Believe it or not, many teachers do not have a substitute binder put together! (I would know since I’ve been a sub before!) And honestly, it’s completely understandable.
There is so much information to put all together, and a substitute binder can easily become just another cumbersome task that keeps getting put off. However, it doesn’t need to be that way!
A sub binder lays the foundation for your classroom in a quick and easy glance for your substitute.
Substitute teachers visit multiple classrooms, buildings, and even districts each week, month, and year. Needless to say, it is a lot to keep track of!
Putting together the binder early in the year when you are healthy and prepared can make even a last-minute emergency an easy transition for a sub.
You can use your binder to give your sub all the info he or she needs to have a successful day, week, or even longer-term sub job.
Coming up with everything to include in your substitute binder is part of the daunting task, and I’ve done that part for you! Simply follow these steps, type up your information, and put it together in a sub-binder. (I’ve even got a freebie to help you get started!)
A sub binder is an important component to your emergency sub plans, but you’re already ahead of the game by reading this blog post (go you!)
Gather your materials
Before you get started, you’ll need the following materials (affiliate links included for your convenience, see disclosure):
- A 3-ring binder
- Sheet Protectors
- Sub Binder info pages (you can grab my pre-made ones pictured in this post or grab the freebie at the end of the post!)
- Cardstock (for dividers and tabs)
- Scissors for tabs (optional)
- Laminator and laminating pouches for tabs (optional)
- Glue Gun for Tabs (optional) I used this mini one.
Now that you know the materials you’ll need, here’s the information you’ll want to include inside your sub binder!
Start with a cover to label your substitute binder
Including a cover on your substitute binder is important- not only because you can add some style to your binder- but it also clearly labels what it is so your sub will be able to easily locate it. Have your sub binder labeled and placed somewhere that will be easy for the sub to find (such as on your desk or in the top drawer).
Luckily, my sub-binder freebie includes an adorable cover that you can use to label your own sub-binder!
Organize your sub binder with dividers & tabs
Using dividers and tabs can help you get your sub binder organized! This makes it easy for your sub to find whatever information they need quickly. I used a hot glue gun to paste each divider to the back of the divider’s sheet protector.
I like to divide my sub binder into the following sections:
- School schedules
- Class & school information
- Classroom management
- Classroom procedures
- Other information
- Emergency procedures
- End of the day forms
- Emergency sub plans
You can add as many as you want to meet your classroom needs!
Write a note to your sub
Include a note to your sub to thank them for being in your class. After all, they are making it so you can take a day off and also taking care of your kiddos for you. Your substitute teacher will appreciate the thought that you took to write them the note.
This is also a good place to explain what is included in your substitute binder (and your plans) as an overview.
Add in all your school schedules
Your sub will want to know the bell schedule and your normal schedule for the day. This will help the day run smoothly!
Additionally, including a specials schedule can help your sub because then they will know if there are any extra activities (such as library, computers, P.E., or music) that they need to be aware of (this section is pictured above in the divider section). And last, but certainly not least, if you have an alternate schedule (such as an early release day), include this as well.
Include school & staff Info
It’s important for your sub to know who some important people are at the school and how to contact them. This includes other grade level teachers, the principal, the nurse, and the custodian. You should include anyone who your sub may need to contact during the day. This could be your sub’s first time in your classroom- so it’s important that they know some crucial things about it in case they have any questions.
The school and staff info page is included as part of the substitute binder freebie as well! You’ll also get access to my free resource library with sub-plan mini lessons and more. Grab your freebie below if you haven’t yet.
Don’t forget detailed class information
Of course, you want to leave information about your class for your substitute!
I like to start by including a class list. Obviously, this is important so your sub knows the students in the class! This can help for roll call as well as helping the sub to (somewhat) learn the names of your students. (Especially if they may be returning).
In addition to a class list, including a seating chart is so important. A seating chart helps the substitute know where your students sit making it even easier to identify your students and learn their names.
Most importantly, your sub should know the names of some “student helpers”- reliable students who they can count on to ask a question. In addition to leaving a list of student helpers, I like to mark their names on the seating chart, too.
You’ll also want to include where the extra supplies, such as pencils, tape, scissors, crayons, etc., and a first aid kit are located.
Finally, be sure to include student health info and other student needs. These can be very important for students’ success and safety.
Put in specific arrival & dismissal procedures
As a teacher, you know that arrival and dismissal are two of the craziest parts of the school day! We tend to have set procedures to make these times go as smoothly as possible- but the substitute doesn’t know what the procedures for YOUR class are. Include them in your sub binder so the day can run as smoothly as possible!
Insert class rules & management procedures
Let your sub know what the basic rules are in your classroom- as well as school-wide policies.
This goes hand in hand with including behavior management procedures when students are not following the rules. Do you want the sub to do something in particular for behavior management (such as sending students to another room)? Do you want them to leave you a note and you’ll deal with it when you’re back? Let them know!
Also include classroom management procedures, such as attention prompts and how you transition, so the classroom can run as close to normal as possible while you’re away.
Don’t leave out emergency procedures!
If (heaven forbid) an emergency were to happen while you’re way, you would want your sub to know your procedures. Include routines for a fire drill (such as where to line up), potential natural disasters in your area (such as earthquakes, tornados, or hurricanes), and lockdown procedures.
Designate a place for differentiation & lesson plan adjustments (if needed)
Is there any differentiation your sub will need to do for any of your students? Are you using any pre-made lessons (such as my Ready To Go Sub Plans or any other lesson from TpT) that you would like to be adjusted in any way? Include any differentiation or lesson adjustments that may be necessary, as well as any other notes you have for the sub.
Encourage positive behavior with a behavior incentive
It is very common for student behavior to be worse for a substitute because routines are thrown off for the students. Leaving a behavior incentive that is special for substitute days can be a great incentive for good behavior.
My favorite substitute behavior incentive is these free substitute punch cards. These substitute punch cards are perfect to use as a special behavior management tool for sub days. When students show good behavior the sub can punch their cards. Every student who fills their punch card can get a reward from you when you return.
The best part is that there is flexibility. You can decide how you want to reward the students for filling up a punch card!
Another of my favorite behavior incentives is the Substitute Behavior Management “Word of the Day” Reward Toolkit. This reward toolkit helps keep the whole class engaged all day.
You pick a word and print out the letters. Then your students earn letters for positive behaviors. If at the end of the day with the substitute teacher, they have spelled the word, the whole class gets a reward.
Gather feedback from your substitute teacher with a substitute notes form
You want to know how the day went while you were away, right? When you leave a notes form for your sub, they are more likely to tell you what you’d like to know about the day. This is a great addition to your substitute binder!
When I subbed, I always liked when teachers left a notes form for me to fill out because I knew what kind of feedback they wanted.
And that’s it! While that may seem like a ton of information, it’s so important to have on hand because you never know when (or how long) a sub may need to be in your classroom.
Grab the complete sub binder, with all of the pages pictured above, here! It has quickly become my most popular resource, despite being one of my newer resources (at the time of writing this post). Teachers love how easy it is to fill in, how stylish it is, AND the low price! It is also available on TPT.
Sub planning doesn’t have to be the worst when you are prepared with a substitute teacher binder ahead of time. Get started making your brilliant sub-binder, today!
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