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Sub Planning Made Simple

Making sub plans is something teachers all agree that they dislike or even dread. Often, because of this, teachers “tough it out” and go to school anyway. 

Learn how to make your sub planning simple with this free training.

Going into school sick has never been a good idea, but it is even worse with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. It is possible that “toughing it out” will take you LONGER to recover and burn you out. 

It doesn’t need to be like that! We can help you make your sub-planning easy, so you can relax and take time off that you need.

Last summer, Kelsey presented at the 2020 Whole Teacher Eclectic Con. Her topic? Sub Planning Made Easy! Teachers paid $49 a ticket to attend, but you can get the training here for free! Download this worksheet to help you take notes as you watch.

Why is sub-planning so important?

By making the decision NOW to get started with your sub plans, you’ll be able to have an easy “YES” next time you question whether you should take the day off sick… instead of scrambling for last minute plans or dragging your sick kid to school with you to get plans ready.

Once you learn how to get your sub plans ready ahead of time… you’ll wonder why you EVER did it any other way!

The problem is we HATE sub-planning!

Read what some of our Wife Teacher Mommies Unite Facebook group had to say when I asked how they would feel if they never had to write sub plans again:

Think about the feeling you currently have when you think about taking a day off. Do you feel stressed about all the work you have to put in? Do you feel prepared?

If you’re not prepared, that’s probably what is causing those feelings. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The truth is… you can LOVE your sub plans!

When planned ahead of time, your sub plans are what give you the freedom to take a day off work when you or your child is sick, to take care of a family member, for an unexpected family emergency, for a mental health day, or for something FUN!

Your sub-plans give you the freedom to take off… without any added stress. How would it feel to be able to call in sick, put down the phone or close your laptop, and then just sit back and take it easy?

Let’s get you there… teacher friend

How is sub-planning made simple? Begin with two essential components- a sub binder and sub plans.  

Sub Binders

The sub binder will give your sub all the information they need to know in order to run your classroom. It should include seating charts, attendance rolls, bell schedule, student and staff info, and other necessary classroom information.

If you want to make sure you have everything covered, be sure to check out our editable sub binders

Your sub will love how organized and detailed everything is, and you will love that it is such a breeze to put together. Anything your sub could want to know for any short term and many longer-term absences is included in our editable sub binder. 

Thousands of teachers have used and trusted our sub binders. Using these, you won’t forget a thing, and you’ll be sure that everything is covered. Plus, teachers always get compliments on how organized and stylish their sub binders are… we won’t mind if you take all the credit.

Sub Plans

This is the part we most often think about. Sub plans are the content that your sub will teach. They should include (simple) lesson plans, worksheets, and materials that your sub will need. 

We highly recommend including some actual teaching material for the subs. Substitute TEACHERS can TEACH! You do not have to leave simply busy work- kids can still learn or review material.

Plans should still be simple though, remember, they are jumping in and only have a short period of time to read your plans. We generally like to leave a short writing prompt or self-guided activity for students to do at the beginning of the day, so the sub has a chance to glance quickly over the plans.

Lesson plans should be quick for the subs to read over, but they still have some instruction and learning or review for the students. Our lesson plans are always simple and include room for notes as well (for you OR the sub!) You can get these lesson plans for free in our Simple Sub Planning Starter Kit.

Simple sub planning starter kit

Simple Lesson Plan Examples

Lesson plans should be quick for the subs to read over, but they can still have some instruction and learning or review for the students. Check out the example below! Our lesson plans are always simple and include room for notes as well (for you OR for the sub!) The one pictured below can be found for free in your Simple Sub Planning Starter Kit:

We’ve Done the Planning for You!

Want more sub-plans just like these… ready to print and go? Thousands of teachers have used and LOVED our Ready To Go Sub Plans! We have options for the following:

  • Pre-K through 6th Grades for All Subjects: Math, ELA, Reading, Writing, Science, Social Studies, Brain Breaks & Art (Departmentalized versions also available for 1-6, Kinder coming soon!)
  • Bundles for all grades, special education, and substitute teachers. We have also started sub plans for grades 7-12 as of June 2020 so stay tuned for when they become available!
  • Fun sub plans with monthly themes! You can purchase single months or save by purchasing the entire year at once. Save money AND be ready all year long!
  • Planning for maternity leave? We have created adorable baby-themed Maternity Leave Sub Plans and Resources! These are currently available for 1-5 (although we have plans to add Kindergarten as well). These include math, language arts, science, and social studies! Students are always excited about an upcoming little one, and these sub plans will make your kids feel involved and engaged throughout your maternity leave.

Organize it!

Another trick is to keep everything organized for your substitute. Our favorite method for organizing sub plans is the sub tub.

You can have ALL of your copies ready with a sub tub, so the sub just has to pull them out. We also keep master copies in a binder as well, so you can easily make copies of your sub plans when the copies from your tub get used up. 

Keep your sub tub labeled, where it’s easy to see for your sub, because you may call in last minute when you don’t have a chance to get it out to put it on your desk.

Consider keeping your sub binder on your desk with a note about where the sub tub is located in your classroom as an extra measure!

Choose Some Great Read Alouds

Choose some great read alouds that your sub can read to the class when there is extra time! We’ve also compiled a list of our favorite substitute teacher books. Books with a “substitute teacher” theme are a lot of fun when a sub is in your class!

Are you interested in Fantastic Substitute Teacher Books? We’ve got a blog post for you!

Behavior Management for Sub Days

It’s a good idea to have special management procedures in place for sub days! Be sure to check out our substitute punch cards, included in this Simple Sub Planning Starter Kit.

These punch cards are special JUST for sub days… and the kids can know they get a reward if they have filled a card during the sub day(s). You can choose what that reward is.

All of our sub plans and sub binders also include our “How Did The Day Go?” Substitute note form that will help your kids be accountable to you for their behavior when you return.

Keep Subs Coming Back To Your Classroom

First and foremost are the things we already talked about. Having a sub binder and sub plans prepped and ready to go so it is clear what is expected of them- along with preparing your students and having behavior management procedures in place-  will keep subs wanting to come back to your classroom more than anything else!

But there are a couple of things you can do! First, keep track of the subs that come into your classroom. Then, give them a heads up and a chance to take the job before putting it into your school or district’s sub-finding system. When you give them preferential treatment, they will do the same thing back to you. We have you covered with a list in this starter kit to help you keep track of your subs!

And last, but certainly not least, THANK your subs! Everyone wants to be appreciated, and subs have a difficult job. They are stepping in at the last minute to cover your class. Show them some appreciation with the included thank you cards- and maybe leave them a treat, too!

Sub Plan Checklist:

  • Prepare a sub binder with information about your class (to get a thorough binder completed quickly, check out our Editable Sub Binders)
  • Prepare a sub tub with teaching materials that are printed, copied, and ready to go (for lessons already done for you, check out our Ready To Go Sub Plans)
  • Get some read aloud books to have on hand as time-fillers (check out our blog post for our favorite titles) q
  • Consider substitute punch cards, thank you notes, and keeping a list of subs on hand (find resources for each of these things inside this free starter kit!)

Your Health Matters. Period.

The #1 reason you should take your sick days is that YOU OWE IT TO YOURSELF. We have to be willing to put ourselves first sometimes. If you are sick, your recovery comes first, or you’ll burn out. Or even if you just need a mental health day, take it!

Make the choice to get started TODAY so when the decision comes about whether to call in sick or not… the answer is an easy “YES!”

Are you looking for more training?

Check out Kelsey’s other free training from the conference about the 5 Step Research Unit Process.

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Hey there, new teacher bestie! I’m Kelsey, and I created Wife Teacher Mommy just for YOU! I blog about teaching and create emergency sub planning resources to make your life easier. Be sure to sign up for my FREE sub plans here!

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