Getting Ready for a Sub

I am so excited to have Tanja guest posting for me today. Being ready for a sick day, emergency, etc. is always one of my weaknesses...I'm always calling a friend, running early to the school, etc. But, this year I'm determined to be prepared and you can too with these tips from Tanja!
Hello every one! I'm so happy to be here and guest blogging for the fabulous Vickie :)
Quick little bit on me. I'm Tanja from Journey of a Substitute Teacher:

I sub for grades K-5 (and do all the other fun stuff like PE, music, library, computers, etc.). I've subbed for six years now, so I'm fairly safe in saying that I know what I'm doing now hahaha. This last year has probably been one of the craziest with our payroll being cut, people leaving the district, and me being pulled in all directions. But I appreciate those teachers that helped make my day go by easier. And you can help out your subs too, with a few tips.

1. Prep for a Sub
I can tell you it is a sub's not so fun reality when they go in a class and there are no lesson plans. We understand that sometimes emergencies happen, but you can prepare as much as you can with a sub tub (or box/binder). Some teachers I sub for have these all set up. It has the class procedures, behavior management, phone numbers of teachers/school employees, and a generic sub plan. Sometimes there are special read aloud books and activities tucked in, that aren't normally done on a regular basis, that make things even more special.  I even subbed for a teacher that five days worth of stuff ready just in case!

2. Things to remember
Most of you won't know who your sub is. It could be a little old granny or a young hipster teacher. Plan accordingly so that either of these teachers can handle the day! We'd rather have too many things to do than not enough. Unless you know the sub, planning a explosive science experiment or a field trip may not be a good idea (yes, I've done field trips and science experiments lol).

3. Activities for subs
Like I said, we'd rather have too many things and not get to them, than not enough. What kind of activities in addition to the daily stuff? Depending on you and your class, there could be chance for the sub to do art time, choice time (aka free time), board games, etc. Maybe there is something you wish you could do with your class but never have time for it. It often gets put in my plans to do a choice time to let the kids just be kids. Or art with watercolors and just let the kids paint whatever they want. The second to the last day of school this year, the kinders I subbed for got to watercolor for 1/2 an hour. The number one question that I got asked so many times, even though I told them they could paint whatever was, "We really can paint whatever we want?" So sad!

4. Behavior Management
Whatever you use as behavior management, please let your sub know so that they can use it. Having as much as the day/class be consistent and normal will help the day go by smoothly. Whether it is a clip chart, punch cards, table points on the board, your sub should know. Also let the sub know how you grab your kiddos' attention. Do you have a special song, clap, or saying? Kiddos need their routine!

5. Some extra info tidbits
I may get some flack for this by other subs for what I'm about to say, but I know the subs in my district would stand with me (and this may not be part of what your district does). Leave something for us to do. I often get told to sharpen pencils, wipe the tables, and tidy the room. But then I'm still left with an hour to twiddle my thumbs in the class (and Pinterest is blocked darn it!). I don't mind copying/cutting/laminating. If it helps you out and I'd be sitting on my butt for an hour, then let me help! 

*Seating charts are helpful! We can learn a few names that way. And we can tell then if Sally is trying to sit by Natalie even though Sally is supposed to sit by Sam... oh yes, I've busted several children with a seating chart. 

*Leave room on you plans for you sub to write you a note, or a piece of paper so they can. I always write a note to the teacher. I tell them what lessons I got to, where I left off, who was a great help (who wasn't), and if there is a message for them or something happened (like a fire drill, etc). 

If you have no clue where to begin in getting ready for a sub, start with a binder! I have a freebie over on my blog that you can grab to help get ready. I also have a monthly series where I try to help teachers (and subs) get prepared!

Thanks again for letting me chat and hopefully I helped you out and you aren't so stressed about having a sub!

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  1. Tanja, this is amazing!!!!! Stop being so good at subbing!!!

    1. Thanks! Maybe if I stop being good, they'll hire me full time!

      Journey Of A Substitute Teacher

  2. Thanks for the great tips and freebie!
    Please check out my new blog at


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