1.Your substitute may or may not be a teacher.
This is a generally good reminder to consider when you begin to write or type out your plans. Consider the type of activities you’re leaving,
2. Your substitute probably doesn’t know your routines.
It’s not a bad idea to type up a set of general routines to leave in a substitute binder. It’s so much easier to be prepared for a class as a sub when they know how the students line up, procedures for using the bathroom, etc. Of course you wouldn’t want to expect the sub to follow every routine perfectly since he/she will also be generally managing the class, but it’s a great resource to have in case the substitute has any questions and can make the day go much more smoothly.
3. Leave an emergency substitute binder
I’ve written a whole blog post about this because it was that helpful to me. You can put your routines right into the binder, but don’t forget to include information about fire drills, or other emergency drills your school has procedures for. You can also leave a full set of emergency substitute plans inside in case you have to be out unexpectedly. Copies are made, and you can lay at home in bed and rest knowing that there are plans for your students.
4. Leave models and objectives for all activities-
When you leave a model of an activity and a couple extra copies it gives your substitute a chance to see what you were intending for the students to do during the time. The extra copies also give the sub a chance to model the assignment for the class, especially if it’s something that requires many steps.
5. Disrupt the schedule as little as possible-
I have substituted in many classrooms where a teacher wanted the job for the sub to be so easy that he/she just left one thick worksheet packet after another for students to complete. These have also been some of my hardest substitute assignments. Students become bored, they become fidgety, they are looking for that routine. While it may not always make sense to move onto the next lesson in math, or to continue a complicated reading group, just keeping some of those routines moving can really help with classroom management. As an example, my students used to begin the day with writing, and then readers workshop and literacy centers. Even if I did not introduce a brand new goal/ objective during writing time, I would still have the substitute do a read aloud, and give children time to write and then share. Keeping this momentum going makes them feel comfortable and also makes it more likely that they’ll also follow those routine behavior expectations.
That being said…. let’s move on to #6
6. Leave some extras.
Think about some quick and easy activities your substitute could have in her back pocket in case an activity takes a much shorter time than usual. The substitute also may not know what the usual quality of work for your students is, and sometimes I’ve had students just rush and do what we call a “hurry up job” on their work. Things like color by code, sorting activities, or even an extra quick and easy read aloud with a book activity.
7. Manage your expectations-
I never expected that everything would be done perfectly. I was flexible if things came up, or students didn’t complete the work. Remember that your substitute is probably doing the very best that he/she can and is trying to get through a somewhat productive day without knowing your students very well. Give them grace.