Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Top 3 Things To Make a Sub's (and Your) Life Easier

It may never have crossed your mind. Or you may not even care. But there are some simple things you can do to make a sub's life easier. And if the sub's life is easier, then your return will be easier as well. So, it is in everyone's interest to try a few things. Here are my top three things a teacher can do to make a sub day go more smoothly.

1. Lesson Plans! By far the most important thing to me is to leave meaningful lesson plans. Make sure your lesson plans cover your curriculum and don't include too much (if any) busy work. Students know when an assignment is busy work, and I guarantee it makes classroom management much more difficult. Make sure the lesson plans fill the time allotted for each subject or class and even include some extras for those just-in-case times. Yes, good subs will be able to wing it, but as we all know, you are not always guaranteed to have a good sub. Make those lesson plans as detailed as possible. Note things such as where students are to turn in assignments, if they are allowed to work in pairs or groups, etc. And please, please, please don't ever write the sentence: "The students know what to do." I guarantee you students either don't know what to do or pretend not to know when a sub is there. In my experience, free time and unknowns are the times when things can turn disastrous, so eliminating those two things with good lesson plans go a long way toward things running smoothly.

2. Leave a seating chart. It makes attendance easy, and helps the sub be able to learn names easier. And if possible, have nametags on desks (I realize teachers of higher grades don't do this). It makes it more difficult for students to pull the old desk switcheroo trick.

3. Leave helpful names and phone numbers. Make sure to list which students are dependable helpers and a list of helpful teachers as well as other names and numbers such as the office, nurse, discipline person, etc. That way as problems arise, the sub will know who to ask for help.

I know that if an absence is unexpected, these things aren't always possible. But if you know ahead of time that you will be out, then doing these three things will solve many of the problems that could and do arise when a sub is in the room. And remember, the easier you make things for the sub, the better shape your students and room will be in when you return.


  1. Very informative. I am sure this helps out many. Thanks for the post.

  2. I admit, I'm guilty of the seating plan thing at times. With 7 classes, I sometimes misplace a of groups' seating chart, or am guilty of not updating it when I realize I need to make a couple of adjustments for everything else to work better!
    On the plus side, I try to leave a colour photocopy of the little student ID photo sheet before we place them in the student files, so that a sub actually has pictures to go with the names!

    Mme Aiello @ Teaching FSL

  3. I "try" to leave a seating chart every time. I think this year, I'm going to take pictures, and label everything and place it into my sub folder. I think I saw something similar to that on Pinterest. It will help me, a sub, and look nice for my principal to see my Emergency Sub Folder! ;) Thanks for sharing!!

    First Grade and Fabulous

  4. Sounds good to me!! When the things you put are not in place, it makes for some rough days. As a sub, I subbed in a classroom a couple of times that had printed labels with each child's name on it, as the students arrived I would ask their name and put their name sticker on their shirt. It was great, attendance was very easy and it was nice to be able to simply look at the child and know their names. I wil do this when I get my own classroom!

  5. I would like to think all teachers do this, but I'm sure they don't. :( Great points though!

  6. Great post! I am totally guilty of slacking on a folder/bin for emergency sub files! Now I have one more thing for the summer :)

    Jessica Stanford
    Mrs. Stanford's Class
    PS I'm having a linky and would love for you to join!

  7. 'Squirrelling away' the lesson plans for a rainy day is purely a survival trick so don't feel guilty. I also scan through TES Lesson Plans then tailor to fit my needs.


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