Choose the "best" answer1. You've been up all night
A. battling a stomach bug
B. comforting a sick child
C. petting a neurotic dog during a thunderstorm
D. talking your sister down from her latest break up
E. all of the above
Yup. You're gonna need a sub. Should be easy. Should be a no-brainer. But it never is! How many teachers have you heard say, "It's easier to come to school sick than to plan for a sub"?
Put Down the Glitter Glue
Why is it always so much fun to do anything else besides creating sub plans. You've probably seen the cute "Sub Tubs" on Pinterest. Am I the only one who would rather decorate the sub tub rather than fill it?
But this is the time of year to create, plan, amass and finally conquer your sub plans! You will be so, so happy in a few months when you need them. But where to get started?
The Essentials for Sub Plans
1. Make it easy. Anyone who has had to rely on a long-term sub will tell you that the primary goal of having a sub is keeping her happy!! It is wonderful to have a sub who loves to teach your classes. Make your sub's job easier.
- Provide crystal clear directions. Your sub may not be an experienced teacher. Keep that in mind.
- Make sure you provide the sub with everything he or she will need. Make all the copies, have the teacher key, provide directions for teaching.
- Have your class schedule, class lists, and seating chart clearly labled and available.
- Put all your sub stuff in a binder or folder (or hey, go ahead and make a cute sub tub of your own!). Make sure it is easy to find.
2. Make it clear. What do you want the sub to do? Your sub probably won't be able to follow your lesson plans. Especially if they are as cryptic as mine are!
But if you do want your sub to continue with your plans (an you have time to plan ahead), try "blowing them up." I do this by breaking them down step by step. I don't include objectives, but I make it clear by using a numbered list.
If you're in love with checklists like I am (you can read my post about how I use them), provide a checklist next to your plans so the sub can mark what is and isn't completed. Or use this "What Happened Today" chart. Find it here for free: "What Happened Today" note from the Sub
|Freebie available on my TPT store!|
3. Make it meaningful. There's a good chance that you don't want your sub to try to continue with the lessons you are currently working on. If that's the case, consider:
- using "evergreen" content that your students need extra practice with. This is an ideal time for them to get in some extra practice using quotation marks, capitalization, or using sentence variety. The beauty of evergreen content is that it can be used all year -- it's not seasonal.
- digging around in the supplemental materials that your textbook provides.
- scouring that bookshelf full of resources.
- pulling out those task cards!
- putting those learning games in your closet to use.
- rejecting "busy work"!
Do collect and assess what students do with the sub. Value the sub and students' work.
5. Use the clock. Help your sub by providing a timeline. Again, if your sub isn't a seasoned teacher, he or she may have no idea how much time students should devote to different activities. Provide an estimate. For example, how long should the sub allot for journaling, independent reading, or group work?
6. Change it up. You probably have your students moving around during class. They may move in and out of small groups, work with a partner, or turn and talk. Be sure to include that in your sub plans. Your students do not have to work in "monk-like silence" (a phrase a fellow teacher likes to use!) when you aren't at school. If your sub will be following your plans, be sure to build in opportunities for students to talk.
7. Plan ahead. One year, the administration wanted teachers to have two weeks of emergency plans. Whoa! That was a bit much, but once I created those plans, I reused them for several years! I don't know if you need two weeks of plans, but having at least one week will give you peace of mind.
8. Establishing Routines Helps Everyone. Your sub will love you forever if you train your students. How do you quiet your class? What do students do when they first walk into your class? How do you dismiss? Collect papers? Be sure to let your sub know the routines that you've taught your students.
I don't know why students feel like they get a free pass to do anything they want when a sub walks in the door, but having firm routines will help.
9. No study halls, please! A sub's job is difficult enough. You know how hard monitoring study hall can be. Sure, some kids will love it, but for others, it is play time. Respect the sub (and your students!) enough to provide meaningful work for the students.
10. Want more bells and whistles? My friend tucks a Starbucks gift card into her sub plans as a little extra way to say "thank you." We all know how difficult the job of a sub can be; there are tons of ideas for adding a special treat for a sub, but making sure you say "thank you" will go a long way!
Get 'er Done!
Carve out a bit of time soon to put together your sub plans. Remember that the ultimate goal is to make your time away from the classroom restful and less stressful! Knowing that your class will be taken care of while you're gone will be the best medicine of all!
Here's to a healthy school year!