5 Tips to Help Prepare for a Substitute Teacher

  • Unless you will be out for an extended absence, it is best to leave familiar activities that offer review or extensions of prior learning. This will be beneficial to both the substitute teacher and the students. 
  • Make plans for other staff members to check in throughout the day. Ask a neighboring teacher or grade level team member to stop by before school to see if the sub needs anything. Also, request the guidance counselor visit the class if you have any students you anticipate will feel anxious in your absence or misbehave.
  •  Consider ditching your normal behavior plan for the day. You know your class best, so this is a decision you should base on the cohort you work with. In my experience, though the kids always act a bit differently when a sub took my place. As a result, the subs would "overuse" the behavior system and children would become upset. Instead, provide the sub with a class list and ask her to put a tally next to a child's name if she needs to address the child. Make the children aware of this ahead of time. The accountability should be more effective than the usual plan. Just be sure to review this ahead of time with the class.
  • Include a personal, hand-written letter to the students in your sub plans. Instruct the sub to read it at the start of the day and then hang it where the children can see it. Write it in a positive way so that it is a personal reminder from you that you have high expectations and have communicated those expectations to the sub. This personal touch will reassure your nervous friends and remind your friends who need reminding that you are in touch.
  • Don't forget to make modifications to the work you leave for children who have accommodations written into 504 Plans or IEPs. I find it helpful to assemble packets of work for the students and label them with students' names. This streamlines things for the sub and allowed me to differentiate what each child would do while I was out.
Do you want more tips and free printables to help you prepare thorough plans for a substitute teacher? Be sure to download this FREE eBook chock full of information to take the stress out of being out sick.

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