Simple Preparations for Your Substitute Teacher September 07 2010

There have been a few times where I so dreaded preparing for a substitute teacher that I considered working through my illness. Then there have been emergencies when I was unable to get anything ready at the last minute for a sub.

Preparing for a substitute is more than just writing out a lesson plan for the day, and it can start now!

The Students

Preparing your students for your eventual absence from school will avoid headaches later on in the year. Start talking about Substitute Teachers during the first couple of weeks of school, laying out your expectations for the kids. Review the class rules, and the fact that these don't change just because you're not in the room. Reinforce their positive choices and self-direction, especially when it comes to classroom routines.

Reviewing these expectations with your kids every few weeks will ensure they know what's expected of them when there's a Substitute Teacher in your classroom.

The Hanging Files

I have to say, I love my hanging file box - it's an inexpensive tool that provides maximum organization. Plus, it's small and easy to transport.

If you want to use a hanging file box during the week, label the hanging files Monday through Friday. If you want to use it just for the substitute or for extra papers, label the files by subject area, along with a one labeled "Extra Worksheets." In each file folder, put the worksheets you want to include for easy access by the substitute.

Add another hanging file just for the substitute, and include a lesson plan template. Once you know your schedule at the beginning of the school year, create a template on the computer with open sections for the day's lessons. This way, you can fill in the sections with the assignments for the subject area the day of your absence instead of having to write out plans each time.

This lesson plan template can go in the special substitute hanging file, along with the Welcome Folder.

The Welcome Folder

The Welcome Folder should really only have to be created once for use through your teaching career. It needs to be reviewed before school starts, and important information updated. Here's a list of items I like to include in my Welcome Folder:

  • A physical layout of the building with a fire evacuation route
  • A daily schedule, including times of transition like when school starts, recess and lunch times and when school ends
  • A brief written description of your discipline and rewards practices as well as advice on what works well with your group of students
  • The name and location of the nearest teachers, along with the names of two students in the classroom who can be relied on to help the substitute with simple questions
  • Procedures, including how you transition students, line them up and other management tips
  • Favorite games and educational activities, as well as where any associated materials are located

Just In Case

Take some time to fill in the "Extra Worksheets" hanging file in the box. Photocopy extra sheets that are appropriate for basic review and easy behavior management. Some of these extras could include:

  • Games or worksheets used in previous classroom learning centers
  • Math drills or problem solvers
  • Brain teasers
  • Writing worksheets that focus on basic grammar, punctuation, capitalization and forming sentences
  • Word Searches or Crossword Puzzles that relate to past or current curriculum
  • Reading comprehension packets or sheets

Usually substitutes bring their own bags of tricks, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared. After all, last-minute illness and emergencies don't let us know when they decide to visit! Hopefully these tips will help the learning in your classroom continue until you can return.