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Making Successful Sub Plans for Special Education- 5 Things You Must Do!

Inside: Tips for preparing sub plans for special education to make your days off successful in your classroom.

Making sub plans for your special education classroom can be exhausting. Letting your guest teacher know about each of your students’ needs without overwhelming them or setting your students up for failure can be challenging. These tips will help you in writing your sub plans for special education this school year.

Teacher with student- Making Successful Sub Plans for Special Education

Prepare your materials way before your absence

At the start of the school year, make a binder filled with information about your students’ accommodations and needs. Make sure the sub, whoever it may be, is aware of all information to help your students be successful whether it’s behavior plans, testing accommodations, or incentives to keep them on track.

If you end up being gone for an extended period of time (i.e. illness or maternity leave), you’ll want to make sure your sub is prepared for any eventuality. 

Reader Erin F. said, “I wish I would’ve left detailed information on each student. Ideas on how to be successful with each student and make learning easier for each of them. My sub greatly struggled with connecting to the students and there was a huge drop in grades while I was on leave.”

Your sub will appreciate knowing a snapshot of each student’s academics and behavior. Tips for success are also a great bonus! (These forms are included in my Complete Short & Long Term Sub Binder Bundle).

Leave information about each of your students with the sub. This will not only help your sub know what they need, but help them to connect with your class.

For special education, it’s also important to note any accommodations your students will need. You can grab these FREE student accommodation forms. These free and EDITABLE student accommodation forms are perfect for special education and general education teachers. Great for your own records or for those who may be helping in your classroom to know how to best help your students. 

Although some information is confidential, you want to make sure that any guest teacher is following your students’ IEPs. These plans are there to protect and ensure your children have the educational opportunities they deserve every single day.

Consult your team

Keep in mind that if you co-teach with another content area or classroom teacher, they may have a lot of plans already made. Work together with them to make sure things run smoothly.

Have your co-teacher share their plans with your substitute teacher when you’re absent. Arrange this at the start of the year. If you’re both going to be gone, make sure to have emergency or backup plans available.

Be sure to let other teachers in your building know where you keep your set of emergency sub plans! When you have emergency sub plans ready, all your sub needs to know is where they are located. (This is why every teacher needs emergency sub plans!)

Organize materials for each student

Your students in special education have different needs and are at varying levels. Having a clear layout of who needs to be taught what is extremely important. Consider having folders for each student in your classroom with anchor activities to support their learning. Teach your students ahead of time that these are their go-to activities when you’re absent or if they finish their other work early.

Sub Planing for Special Ed

Use social stories to prepare your students.

Some students with special needs may struggle with changes in routine.

Special Learning says, “Social stories are individualized short stories that depict a social situation that your child affected by autism may encounter. These social stories are used to teach communal skills through the use of precise and sequential information about everyday events that your child may find difficult or confusing, thus preventing further anxiety on the part of your child.”

Using social stories to prepare your students for a sub at the start of the year can be incredibly helpful if and when you’re gone.

Reader Liz C. uses this strategy in her special education classroom. “To prepare my students for a sub, I use a social story about a substitute. We review it before the sub comes.”  

Preparing students early can help them be ready if a short-term absence is extended. “My students have also had to learn to be super flexible after I shattered my wrist this year. I had to have surgery and was out unexpectedly for three weeks! I do have fantastic aides who help to keep the classroom as consistent as possible for them,” Liz said.

Leave a school map

Be sure to include a school map in your special education sub plans, especially if you work in an inclusion school where you go into general education classrooms. Students and other teachers plan on you, or your sub, to be there on time. You don’t want your substitute to get lost in the school and be late to work with student(s). 

Resources for Special Education Sub Plans

If you’d like to save time and streamline this process, ready-to-go resources from my shop can make this much easier! Our updated Special Education Ready-To-Go Sub Plans are available for grades Pre-K through 2nd, 3rd through 6th or  The Special Education Sub Plan Bundle This HUGE bundle includes lesson plans for Pre-K through 6th-grade. They are print-and-go, so all that’s left to do is print, copy, and organize the lessons.

Whether you teach in an inclusive classroom or pull students out of classrooms, our special education sub plans were designed to be implemented last minute on days where you don’t have much time to prep. It can also be organized ahead of time, utilizing forms where you can include more specific student information if needed.

Lessons from our Ready-to-Go Sub Plans were carefully chosen and compiled from Preschool – 6th grade, with differentiation included on each grade level, so that you can choose activities that are appropriate for each individual student’s needs.

The Complete Substitute Binder Bundle helps you put together ALL of the information your sub will need about your students. All that’s left to do is fill out the forms, and you’ll know that you haven’t missed a thing!

Writing sub plans for special education shouldn’t be more difficult than being homesick or out for the day. Whether your absence is planned, or you are at home unexpectedly, these tips for special education sub-plans will help your classroom run smoothly while you’re gone.

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