There's only one thing worse than getting sick when you're a teacher and that's writing sub plans! But it doesn't have to be a difficult task! When sickness strikes or you need a mental health day, don't be afraid to take it! You can't pour from an empty cup and your students will thrive when they have the BEST version of you! Here are 5 tips for making substitute plans in a pinch!
1. Keep it SIMPLE
As a primary teacher, I always focus my sub plans around a favorite read aloud! I keep it simple with fun and engaging literacy extensions that review standards we've already learned. I never leave new material for the sub! By doing this, I don't have to write extensive directions and leave my sub scratching their head wondering about the curriculum. The students benefit from practicing previously learned skills and aren't stressed about learning something new from someone they don't know. Some simple and fun activities I like to leave when I'm out include things like reading response pages (retell, summarize, story maps, etc.), math riddles, and sticker stories.
2. Stay Organized
It's important that your sub find everything they need to get through their day successfully! I like to leave all of my materials organized and labeled so the sub isn't having to search for things. I place all my resources in a "Sub Station" which is simply a desk organizer. I assemble it at the start of the year and place it out for display when needed.
If you're a visual learner, watch this VIDEO on how easy it is to assemble your own Sub Station!!
3. Use a Template!
Having a template for your sub plans also helps you stay organized and allows you to type up details in a pinch. Add directions for your sub for each subject or time frame. I love to keep this template saved to my desktop! It's such a time saver and I don't have to start from scratch each time I do it!
You can grab this template for FREE in my TpT store by clicking HERE.
Thanks to an editable template for my sub plans and an organized Sub Station, I can be ready for an absence in a matter of minutes!
Another template that saves me SO MUCH TIME and energy is my Sub Survival Guide!!! It has a prompt on each page where I edit and explain things like emergency procedures, classroom management, tips & tricks, and procedures. I keep the info short and sweet so the sub can quickly scan what they need to know and move on. Most subs don't have much time to sit and read through an extensive binder. It's also portable so the sub can carry it with them throughout the school and reference it as needed. Having this template prepped at the beginning of the year keeps me from having to explain extra details in sub plans and gives me peace of mind.
4. Don't Forget About Classroom Management
We all know how teachers and students thrive with effective classroom management strategies. Just because the teacher is gone doesn't mean it's a free-for-all. It's important to let your students know your expectations are still in place while the sub is there! If you have a pre-arranged absence, leaving a note or message for your students is encouraging and helpful for positive classroom management. I love this sticky note idea from my friend Dana @2ndgradesassypants
Another quick & easy option for incentivizing and rewarding positive behaviors is brag tags! They can be extremely motivating and are so easy to prep! Just print and cut! I prep these at the start of the year and leave them in my Sub Station for easy access.
5. Have Emergency Sub Plans Ready!
In case of a true emergency, it's best to have some sub plans printed and ready! I've made the mistake of not doing this in the past. In my first year of teaching, my dad was in a terrible motorcycle accident. I spent a week with him at the hospital in the ICU. I had no sub plans ready and I had no idea how to wrap my brain around preparing any. My amazing team stepped up and took the lead on preparing lesson plans for my sub. I was so incredibly thankful for their help during such a difficult time but I swore I would never place that burden on anyone else in the future! Now I ALWAYS have emergency sub plans printed and ready!
These No Prep Sub Plans are based around some of my favorite read alouds (Keep It Simple, right?!) and they include meaningful activities for my students so I don't feel the least bit guilty leaving them! I currently have over 20 titles to choose from!! Each set includes activities for K-2 (and some for 3/4) so you can pick and choose which activities are right for your students! You can check out all the titles I currently have by clicking HERE.
I even have a COPY FREE SET which includes Sub Plans that require absolutely NO COPIES! I mean, who doesn't love to avoid the copy room?!
I hope these tips are helpful to you as you prepare for expected (or unexpected) absences this year! If you have any tips of your own, I'd love for you to leave them below in the comments!!
**** This blog post may contain affiliate links. This means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided.