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How To Create a Brilliant Substitute Binder

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!

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 along with 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!)

Before you get started,  you’ll need the following materials (affiliate links included for your convenience, see disclosure):

Now that you know the materials you’ll need, here’s the information you’ll want to include inside your sub binder!

Cover labeling the substitute binder

Sub Binder Cover

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. 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 includes an adorable cover that you can use to label your sub binder! Grab your freebie below.

Grab your FREE sub binder sample now!

Dividers & Tabs to Organize

Dividers and tabs for sub binder

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.

Note to your Sub

Note to 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 taking care of your kiddos for you. You can also make this explain what is included in your substitute binder (and your plans) as an overview.


Bell schedule

Schedules for substitute binder

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 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.

School & Staff Info

School & staff info

It’s important for your sub to know who some important people are at the school. 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.

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.

Grab your FREE sub binder sample now!

Class Information

Of course, you want to leave information about your class for your substitute! Including a seating chart is so important so the substitute can identify the students. You can also let your substitute now the number of students, etc. Most importantly, your sub should know how many students are in your class and the names of some “student helpers”- reliable students who they can count on to ask a question. You’ll also want to include where the supplies and first aid kit are located.

You’ll also want to include 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). Be sure to include a class list in your substitute binder.

Class list and student info

Student Health Info and Other Student Needs

And last, but not least, be sure to include student health info and other student needs. These can be very important for student’s success and safety.

Arrival & Dismissal Procedures

Arrival and 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!

Class Rules & Management Procedures

Rules and behavior management

Attention prompts and transtitions Attendance, Bathroom, Lunch, etc

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 send them 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.

Emergency Procedures

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.

Differentiation & Lesson Plan Adjustments (If Needed)

Differentiation pageAdjustments and notes

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 my be necessary, as well as any other notes you have for the sub.

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. For example, I have substitute punch cards in my editable sub binder!

Substitute punch cards

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!

End of day form


By the way.. you can grab this adorable “How Did Your Day Go?” form in the freebie below if you haven’t grabbed it yet!

Grab your FREE sub binder sample now!

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. You can get started with your freebie by clicking the button above! If you would like the complete sub binder, with all of the pages pictured above, you can grab my full substitute binder 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. 

And if you haven’t grabbed your freebie yet, be sure to grab it! You’ll also get access to my FULL resource library- which not only includes the sub binder form sample but several substitute mini lessons, worksheets & activities, and more!


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