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How to Make Sub Plans in 6 Simple Steps

“Can you tell me how to make sub plans?” 

That was one of the first questions I asked my mentor teacher, in my first year of teaching. In our opening meetings, the administration asked us to have emergency sub plans ready to go and on file in the front office. I had no idea what to do! 

I’m sure many teachers struggle with how to make sub plans because it seems like a daunting task, that’s why so many teachers go in sick, rather than take the day off. Sub planning doesn’t have to be! 

Today, I’m sharing my steps for how to make sub plans.

Woman writing with computer- How to Make Sub Plans in 6 Simple Steps

Start with a sub binder

A sub binder is a place to keep all the important information your sub needs to know altogether. A binder is my favorite way to organize all of it, but you don’t have to use a binder. Use whatever form of organization is best for you, a folder or computer doc can also work! 

special offer $5 sub binder

Once you have your sub binder made, it’ll be ready for a sub any time of the school year (with a few updates from time to time) and you won’t have to re-create the information every time you have a substitute. 

I have all the tips to create a brilliant substitute binder in this blog post so I’ll keep it short here. Your sub binder should include the following information: 

  • An up-to-date seating chart
  • Attendance taking procedures
  • Bell schedule- include all school schedules, alternate or special schedules such as an assembly schedule
  • School and staff info- leave notes about who to contact for help
  • Classroom info- notes about your classroom & where to find things
  • Class list
  • Individual Student Contract Info & Pull Outs
  • Student Health Info & Other Student Needs
  • Class Rules & Behavior Management
  • Attention Prompts & Transition Procedures
  • Arrival & Dismissal Procedures
  • Attendance and Bathroom Procedures
  • Lunch & Assembly Procedures
  • Lockdown & Fire Procedures
  • Indoor Recess & Natural Disaster Procedures
  • Emergency drill procedures

Write simple, engaging lesson plans

You want to leave easy lessons that anyone can follow, but that are meaningful to students. Things like word searches, crossword puzzles, and movie notes, are fun and easy but rarely teach content. 

When possible I do like to have subs teach the lessons I would have taught, had I been there. If I know I have an absence coming up, I will adjust my schedule so that the lessons I have planned that day are easy for a sub. 

This way writing sub plans don’t seem like extra to me because they are the lessons I’m already preparing for that day. 

However, sub plans don’t need to be what you would have done in class that day. Prepare one or two lesson plans per subject that can be added at any time and have them ready to go for a sub. Doing it this way will make your sub planning really easy!

Whichever route you go, I recommend leaving your sub extra activities so that they don’t run out of things to do throughout the day. 

You can take the time to write your own sub plans or you can shop Wife Teacher Mommy Ready to Go Sub Plans here or on TPT and have them ALL ready for you

Prepare a behavior management plan

Set the behavior expectations for your students beforehand. Be clear that a sub day is not a free day to do whatever they want with no consequences.

I like to leave a behavior management system for my subs, such as punch cards or the “Word of the Day” toolkit.

substitute behavior punch cards- how to make sub plans in 6 simple steps

When I leave the punch cards, I also leave a list of positive behaviors for which students can earn punches. Things like helping the sub, completing work on time, lining up quietly, passing out papers, working quietly, and cleaning up. 

My other favorite is the Substitute Behavior Management “Word of the Day” Reward Toolkit. I pick a word for the substitute to spell throughout the day. The class earns each letter of the word for positive behaviors. Again, I leave a list of ways that students can earn letters. 

How did the day go? sub form- how to make sub plans in 6 simple steps

Leave a place for feedback

I’ve found that when I have a designated spot in my sub plans for my sub to write notes they are more likely to leave detailed notes, which I always appreciate. 

Write a thank-you note

A little appreciation can go a long way. Leave a thank you note to your sub for being in your classroom. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Organize everything in a sub tub

Once you have your sub-planning materials prepared, put them in a designated place so they are easy to find. 

I like to use a labeled sub tub that sits on my back table. I keep copies of everything my sub will need in there, so it’s always ready.

Sub plans can be the worst, but they don’t have to be! Now that you know how to make sub plans you can easily prepare for any absence!

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