Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Top 5 Sub Plan Tips.. What's the best way?

With school upon us, I thought I'd share a bit about what I do in order to help out any teachers out there. Because, seriously, new hire or veteran... you're going to get sick eventually!

I started this year expecting the sickness to come. I'm not a 'glass half empty' kind of person. I promise. But my son started Kindergarten.So, new school = new germs. It was simply bound to happen. Sure enough. Day 5 of school (today) and the low grade fever reared it's ugly head after a night of coughing. So, sub plans are in order for tomorrow.

Here's is a snap shot of my sub plans:

So here is the very, very best advice for you writing sub plans:

#1- Be specific. Honest to goodness. Pretend that this person has never, ever set foot in a classroom before. Some of your subs... it may be true. I too was a sub at one point and one of the first times I was in a classroom, I had NO clue what a teacher would want me to do. Write what to do, what to ask (any specific questions you want them to include), what should they do during lunch, what about recess, AND where any supplies might be that they would want. I always feel like my sub plans err on the side of a Dummy's Guide to Mrs. G's Classroom... NOT that subs are idiots. But I'm just that specific!

#2- Over plan!! Trust me, it is way, way better to over plan and have a substitute not get to everything than to under plan and a sub have to fill time. Now, some subs may very well be good that that.. honestly, a lot of them are awesome about it! But, there might be that one or two that are going to let the kids make suggestions on what to do.

#3- Organize and Think It Out! Take the time to really think out step by step (or play by play) of how you go through the day. For example, when are bathroom breaks, what do you allow students to do when they are done, how do you transition, what is your back up plan for the computer supported activities (calendar or letter songs), etc. The list goes on and on. But each of those items is important to a young child who takes comfort in routine. Include the date, times, and subject/period for each time. It helps a sub to know a bit about maybe what they've been learning or what is the 'near future' end objective.

#4- Put your students first. If Little Johnny needs a special job everyday, let the sub know that. If Susie Q has a tendency to talk a lot but just wants to be heard once before starting her work, let the sub know that. The sub wants your students to succeed as much as you do! They know you are going to let the sub coordinator (i.e. secretary) at your school know if they didn't!

#5- You're Mama taught you manners--- USE THEM! Make sure to say 'Thank You'! I always end the plans with a word of thanks to the sub for spending their day in my room. Even if your children weren't perfect (who's ever are?) they may very well come back to your classroom because of the fact that you were organized and well thought out! 

 I'd love to hear your best piece of advice for teachers leaving sub plans! Leave a comment below with your tip (and email) and I'll email one lucky winner a copy of my newest pack:


  1. I created a binder with page protectors so I could slide out old pages and slip in copies and work they would complete while I was out. I had a half day yesterday and my sub raved about my binder, she loved how easily she could find everything. I think the binder helps too because some things will stay the same, and I can quickly update the things that are day specific or things that have changed cutting back on my prep time. I loathe writing sub plans, but with kids I cannot avoid being out. Hope your son feels better!

  2. My tip is leave all supplies organized and put together. Last year I had to be out for two days due to a conference, and my sub thanked me for having everything that she needed, and organized. I have the 10 multi-color drawer from Michael's, and put everything for day 1 of being out in the drawer and everything for day 2 in a different drawer. This way nothing gets mixed up and everything is ready for the sub. Hope your son feels better and your new kids are a great bunch!


  3. As I sub, I agree with all your points. I'd rather have the teacher overplan than run out. Always leave an emergency plan, just in case! I've been stuck many times with no plans at all and had to wing it.

    Journey Of A Substitute Teacher

  4. I'm a new substitute teacher (worked for 3 months this past school year after graduating college) & I agree with each of your steps above! I also loved whenever the teacher would leave the supplies for the day out, or at least tell me where they were. Seating charts are also wonderful!