Substitute Survivor Guides

I’ve been considering how substitutes will regard the lesson plans I’ve been writing. I’m trying to make them as clear as I can, assuming they know (and remember) 10th Grade level math. But what I’m really worried about is how they will get through the day. I remember subs in high school having nothing but a seating chart to go on, and those days weren’t very productive. Some classes were filled with responsible students, and we were able to read the plan and go through the lesson helping each other. Unfortunately, not all classes are like that.

I’ve found a lot of ‘survival kits’ for substitutes to bring or fall back on, but want to focus on what I can do as a regular teacher to make anyone who comes into my classroom have an easier time getting by. Here is what I’ve been able to find so far. Please add recommendations in the comments!

  • On a Clipboard:
    • Substitute Feedback Forms
      • These tend to have things like overall class behaviour, absences and tardies, and concerns. I plan on drafting one of these for my class, to give substitutes a voice as well as enable me to address any problems or successes after my return.
    • Sign-in Sheet
      • Having a back-up sign-in sheet would be great in case the sub is unable to find the attendance program on the classroom computer.
    • Period Overview
      • I found one PDF that consisted of each period, the lesson plan topic, and trustworthy students. When my mom first started driving our middle school bus route, she relied on a couple students to tell her where to go and which houses to stop at each morning and afternoon. I imagine having a go-to student (and even fellow teacher) for questions would be helpful and reduce stress.
    • What to Do/Where to Find
      • Another PDF I stumbled upon had two columns: What to do about… (attendance, homework, tardiness) & Where to find… (lesson plans, grade book, class lists). Having a compiled list like this would be a godsend if I were to substitute at this point, so I plan on making this available to my subs.
  • SubPack
    • Many resources talk about kits called ‘SubPacks’, which substitute teachers can bring into a new school. This usually has things like school supplies, activity ideas, and motivators. I’d like to have a small kit of something similar, that would have extras of things found around the classroom. Locating materials in a new environment can be tricky (just ask anyone who’s tried to find something in my mom’s kitchen), so I plan to have the necessary supplies stored in one place for the convenience of any newbie. One resource also listed first aid materials as a kit element. While I assume most classrooms will have this nearby, having some basic items (gloves, band-aids, etc.) would be handy.
  • Guidebook
    • I’ve found a printable document that lists virtually every policy and classroom activity that a sub might need to address (like evacuation plans, classroom procedures, and special education info). It is left blank, so that teachers can fill in the information for their schools and classrooms. I will definitely be making my own one of these.
  • Welcome Letter
    • I didn’t actually find this in any of the recommendations I viewed. But I think it’s a good idea to give someone filling in for you a nice greeting. I would appreciate it, anyway. It will not only have a basic welcome and thank you, but some basic info that may not be covered in the rest of the kit, as well as where to find the elements of the kit. Maybe some tips, too. Like who near the school is quick with to-go orders or who owes me favours they can spend. Something like that.
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