!  Since I subbed for them frequently I learned their names and ended up not needing them after a few consecutive days of subbing for them, but the name tags helped me to learn their names first!

13. Is it okay for your sub to grade papers?  If so leave a copy of the answer key many of us are happy to help you out during planning time!  Also, what work do you want collected and what work do you want the children to just take home?  Each class is so different with this!

14. I am often asked by the children if they are allowed to work with a partner or a group.  I always tell them no unless it is written in the plans.  The same thing is asked about colored pencils and markers and I make my best judgement there!

These tips will make life much easier for your sub and thus help things run more smoother for you!  When I get my dream class I will now be able to do an even better job of preparing for a sub now that I know what worked so well with me as a sub!  Thank you to the many amazing teachers who I have subbed for who made my life easier as a sub.  Many of you I know consider amazing friends!

As always thanks for hoppin' by Hopkins' Hoppin' Happenings.  Keep smiling!


  1. These a great tips. Planning for a sub can be so difficult. I appreciate you being so thorough with your thoughts!

    1. Thank you so much I appreciate that! I agree it can be difficult. It certainly takes a lot of time and that's why I never missed much as a teacher!


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