Classroom Management,  Organization

How to Write the Best Sub Plans

It’s that time of year when you’re probably starting to plan a few days off from work. Or maybe you’re not, if you’re like me. I hated writing sub plans so much, that I didn’t take off work unless I had to!

Writing sub plans can be a stressful and daunting task. It’s actually easier to just show up and teach than it is to write a plan for a substitute teacher. However, there are times when we simply don’t have the choice and must get a sub.

I’m sharing with you some practical tips to writing great sub plans, so that both you and your substitute can feel at ease!

Tip 1: Give detailed sub plans.

Unless you are getting someone that has subbed for you many times before, chances are your substitute is not familiar with your classroom. Therefore, it can be helpful to provide detail in your lesson plans. Give approximate times for when things should be starting and ending. Specify how much help students should be given on different activities. Are students allowed to talk, or should they be working quietly? Make sure to lay out all your expectations so that things don’t get too far off track while you’re gone.

sub binder sub plans classroom management page

Tip 2: Keep sub plans simple.

This may seem like it contradicts Tip #1, but it is possible to be detailed AND simple! The key is only saying what you absolutely need to and nothing more.

It can be helpful to substitutes when our sub plans are detailed, but it can also be overwhelming. They don’t want to have to sit down and read a novel! Keep it to the point, and keep the lesson you plan as simple and easy to implement as possible. This will help to set your sub (and your class!) up for success.

keep your sub plans simple

To view my sample sub plan, click here. If you wish to edit it and use for yourself, simply go to File > Download, and then select the editable format you wish to use. Alternatively, you can choose File > Make a Copy to create your own copy in Google Drive to edit.

Tip 3: Prepare a few extra activities.

The LAST thing you want is for your sub to get through everything quickly and not have anything else to do. I’d say 99% of the time I’ve had a substitute teacher, my sub plans were just enough if not too much for them to get through. But there’s always that 1% where something happens and the teacher runs out of things to do.

I would always leave an easy game like bingo or some fun activity sheets for the class to do if time allowed. The first sub I EVER had somehow managed to finish two days’ worth of material in a day and a half…and I had left nothing extra for her. Oops. #firstyearteacherproblems

The next time I had a sub, I went a little overboard and left copies of about 10 different worksheets, just in case. Of course, that was the time they didn’t need them. But, better safe than sorry!

Tip 4: Keep important information in a separate binder.

emergency sub binder

Sometimes subs need to know important things, such as fire drill procedures or school discipline policies – especially if you are getting a long term sub for any reason. But your sub plans is not the place for this information!

Most of the time, your sub doesn’t need to know all of those things. It’s good to have available just in case, but keep it separate from your sub plans. That way, your sub can read through your plans without getting overwhelmed from too much information, but can still find other important information as needed.

What to Include in an Emergency Sub Binder

I recommend keeping an emergency sub binder in addition to your sub plans. This is the place to keep all important information such as emergency procedures, school policies, dismissal, seating charts, etc. The things I suggest including are:

  • Class roster
  • Daily schedule
  • Seating chart
  • Your classroom management strategy
  • Class procedures and expectations
  • School discipline policy
  • Emergency procedures
  • Dismissal info
  • Locations of important items/places
  • Contact information for you and administrators

Keep this somewhere that is easy to find and reference it in your sub plans so the teacher knows it is available to them should they need it. I also highly recommend putting a table of contents in the front so they can easily find the page they are looking for, without having to read the whole thing.

what to include in sub binder - class roster

How do you prepare for a substitute teacher?

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