Tips on Preparing for a Long Term Substitute

By Megan Power on April 30, 2010
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8


I am in what they call the “nesting phase” of my pregnancy. As a teacher not only do I nest at home but I find myself really nesting at school too. I have been trying to clean things out and organize my classroom as I prep for my long term substitute. Leaving my students is like leaving my own children. I know that my substitute is a wonderful teacher and that my students will be in good hands, but I still want to make the transition as smooth as possible. Here are a few recommendations and tips for preparing for a long term substitute.


When you are looking for a long term substitute, I recommend that you help interview for the position if it is possible. It is important to find someone who you can see connecting with your students and fitting into your teaching philosophy. This will also help you to feel more comfortable when the time comes to hand over your keys.

When I had my first son I was on maternity leave from the middle of October and I came back in January. Because I started my class in the beginning of the year and I was coming back to work for the remainder of the year, I wanted to make sure that my substitute was able to sustain the systems that I had setup in the beginning of the year. This would make the transition back a little easier.

With this pregnancy I will be on maternity leave from early May and I will not come back until the next school year, Keeping up with the exact systems I have in place is not as important this time around. Of course my students are trained and used to the routines I have set forth so it will be easier for my substitute to continue them.

If you are able to, I would also recommend that you have the substitute come and observe your classroom. This is a great way for the sub to get a feel for the way your classroom runs as well as getting to know your students. This also helps the children to have a chance to meet the substitute before you are gone which will help lower their anxiety.

To help the transition run smoothly here are a few tips:

• Leave a detailed schedule

• Detailed notebook of previous guided reading lessons and notes on student progress.

• Description of student behaviors and strategies that work

• Classroom management strategies

• Outline of desired units and/or standards to cover in the different subject areas while you are out gives substitute a direction to go in

• Leave goals for different students and or groups to achieve by the time you get back. For example, with my 1st pregnancy I wanted one of my reading groups to have all of their letter sounds down by the time I got back in January. This goal helped give direction to my substitute.

• Quick Find Guide- a quick reference to where supplies and materials are

• Outline of important upcoming dates for celebrations and school functions

• Parent contact list and important information needed about students

• Parent volunteer schedule and contact information

• A list of any work samples you need the substitute to keep in students' portfolios

• Specific assessments that need to be given

I would love to hear any other tips that helped  if you have gone out on long term leave or if you have been a long term substitute, I am really interested to hear your thoughts!


On the flip side of this situation, as a classroom teacher, what would you expect your substitute would leave you when you return from this leave? If you have any suggestions let me know! :)

I am preparing to fill a long term sub position in a few weeks. This will be my third time for this position so the expectations are well known to me. My advice would be to go in and SMILE. The most important thing I do each day is to show the kids I LIKE them. Since I teach middle schoolers, I find that they like to be treated like they are adults, but they are still little kids. If you treat them with respect and listen to them, they respond to you much better. I now have the reputation for being their "favorite sub" and the neat thing is that I never have to sacrifice discipline or firmness for good behavior. As long as you show them respect, they will respect you and you will be able to get to all the lessons that much quicker!(and with very little "test the sub" activities).

As a substitute teacher, I also like to make sure that I have access to any IEP info, such as goals that the student needs to be working on.

Great info!

for this addition. Having IEP information is very important for long term substitutes. Smiles, Megan

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