Tips for Handling Substitute Teachers

There are times when you will not know, in advance, that you will be absent from your job. There may not be enough planned for a substitute. Having a substitute folder is definitely a plus. Have one that you can keep in your desk drawer or in a special spot with your lesson plan book. Inside the folder you should include the following items:

• class list and seating chart
• class schedule
• brief description of your duties and the days you have duty—i.e. lunch, dismissal, before school
• list of dependable students to carry a message to the office or another teacher
• description of your daily routine, such as how you take up lunch monies, how students should be dismissed, manner in which the office can be reached in case of emergency
• notes about the discipline/management system
• special notes on any student behavior
• special information on students—such as frequent need for bathroom or medication given at office
• names of all the staff or names of teachers in the area
• substitute time fillers and special work
stickers or special treats for good behavior
• an evaluation form for the teacher to fill out

The substitute will appreciate all the information and you will not have to worry about your lesson plans and how the day is going. Your lesson plans should be as complete and clear as possible. Note where books can be found and on what pages the lessons are found. Also, make a note as to whether or not you want your substitute to grade papers and designate a spot for them to be placed once they are finished.

For more tips on how to handle substitute teachers, check out:

6 thoughts on “Tips for Handling Substitute Teachers”

  1. andy

    I was a substitute and it is very helpful when teachers had all these things prepared. There was one time I had to go on short notice and the teacher had nothing prepared. I think it was safe to say the kids and I both felt overwhelmed. We ended up having a good day but it would have been a lot easier if I would have known what needed to be done. One thing I have found useful is teachers who have dividers with the days of the week on them and all the worksheets for that week are labeled and in the proper day, so if they do have a substitute the worksheets can be easily identified. Another thing that helped me a lot was when they left a name of another teacher that knew what they were doing that week and how it was supposed to be done. I had to use a teacher several times to help clarify exactly what the students were supposed to do. I do recommend teachers having all this stuff ready because it makes for a better day for everyone if the routine is kept the same and the substitute can easily find the agenda.

  2. Betty

    Now that I am substituting, I am so appreciative of lesson plans that are easy to follow with materials organized neatly on the desk. Before I retired, I kept a sub folder with review lessons that were fun for the kids. That way I didn’t have to worry about a sub who didn’t feel comfortable teaching sixth grade math. I also included an answer key for each lesson. When I had them write stories, I also had them illustrate their work. I had them design math cartoons based on an objective they already knew. The kids loved it, and so did the substitutes.

  3. Emily-Anne Williams

    These are great and helpful ideas to leave for a sub. I had the opportunity to set in a classroom one day and watch a sub work. The teacher did not leave helpful notes like this article says to. She was lost and the students were running all over her. She finaly got the msetted down by bribing them with outside play time. From watching that and reading this article when I have to be out a day I will be sure to leave helpful notes for whoever comes to take over my classroom.

  4. Kroatien

    Hi there I like your post “Tips for Handling Substitute Teachers” so well that I like to ask you whether I should translate into German and linking back. Answer welcome. Greetings Kroatien

  5. Briefe Schreiben

    Hi there! Your Post “Tips for Handling Substitute Teachers” is very interesting for me. Unfortunately my written English is not so good so I write in German: Dir, meinem liebsten, geh

  6. moran

    Our building principal requires all teachers to have emergency lesson plans on file in the office. In addition, I keep a sub folder by my desk along with my weekly plans. The office secretary knows about my sub folder. However, you mentioned several items I did not think about to include in the folder. I’m going to be sure to start using these ideas. Subs tell me that they like to cover for me because my desk is neatly arranged and any prearranged sub plans are very well organized. At the end of each day, I make it a point to have my desk neatly arranged for the next day. Also, subs tell me they have minimum discipline problems with my students. At the beginning of the year, I tell my students that when a sub covers for me and the sub leaves anyone’s name because of a discipline problem, that person will automatically receive an after school detention. When I return and the sub has left a good report, I give my students a small treat. It always amazes me how students will be good for a small piece of candy.

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