I once subbed in a classroom where the substitute teacher plans consisted of a handwritten piece of paper that listed the time and a subject (i.e. 8:30-9:30 math, 9:30-10:00 writing). Needless to say, it was less than helpful and inspired me to write very detailed sub plans. You never want to leave your sub and students in this position! Read below to get tips and ideas for how to write substitute teacher plans for your elementary classroom and be sure to download the free guide for how to plan for a substitute teacher!.
3 Steps for Writing Substitute Teacher Plans
Here are 3 steps for writing sub plans:
Step 1: Create a Substitute Plan Template
- Open a word processing program on your computer.
- Use the table tool to make severals rows (you can add as many as you need) and four columns.
- Label the columns as: Time, Subject, Details, & Notes.
Step 2: Fill out your Template for the Longest Day in Your Schedule
Start with your longest day… You know the one you dread because you have little or no prep and don’t have a second to breathe (or pee) because you are with the children from the moment they arrive until their sweet little selves board the bus to go home. Yes, that one.
- Save the document on your computer as “Sub Plans for a (insert the day of the week).”
- Fill in the time column. Write the time an event, activity, lesson, or transition occurs.
- Fill in the subject column. Simply label what happens at this time (morning announcements, math, etc)
- Write in the details column. Describe what will occur in depth.
- Fill in the notes column. Use the last column to include any additional information that will be helpful. If they are going to a specialist write how to get there from your classroom. Write a mini-script so the students know the sub knows how you do things. Use the same language you would use and state the expectations. For example, “It is time to transition to music class. The expectation is that you put away your math materials and line up in your assigned place. When everyone has worked as a team to turn in the manipulatives and assignment, cleared off their desks, pushed in the chairs and lined up, we will walk to the music room.”
- Continue to do this for the remainder of the subjects and activities for that day.
Step 3: Fill out your Template for the Other Days in Your Schedule
- Once you have completed writing the detailed substitute lesson plans for your longest day, you can use it to create plans for the other days.
- Begin by opening the document and saving a copy with a new name for another day of the week.
- Edit the document by adding, removing or shifting things around to customize the plans for that day.
- Repeat the process for all five school days.
3 Quick Tips for Writing Sub Plans
Here are 3 tips for writing sub plans:
- If your school has any regularly scheduled things (like early dismissal on the first Monday of the month), you may want to consider also creating a document for those days.
- Be sure to focus heavily on transitions when writing the substitute teacher lesson plans. Those are the times when the students tend to get off task and behavior situations arise. Being proactive will minimize potential issues.
- I found it helpful to write my plans in semi-real time. By that I mean I set up the template in the morning and filled it in during the day as time allowed while the kids were eating snack, doing self-selected reading, at lunch, etc. Not only did it make the task manageable, but it allowed me to be very thorough in composing my plans.
5 Things Not To Do When You Have a Sub Cover Your Room
Here are 5 things to avoid when planning for a substitute teacher:
- Don’t instruct them to introduce a new topic.
- Avoid having them facilitate a complicated craft.
- Don’t expect them to know how to use the technology in your classroom.
- Avoid asking them to make copies for you.
- Don’t expect them to execute your sub plans perfectly.
Here are some additional resources to help you with writing substitute teacher plans…
- Read these other sub plans blog posts.
- Download the free eBook.
- Purchase the emergency sub plans, which are now both printable and digital.