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Help! No Sub Plans! What Do I Do?

Inside: It’s a common substitute teacher problem, what do you do if there are no sub plans? Read on for ideas!

Okay so picture this. You’re a substitute teacher. You get a request for a job for the following day. You glance at the info and accept. There are no sub plans in the request, but you’ll get them later. Then the next day, you get to the school and find that there are no sub plans. What are you supposed to do with no sub plans? The teacher was supposed to leave you sub plans, right?

Substitute teacher problems, am I right?

blank notebook on a desk with a pen- Help! No sub plans! What do I do?

What Should a Substitute Teacher Do If There Are No Lesson Plans?

Okay, so you’re at the school for a job and there really are no sub plans. It’s not a long-term sub position and you’re not covering for someone on maternity leave. There are just no sub plans left for you. So now what do you do?

The first step is to check with the office. Remember those emergency sub plans I mentioned earlier? The office is the place that would typically have them on file for their teachers. So head on down to the main office and ask someone. If they’re not the ones that have the information handy, chances are they’ll know who to direct you to.

Okay, maybe you did that and they don’t have any emergency plans. So now what? They left their substitute teacher with no lesson plan at all! What do you do now?

The next step is to find a team teacher. Even if there are no specific sub plans, they should be able to tell you what they are doing for their own classrooms, and honestly, you can take a lot of what they’re doing and make it work for you and the classroom that you are subbing for.

Alright, so you’ve checked with the office and they have no sub plans. You’ve talked with at least one of the team teachers and you still have no sub plans and you have no idea what to do with that classroom full of students. What else can you possibly do?

Here’s something that a lot of substitute teachers find really helpful: make a substitute teacher binder full of ideas and resources for days like this ahead of time.

Use some activities like these Free Ready To Go Sub Plans and the Word of the Day Substitute Teacher Behavior Management Toolkit to help you out on the hopefully few days like this, where you have no sub plans and the whole school left their substitute teacher with no lesson plan. These resources also include editable forms and even powerpoints that will be so helpful to you!

Do Substitute Teachers Get Lesson Plans?

As a rule of thumb, teachers should always leave sub plans. With no sub plans, how will the substitute teacher picking up the job know what they’re supposed to teach the classes? The sub-plans should be readily available when the substitute teacher arrives at the school.

A lot of teachers will actually put the plans together and email them to the substitute directly. Others will send them to a designated person in their school to get the plans to the substitute. Some teachers will print them out and leave them on their desks. Some teachers will do all three, just so they never have a situation where a substitute teacher has no sub plans.

So what if the teacher that’s out is out unexpectedly? Maybe they’re really sick or someone passed away and there are no sub plans simply because the teacher didn’t have the time or ability to make them. Then what?

Luckily, most teachers have emergency sub plans (or they should!). This way, at least the substitute will have a fundamental idea of what to do when there are no sub plans.

In case you’re not sure what these should look like, here’s an excellent resource for you to check out! Ready to Use Sub Plans is full of great resources for any teacher or sub. There are many packages to choose from, starting at pre-k and going all the way through the 6th grade! You can purchase just one grade, or you can get a pack with multiple grades! They’ll each contain printable and digital worksheets for the students. Some worksheets are fill-in-the-blank while others are multiple-choice or reading. Check them out!

Emergency sub plans should still be provided by the school for the substitute. Really, there shouldn’t be a situation in which they leave the substitute teacher with no lesson plan.

Do Substitute Teachers Make Lesson Plans?

Maybe when there are no sub plans, it’s your job as the substitute teacher to make the lesson plans. I mean, if they really left the substitute teacher with no lesson plans, you could make it up, right? No! Well, you could, but you shouldn’t have to! Usually. There are a few exceptions to the rule, however.

Sometimes, the reason that there are no lesson plans is that the teacher is on maternity leave. But in that case, you should’ve had a good chunk of lesson plans to start with, and then the reason you’ve run out of them is that you’ve passed the point that they gave you plans for. In that case, it might be your job to make some lesson plans.

Here’s another great resource for you, if that’s your situation! There are tons of Maternity Leave Resources in my shop or on TPT that you can look through. There are even fun ways to announce to a class that you’re pregnant if that’s what you’re looking for! Plus, there are individual packages for each grade through 5th! There are printable, ready-to-go worksheets as well as some fun baby activities for the class! They can guess the gender of the baby and have fun discussing it with their classmates. Check it all out!

Other times that the no sub plans turn into substitute teacher problems are when you have a scheduled long-term substitute position. Again, this is a situation in which you should have had plenty of notice that you’d be making your own lesson plans. You should also have had the opportunity to work with the teacher in knowing what they’d like you to do as far as lesson plans go.

We always hope these days don’t come around very often, but they’re inevitable sometimes. It’s nice to have a backup plan ready to go for when they do. Having your own substitute teacher binder full of resources and activities will hopefully save you from having a lot of those substitute teacher problems.

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