Planning for a maternity leave, a medical leave of absence or any sort of long term leave of absence as a teacher can be stressful and overwhelming for the teacher and the substitute.

I found it was much easier to break down the process of preparing one step at a time.

First I took a teacher time inventory which really helped me to think about the parts of the day I’d need to prep the substitute more for, and which things could be left with little explanation.

I ended up finding myself making lots of lists, and I think in lots of ways this is the easiest way to communicate at a quick glance with your sub.

Here are the Ten Lists to leave a long term substitute teacher:

1.Student names and contact Information

It is also a good idea to leave parent preferred contact information.

2. List of Assessments and Due Dates

Think about district wide assessments and their due dates as well as

3.Teacher colleague contacts

Think about special education teachers, principal , reading specialist, team members, school psychologist, or other staff members who they may need to contact.

4.List of meetings/ important dates

Think about regularly scheduled meeting dates, PLC meetings, PD meetings, as well as important dates such as assemblies.

5. Bus/ Dismissal list

Include which buses students go on, or if they are dismissed to parent pick up or to an after school care program.

6.List of school accounts/login information

Think about any classroom accounts you might use on a regular basis. Think of any programs students use that have teacher access (our school used Scholastic, Scholastic News, Reading A-Z etc).

7. Thematic/ Curricular units

I always like to have some sort of thematic tie in for each time of the year, listing out themes such as ducks, butterflies, or even our CARES Unit. You can also list things like phonics skills or math units that will need to be covered.

8. Reading and Math Groups (if applicable)

List the students in differentiated groups as well as maybe a few notes about how and when you create or mix up the groups. I also like to leave two lists of “friendly parings” for the sub to choose from to make partner work easier those first few days.

9. “Menu” of activities for each curricular time- Reading, Writing, Math etc.

I use a guided small group approach during almost every time of the day. Listing out activity types/ choices. For example, I list different center types for writing center (card writing, journal writing, silly sentence center etc). This gives the substitute a good start when it comes to planning center rotations.


Think about times of day when your class really thrive on routines. Maybe it makes sense for you to list transition signals. Maybe you list routines for lining up, or even morning meeting activities.

If you’d like to use this very basic table template in Google Presentation you can click here for the link. Just insert headings, duplicate pages, and type in the tables and then print or share with your substitute.

For my complete resource including these list templates, an editable meet the teacher template, Letter to the Long Term Substitute teacher template and more, click here!