Off your hands! – 5 hacks for easy substitute teacher sub plans

sub plans….almost a curse word AM.I.RIGHT?! Nothing bar the sickness itself is worse than writing sub plans. They can be the bane of taking sick days because they are so tricky. I’ll give you my best tips for writing plans (ahead of time!) that can save you those days emergency sub plans are needed!

*make sure to read to the end for the BONUS tip and easily the most important way to prep!*

Plan Ahead for Days you’ll need a substitute

This can be easier said that done. I get that, BUT prepping ahead can save you so much headache on the days you DIDN’T know you would be out ahead of time. We were required to keep a day of sub plans in the office just in case for that reason.

Having at least a day or two of prepped plans eases your mind and you know you can jump right in again when you go back.

I have a few options in my store that revolve around just one topic and cover all the subjects of the day (ice cream and odd animals … perfect *and fun* for ANY classroom!)

Use a special reward system for substitute teachers

Designate a special system just for substitute teacher use in your classroom. Using a regular system could get confusing for behavior/management and a *new* system that is easy to use will lead to faster rewards and engage students even while you are gone (win-win)

Try adding sprinkles to a donut, flowers to a bouquet, balls in a basket etc… and work up to a certain number. Something visual to help students work and stay motivated!

Prep a “sub tub” with all materials needed!

Any sub plans I made sure to have everything ready to go and organized for just “grab and go.” A sub tub as they are sometimes referred to can be a great place to store all the essentials needed!

I like to have dividers for each subject (reading, math, science, social studies) and have the copies clipped together and ready to go!

Do you have a sub tub? Having an organized sub tub can help make taking days off so much easier! Check out these tips to get your substitute plans put together in a sub tub. Your sub plans will be ready to go! Perfect for emergency sub plans.

a fun note from the sub is great to add to your sub tub as well – here is a FREE one perfect to have on hand!

Don’t include seasonal/holiday in your emergency sub plans!

This might be a no brainer and we all know how I feel about seasonal/holiday (hehe), but it doesn’t make sense to add it to a sub tub or materials since you don’t know when you are going to be out.

Even if you did know when you’re going to be out, while they make good filler activities I tend to not add them as they can sometimes be harder to manage.

These are my favorite – PRINT AND GO!

Store Sub Plans and Sub Tub in an easy to find location

Keep you sub tub and emergency sub plans in an easy to find spot. Let a co-teacher or administration know exactly where they are in case need be.

Store your sub plans on a shelf that is open and in sight or designate a student helper that can help locate if need be as well.

*BONUS* Have your sub plans revolve around ONE topic!

This has been a lifesaver and worked on so many occasions! When those truly emergency sub situations arise having your sub plans not referring to pages of teacher’s guide and relying on remembering where you left the books and all the special notes around curriculum…keep it simple!

Odd Animals was the most voted topic on Instagram! Would you love to see more?!

Sub plans that focus on ONE topic and still have tons of rigor make it so easy for a sub to

  • find the material!
  • keep students on task – not referencing different books or concepts
  • Fun (engagement is a bonus too!)

I loved that the guest teacher had just as much teaching that day, my students didn’t lose any ground, and they were all excited to tell me what they learned!

If that sounds like something you would love for your classroom check out my NO Prep! Emergency sub plans (perfect for grades 3-5) in CRAZY FUN topics!

Prepare! For those days we all know are coming (may want to ignore…but know are coming!) it pays off! Make it easier for grab and go materials and plan for your students to learn while you are gone!


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