Be Nice to Your Subs!

I have been subbing recently at my son’s school while I enjoy my year off from teaching full-time. It feels great to be in the classroom again and interact with students, not to mention how happy my son is to see me around at recess and have lunch together.

I do want to say something though… I am shocked at the quality of subsitute lessons plans I have been getting. So far I have subbed twice in two different grade five classes and one time in art class.

I had to improvise a bit with one of the grade five classes because the kids had already done an activity that was scheduled in the lesson plan plus I had to find a lesson in the science book which was, and I’m going to quote now..” the page next to the picture of the animal cell and I can’t remember which page it is..” Good thing I’m a teacher huh?

As for the art class, this was the lesson plan I had to do with Kinder, Gr. 4 and Gr 3 : “Let the kids do anything in their notebook using crayons, pencils or markers or a picture for the Halloween contest” . What about the rules and requirements for the contest?

This is not acceptable, I’m sorry.

Since art is my area–I went ahead and did my own thing and boy did we have fun that day! Take a look…

UPDATE NOTE: Let me define ‘my own thing’ : The abstract art was done in their notebooks, Kinder had no notebooks and grade 3’s were given a choice as to work in their notebooks or do the lesson we did below– I don’t want to give the false impression that I totally changed the lessons. I just creatively made them more interesting 🙂

Abstract drawings in Gr. 4- cool!

Roller coasters with paper in KG- this was a hit!

Picasso Inspired Witches in Gr. 3- fun!

Better than doing just ‘anything’ in a notebook, don’t you think?

My point is this–be kind to your subs!! Subs shouldn’t be expected to know where everything is, finish off projects for you, or even start new topics! A substitute teacher is there to sub for you, not replace you. He/she is doing you a favor and deserve a decent lesson plan for the day.

Here are some suggestions I will offer that I do at the beginning of a school year. Although this is art related, use it if it helps you in another subject area because you can adapt it for sure.

1. Create one substitute folder with that title clearly written on the folder

2. Create an Sub Lesson Plan folder ( with that title on it) with the following and by grade level:

– Daily Schedule

– Typed out – not handwritten(!) lesson plan(s) for each grade level you teach with handouts clipped to the lesson if needed. Remember to write in in step by step fashion so your sub doesn’t have to guess what you want them to do.

– Clean up policy and behavior expectation along with any classroom management technique you use such as names on the board, light system etc.

Sounds like a lot of stuff? You’ll be grateful when you don’t have to scramble for lessons because you will be away. 🙂

What Kind of Lessons to leave for a Sub?

Fun lessons that don’t need too much prep and are not messy. Keep away from the paints, paper mache, carving, etc.. unless it’s really necessary. Assume your sub is not an art teacher. The same goes with music, P.E and any other specialist subject.

Collages, still life drawings, musical pictures (draw to music), group pictures, etc. are all ideas to get you rolling. Can you think of any other sub lessons to share here with us?

Once the emergency folder is filled just take out the lessons as you need them.

Say  you will be away one day. Take out your empty Substitute folder you made. Collect the lessons for each grade level you would have that day. Put them in order so the sub doesn’t have to look for it. Make it easy for them 🙂 .

Include your schedule and your clean up policy.

Add your contact number or email in case your sub has a question.

Leave a thank you note a little chocolate, candy or tea bags. After all the sub is helping YOU out and gratitude is priceless!

Finally, remember to replace the lessons as you use them up.

It doesn’t really take that much to be nice to your sub huh?

I hope this helps you and if you think this post might help someone else, please pass it on. It only take a simple click on the share buttons below.

If you need emergency sub plans that are easy to follow and your students will love, check out my e-Book below because it will be your life saver. More importantly, your students and your sub will be grateful!


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One More Thing….

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