Mrs. Magnuson Is Missing! A Winning Sub Plan
- Grades: PreK–K
I remember the feeling I had as a guest teacher in classrooms that had no plans or instructions. A sense of anxiety at not knowing what was expected of me kept me from doing my best teaching. I promised myself that when I became licensed, I would never let that happen to anyone who had to cover for me. Now I'm a pro at creating sub folders, and I'm going to show you how to be one, too.
Miss Nelson is Missing is a great book about substitute teachers. Read it to your class before you have your own substitute.
There are several ways to go about making an informational folder or packet for your guest teachers. You could write everything by hand or print out hard copies of a Word document for a physical folder, or you could get digital and put everything the sub needs to know on the computer. You could make a basic folder or a more detailed one. Whatever your preferences, the important thing is to provide something, so that your guest teachers are not fumbling around in the dark.
Most substitutes would agree that, if nothing else, you should at least leave a schedule and some kind of plan — whether the exact lessons you had originally prepared for the day or a set of activities to take their place. The last thing a guest teacher wants to do is to guess at what you want; to come up with appropriate and well-timed activities on their own and on the fly.
Miss Bindergarten makes a great guest teacher.
Sometimes Miss Bindergarten fills in as a guest teacher for others, and sometimes she needs a guest teacher herself. In Miss Bindergarten Stays Home from Kindergarten, she gets sick and her students have to get along without her for a day.
When I know ahead of time that I'm going to be gone, I read the book and we review our rules and routines. I remind my class that they should behave just as they normally would, and that I expect them to treat the sub the same way that they treat me. I count on them to make the day run smoothly.
SAMPLE SUBSTITUTE TEACHER FOLDERS
This post shows you a sample substitute teacher folder in both physical and digital format, so you can see a few of the available options. These examples may be too complex or too simple for your needs, and the numbers of pages and the amount of space for photos and writing is minimal. Adapt these examples to suit your own needs.
To see the digital sub folder in large, full-color book form, visit Mixbook.
Physical Folder Digital Folder
1. Welcome Page. Start with a welcome page that includes your name and room number.
The clip art I used in my physical folder was licensed from the Clip Art Gallery at Discovery Education.
2. Class Roster. Include a class list, preferably with student photos so your guest teacher can match names to faces easier and quicker.
Above and beyond: Place student photos throughout the folder, in the sections on students with health needs, etc. If you are assembling a physical folder, go ahead and print, Xerox, or develop a few copies of each child's photo to insert where needed. The subs will appreciate it more than you know.
3. School Personnel. Highlight key staff members, those whom it would be beneficial for your guest teachers to know by name and be able to locate. At my school, for instance, they would need to see the office manager for the room key.
Above and beyond: Add the names and locations of the other kindergarten teachers in your school, teachers in classrooms close to yours, and anyone else who could be of assistance to your guest teacher.
4. Important Student Information. Something to always include in your sub folder. It is vital that anyone in charge of your class be aware of health and allergy issues and of any kids with special needs.
Above and beyond: Make note of students with behavior problems or students who use the bathroom twenty times a day.
5. Behavior Management. This one is easy. What is expected of your students and what happens when they don't comply? Your students will be more likely to respect your guest teachers and do as they are told if they know that the same rules and consequences apply.
6. Materials. It would be frustrating for guest teachers to not be able to find anything. Be kind and point out where the basics are kept.
7. Classroom Procedures. Jot down your procedures to help your guest teachers avoid looking awkward and losing their air of authority by giving directions and signals your students don't understand.
8. Emergency Procedures. This is another necessary addition. In an emergency guest teachers need to have the information necessary to take effective action to protect your students. They especially need to know where to go — and how to get there — if they have to leave the room.
Your school should have available action plans that include policies and procedures for the most common emergencies such as fires, power outages, illnesses and injuries, severe weather, and any events that could occur in your specific region or district, such as shootings, bomb threats, and lock-downs; tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods; and biological and chemical disasters.
Be responsible for what could happen in your absence by providing guest teachers with the most complete emergency information possible.
9. Schedule. List what happens throughout the day, including times. If each day of the week is different, write out each schedule.
10. School Map. If you have a big school, provide a map so your guest teacher doesn't spend all her prep time and lunch break walking the school needlessly, trying to find the lounge, office, or bathroom.
11. Seating Chart. Do you have your students sit in certain spots during circle time? If so, make a seating chart.
12. Class Favorites. This is always a good idea in case the sub needs to fill time.
13. Dismissal. Tell your guest teachers what happens at the end of the day and how your students get home. This could potentially be the most stressful part of the day for a sub.
14. Review & Thanks! The last things you may want to consider putting in the folder are a review form and fifty cents or a dollar for the vending machine.
Maintaining the Sub Folder
You're going to have to update the folder a few times a year to include new students and take out old ones, add new student information, edit the schedule or procedures if those have changed, put the new locations of materials if you've moved them, etc. This might influence your choice of method in making the folder, since you might not want to put in so many details if you're just going to have to change them later.
Remember, it doesn't matter if it's a little or a lot, or if it's high-tech or low-tech: what guest teachers want the most is for you to give them something to teach.
Do you make a folder for substitute teachers? If so, how do you make it and what do you put in it? Let me know in the comments.
Have a sublime weekend!