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Prepping for a Substitute Teacher

As teachers, we are all well aware that it is far easier to be at school than it is to spend our time prepping for a substitute teacher so we can be gone. Inevitably, there will come a day when dragging our flu ridden selves out of bed is just not possible.

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On this day, your wonderful students, who may or may not remember that all the rules still apply even when you are gone, cannot be trusted by themselves as experience has shown us maybe more than once.

When the day comes where you need to be gone, you will have to have a substitute teacher there to watch your little “angels.” Here are some tips you can use to keep yourself prepared for a substitute teacher.

As teachers, we are all well aware that it is far easier to be at school than it is to spend our time prepping for a substitute teacher so we can be gone. Click To Tweet

Tip #1: And More!

Always provide your substitute teacher with the basic things they need which includes: your class roster, a seating chart, a list of classroom guidelines, a schedule for the day, and emergency procedures.

Beyond giving your substitute teacher the basic information they need to get through a typical day, or a day where there is a fire, you want to give them a little extra just to make it easier for them. One thing you can supply your substitute teacher with is a list of any allergies a student in the classroom might have.

If that student has an epi pen, you may also want to inform the substitute where they are. You can also give the substitute teacher a map of the school so they know where to go. On this map, include at least the neighboring teachers’ names in case he/she needs help throughout the day.

To keep all of this information ready for your potential sub, have a packet made and adequately labeled so it will be easy to find on any given day.

Tip #2: What to do?

It’s very important for your substitute to have all of the basic information ready to use at any time, but it’s also important for them to know what to do with your students. Try to have your lessons ready and labeled every day before you go home.

If possible, try to have the week ready and update it as needed at the end of each day. One way to keep yourself prepared for an unexpected sub is to have a folder for each day of the week.

At the end of each week, fill those folders with the notes, handouts, as well as anything else a substitute might need. We all know not everything goes as planned, so try to update the folders at the end of every day, just in case you have an emergency.

Tip #3: Extra! Extra!

It is always important to have a folder of “extra” ideas or work for students to do. This work can be extra practice, simple coloring sheets, or really anything to keep the substitute teacher from going insane!

I would recommend a large binder that you can add various activities to throughout the year. Within the binder, I would have tabs for each subject. Students could even pick the activity they are doing as long as it relates to the subject they are supposed to be working on.

While this may seem like busy work, if done correctly it can be a great tool to enhance learning in the long run. You can use it as an enhancer by putting in different practices that your students need, not ideas they have already conquered.

You can also use these “extras” to bring back prior knowledge which would tell you if you need to go back and reteach any concepts as well.

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Tip #4: Sub Central!

In order to be prepared for a substitute, your substitute will need to find everything that you’re going to have ready for them, as per the list above. Therefore, you need to tell someone who is most likely not going to be gone on the same day you are.


Tell a fellow teacher or two where all of your substitute information is so it’s easy to find. If you know you are going to be gone, you can lay this on the desk and leave the substitute a note so they know everything they need to know.

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Tip #5: Feedback

In all of your preparing, it’s possible you may have missed something. After all, we do a lot in a day and it’s easy to let something you deem as small slip your mind.

Leave your substitute teacher a feedback form so they can let you know what they maybe would have liked to have had or if any student caused them trouble. This will help you be more prepared the next time you have to be gone for the day.

Final Thoughts…

While none of us like to be gone, it is a part of life. Whether we are ill, our child is ill, there’s a family emergency, or something far more fun you need to do, being gone from work is a part of life at times. To help yourself stay sane and your substitute teacher stay sane, have everything together and more! You can never be too prepared.

To help you stay organized and prepared, I thought I would share one of my favorite teacher planners with you for FREE! Simply click the link and fill out the form to grab this cute free teacher planner that you can use year after year!

Do you have a favorite sub plan you would like to share with other teachers? Feel free to share below and just maybe your favorite could be featured in a future blog post!

Until next time Educational Rockstars,

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