What to do with your substitute…new ideas!

by Rachel Stepp

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There always comes that time of year when you either need a little vacation or your body demands that you take one! It can be difficult to give your classroom over to someone else for the day, but if you leave the right information, you won’t need to worry! Here are a few things that you’ll want to do so that you have a successful substitute:

1. Seating Chart

There is nothing more important than leaving your class roster! Your substitute teacher will need to know your students’ names in order to have a peaceful day. If your students have assigned seats, leave a seating chart. Students might try to be sneaky and sit next to their friends, but a seating chart will prevent this from happening!

2. Class Schedule

Keeping your students in their usual routine while you are gone is the best thing for them. In order to do this, your substitute teacher will need the class’s schedule. Be sure to list the subjects, times, and locations where everything should take place. This will also help the substitute pace his or her time during the day instead of completing everything fast.

3. Class Rules

You will want your students to be on their best behavior while you’re gone, and the only way to keep track of this is if your substitute teacher knows the rules. We all know that sometimes our little darlins’ will try to get away with troublesome behavior and claim that the teacher allows them to do it, but with a list of class rules, the substitute will know this is not true!

4. Lesson Plans

Your students need to learn while you’re out for the day, so leave detailed lesson plans for your substitute teacher to follow. Make sure you leave all of the books and pages numbers that the teacher will need. (If the absence is planned, I like to leave all the teacher books opened, turned to the exact page, on my desk). If your students will be working on printed worksheets, make sure that you already have all of your prints made. Leave specific directions on tricky lessons. Also, leave extra worksheets, such as crossword puzzles, if your substitute finishes an activity early.

5. Map of the school

Where is the lunchroom? Where is the computer lab? These are simple questions that your substitute teacher might have if he/she has never been to your school before. Leave a school map with important rooms highlighted so that the teacher will be able to navigate around the school. If a school map is not available, leave the name of a nearby teacher that is will to assist your substitute. If you have a trustworthy student, he or she may also be able to help.

6. Emergency Plans

It would be awful for there to be an emergency while you were away from your classroom, but it is always a possibility! Make sure that your substitute teacher knows escape routes and emergency routines in case something happens. Post this by a doorway and outline it in a bright color. Emergency plans are good to have, even if you’re not going to be out!

These ideas are just some of the ways to help your day off be successful. Make sure your substitute feels comfortable in your classroom by leaving all of  the important information that he or she will need during the day.

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia who often shares her stellar ideas on A Learning Experience.



Filed under Behavior Management, Discipline

3 responses to “What to do with your substitute…new ideas!

  1. Jason

    These are some great and simple ideas! They will help keep me organized on days when I will need a substitute! Thanks!

  2. Rachel

    I am currently working as a substitute teacher and the list of suggestions are right on target. Also, include a contact person (e.g. teacher team leader) the substitute can rely on to ask questions when there is a need. And, students are very helpful to a substitute in locating places in the building, finding materials, knowing about specific students’ needs, teacher procedures, and rules, etc.

  3. Peggy Hernandez

    Great ideas. I keep many of the things you mentioned in a substitute folder on my desk. I also agree with Rachel about having a contact person. I always add the name of my team mate to my plans and the sub knows to go to her for anything. I also like to leave a chapter book for him/her to read out of if they have a few extra minutes before lunch or after recess. I think subs get into some behavior management issues when there is idle time. I also leave some gold coins for the sub to pass out. The children know that the sub will be looking to catch people being good. They cash their coins in on Fridays for treats, so they will work hard for the sub if they know they might get a gold coin. Thanks for the great ideas!