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April 17, 2015 New and Improved Substitute Teacher Folder By Rhonda Stewart
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    With the onset of spring comes spring cleaning. Spring cleaning usually applies to scrubbing, purging, and straightening up, and my teacher workspace could use it all. I make valiant attempts to straighten and organize, but my efforts normally do not last long. During a recent attempt to make sense of my space, however, a certain something jumped to the forefront of my mind: my substitute teacher folder. It had been a while since I took a look at what was inside, so I decided to examine it and see what needed to be updated.

    In my post from last year, "Your Substitute Teacher Folder Checklist," I thought that I had nailed it. Now don’t get me wrong, it did serve a purpose, but looking at it anew, I decided there was room for improvement. So, without further ado, the new and improved substitute teacher folder.


    The New and Improved Model

    While recreating the substitute folder, I had to change my perspective. I had to look at my room and my students through the eyes of a teacher who would be unfamiliar with the students, the room, and procedures. Not just procedures for my classroom, but for the school itself. Once I got started, this project took on a life of its own.


    Sub Folder Checklist

    I started by revising my original checklist. Here is the new, improved checklist that you can print for yourself. When creating your sub folder, include the following:

    • Your schedule: Classes/subjects that you are currently teaching as well as any duties that you are accountable for (i.e. hall, lunch, bus, etc.).

    • Seating chart: This is essential. It eliminates confusion and sets the tone for instruction. I am able to create a seating chart using the attendance and grading program that my district has instituted. If this is not the case for you, Scholastic has a free online tool that you can use to create not only a seating chart, but a map of the classroom as well. 

    • Map of the classroom: Knowing where the essentials are in the classroom leaves more time for instruction. There is very little wasted time looking for materials. 

    • Bell schedule: It is extremely helpful to know when class periods begin and end. Remember to include schedules for a half-day, delayed opening, or early dismissal.

    • School map: Mark important places such as the location of the nurse’s office, specials/prep periods, cafeteria, library, gym, music room, auditorium, etc.

    • School staff list: This should include any support staff, administrators, deans, security guards, custodians, etc. You never know when you will have a “spill in aisle 9” and need to call for assistance. 

    • Hall pass: Indicate the location of passes and procedures for leaving the room. Students will have less of an opportunity to abuse this privilege once they are aware that the substitute knows the “real deal.”

    • Class management procedures and materials: Be clear about the procedures and expectations in your classroom. This will also set the tone that learning is still expected, and that teaching is going on in your classroom even though you are not present.


    Procedures and Routines

    Be clear about arrival and dismissal routines and instructions. You want a smooth start and a great finish for the day. Click on either image to access.


    Remember to include emergency procedures. In case of an emergency, having this information handy will be a big help to the person who is covering your class.


    For the most part, when we know that we are going to be absent, we are able to leave detailed plans for the day for a substitute teacher ahead of time. But there are times when the unexpected happens. If you are suddenly faced with a sick family member (this includes you!) or a household emergency (flood in basement) and you have to notify your school that you are going to be out, do you have plans available?

    I am sure that most schools require teachers to leave emergency plans with the main office, but for those of you who need a resource to develop plans on the fly, help is on the way. Here is a helpful resource developed by Scholastic to assist with the development for emergency plans. Bonus: it covers just about every curriculum area. 

    I think I have covered just about everything, but if you have a tip to add to the new and improved substitute folder, please share! I love hearing ideas that make all of our lives easier!

     Pearls of Wisdom Highlight, bold, or change the color of the text for any important information that the substitute will need to be aware of.

    FYI: Looking for a free and easy way to make labels for your materials in your classroom? Try Scholastic's Word Workshop! You'll get free eye-catching graphics with just the right amount of pizzazz! I used it to create a new label for my folder.


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My Scholastic

Susan Cheyney