Plan for a substitute by creating emergency sub plans for your middle school ELA classroom.

What’s worse than missing school? Planning for a sub!

Even if you have the luxury of planning ahead, preparing for a sub is often more painful than just being at school!

Here are some ideas to get you ready!

Need sub plans?  Prepare emergency sub plans with this quick guide.  Don't get caught unprepared!  It's easier than you think!

Create a Sub Tub (or folder)

Sub tub or folder — it doesn’t matter. You just need a place to house your emergency sub materials. A bright red folder on your desk that is clearly marked will be easy to find and easy to put together.

I like using a folder because I can have two different pockets with different material. In one pocket, I include basic information about the school. In the other pocket, I include the specifics about my classes.

Choose something that works for you. You don’t have to go out and buy a big plastic bin to be prepared for a sub!

What does the sub need to know?

In one pocket of your sub folder, you can include basic overview information about your class and school:

  1. your class schedule — make sure it includes specific times (passing period, start & end of lunch, etc.)
  2. your duty schedule — where you need to be and when
  3. your class rosters — extras if you need the sub to take attendance and send the roster to the office
  4. seating charts for each class
  5. emergency exit map
  6. lockdown instructions
  7. map of your school (if it is large — you want your sub to know where to go at lunch and where restrooms are)
  8. instructions on how to access your computer or white board (if that is applicable)

What should the sub expect in your class?

In order for your sub to be successful, you’ll want to include some specifics about your class. If you’re using a folder, you can include these in the second pocket of the folder.

  1. What is your class routine? Do your students normally respond to a journal prompt or sentence of the day (DOL) at the start of class? Do you normally take attendance at the start of each class? What systems do you have in place that students can complete automatically whether you are there or not (you do have those, right??!).
  2. What is the lesson plan for the day? Do you want the sub to follow your lesson plans? If so, make sure they are easy to find. If you want the sub to follow a separate plan, which is often easier, then make sure you have that available.
  3. Where are the copies students need? Be sure to provide copies for any material the students will need. Don’t ask your sub to make copies!

What are your emergency plans?

It can be a challenge for a sub to pick up your lesson plans and continue teaching where you left off. For that reason, it is often easier to provide the sub with a stand-alone lesson. What lessons work well for this?

Choose topics that your students always seem to need help with. That can include:

Create simple lesson plans for your sub. Identify your lessons as Day 1, Day 2, etc. so your sub can follow your plans easily.

Keep your daily plans simple. You can include a checklist for the sub to follow and check as items are taught. This will make it easy for you to see exactly what the sub has covered.

Tips for Having a Successful Sub

  • provide copies of the material you want your students to complete
  • be sure to GRADE the work your students complete when you have a sub! Middle school students are quick to differentiate between real instruction and busy work.
  • don’t offer the opportunity for the sub to have just a study hall or show a movie. This isn’t fair to a sub who may or may not have good classroom management skills.
  • Ask the sub to provide you with feedback.
  • Don’t forget to say thank you to your sub! You might even consider leaving a Starbucks gift card or even just enough change for the sub to purchase a soda at the vending machine.

Need quick lesson ideas for your sub tub? One of my favorites is a stand-alone poetry analysis activity. You can find several here.

With a little bit of advanced planning, you can create a sub “tub” or folder that will be just what you need when you have to be away from school.

With gratitude,

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