Substitute Teaching Guide for Regular Classroom Teachers | Student Handouts
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Substitute Teaching Guide for Regular Classroom Teachers
Informative Guide for Substitute Teaching - Sub Folder - Guide for Absent Teachers - Guide for Subs
For Regular Classroom Teachers                           For Substitute Teachers
Welcome, regular classroom teacher! Like all people, you sometimes get sick or are called away. You must leave your classroom in the hands of a substitute. This webpage is designed to help you. Scroll down for printable forms.
Basic Steps
1Prepare your students. Why? The key to success with a substitute teacher is preparation. Go over your expectations with your students. Explain that you expect the students to be on their best behavior  It does not matter how early in the year it is, or whether or not you are anticipating an absence. If you go over your expectations and rules with students beforehand, they will remember.
2Keep an up-to-date substitute teaching folder on or in your desk, and make sure that the school secretary knows where it is.  This folder should include seating charts, disciplinary procedures, disciplinary referrals, notes for the teacher sheets, blank paper, phone numbers, daily schedules, hall pass procedures, and anything else that a substitute might need.  School supply stores sell cutesy sub folders, but you can create your own from a folder or binder that you already have.  Just keep it properly labeled and stocked.
3Keep accurate and easy-to-read seating charts.  Why?  Students like to "play" with a sub.  Students will impersonate one another, often to avoid being held accountable for improper behavior.  Students from other classes have even been known to sit in on a class with a sub.  The moment kids see that they are getting away with sitting in the incorrect seats, anarchy is sure to ensue.  Never underestimate the importance of a good seating chart.  Even in the lower grades, a seating chart is a quick and easy way of allowing a teacher to address students individually.
4Briefly describe your disciplinary procedures.  Why?  Disciplinary procedures vary from school to school.  There is no need to write out your entire discipline philosophy for the sub, but let her/him know how things are normally done.  For example: "Step One: Verbal warning.  Step Two: Name on the board.  Step Three: Call home.  Step Four: Referral to the dean."  You may want to consider having simplified disciplinary procedures for subs; just remember to review these with students.
5Create lesson plans that are easy to implement.  The substitute should not be "teaching" anything.  Why?  The substitute may have a Ph.D. in Physics, but this does not mean she or he knows anything about writing haiku poetry.  Do not assume that your sub will know your subject matter. 

lso, your sub will have enough on his/her hands maintaining classroom discipline.  The best sub lesson plans involve handouts or packets (assigned as quiet, independent work) that will take the entire class period to complete.  What typically works best is a handout (due by the end of the period) followed by a homework handout that the students can begin in class if/when they finish the other handout.  The idea is to keep kids quiet and busy.  If the work is not due by the end of the period, students will say, "I'll just do this at home," then spend the class period chatting with their friends.

ake sure that the lesson plans are related to the current course content.  If you are in the middle of a unit on the Holocaust and leave a "U.S. Presidents" word search for the kids to complete, the kids are instantly going to recognize this as busy work (and they'll know that you'll never look at it). 
6Clear away the clutter.  Why?  A substitute is similar to a guest in your home.  Would you invite a guest to sit on a chair covered in your extra sweaters, and work at a desk piled a foot high with your junk?  Keep your desk clean, and make sure that basic supplies are stocked and easy to locate (paper and binder clips, post-its, pens, pencils, dry-erase markers).

he clutter includes anything in the classroom that students might be tempted to play with.  That model of the solar system that kids admire, but that you keep the kids away from?  Guess what--the moment students see a sub in the room, they are going to play with the solar system model. 

ids also love writing on the boards.  Make certain that all chalk and dry-erase markers are in/on your desk (where the sub can access them, but kids cannot).
7Have a "sub buddy", another teacher nearby who knows your routines.  Why?  Sub buddies know where one another's sub folders and emergency lesson plans are.  They offer assistance to one another's subs.
8When you return to the classroom, discuss the students' experiences with the substitute.  Carefully read over any notes that the sub left.  Hold the students accountable for their actions.  It is very important that you correct/grade the work that the students completed during your absence; this will do the most to guarantee that the kids do the assigned work for future subs.
Rule of thumbThe performance and behavior of a class in the presence of a substitute is an accurate indicator of the regular classroom teacher's quality of discipline and instruction.

rincipals and other teachers are aware that some classes do well with subs, while others do not.  They are also aware that this generally reflects the quality of the regular classroom teacher.  Students who behave for their "real" teacher will behave for a sub--it's that simple.

ubs seldom, if ever, "rat out" ineffective teachers.  But who knows what a sub might tell the principal if she/he enters a classroom where there are no lesson plans, class lists, or seating charts, and where there is general anarchy and messiness?
  Daily School Site Log for Substitutes   Teacher Notes for the Substitute   Substitute Notes for the Teacher          
  Daily School Site Log for Substitutes   Teacher Notes for the Substitute   Substitute Notes for the Teacher          
Student Attendance Sheets - Can't find the roll call book to take attendance, or simply want to track who is present for an event or practice? We have an assortment of free printable student sign-in sheets.
Printable Classroom Seating Charts - Help subs identify students and where they should be sitting.
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