Head POUNDING. Stomach TURNING. Body ACHING. You’re about to need a sick day.
It’s a teacher’s worst nightmare. You can’t function, but the pressure is on. “Did I update the student roster? Is the daily schedule posted somewhere? What if Johnny’s asthma flares up? How is the sub going to find what she needs around my room? Forget it… it’s just easier if I go in…”
Does that ring a bell? I bet it does!
As you know, most of us focus so much on having things ready for the beginning of the year that we inevitably run out of steam when it’s time to get our substitute plans ready. Then, for the rest of the year, we are worried-sick when we should be worry-free!
Fortunately, you don’t have to go through it this year when you need a sick day! Before you hang another thing on your wall, invest time UP-FRONT in putting together a comprehensive, well-organized, professional looking Substitute Binder!
Here are 5 Steps for a stress-free sick day:
Step 1 – Keep it all in one place
First, get all of your information and put it together in a place that is easy to find. Subs aren’t familiar with our rooms, and they might not be there until the last minute. The sooner they find what they need to do their jobs, the better.
I put everything I want my sub to have in a heavy duty view, 3″ binder, with sheet protectors. Binders today come in all sorts of colors and have all sorts of features. I love the “easy open” kinds, and the rings that have a straight side to accommodate a larger number of sheets.
Step 2 – Identify it
Second, make sure you insert a cover and a spine in your binder so that it’s easy to identify. Keep your Sub Binder in sight, in a place that is accessible.
- A great tip is to show at least 2 other teachers in your team exactly where you put it. That way, they can point it out to the sub and save her time!
Step 3 – Add detailed information and lesson plans
Next, make sure to add all the information your sub might need.
Here’s the information I add to my Sub Binder:
- The Daily Schedule;
- The Specials Schedule;
- Dismissal Procedures;
- Student Dismissal Information;
- Medical Alerts;
- Clinic Passes;
- Class Lists;
- Attendance Forms;
- Sub Plans with step-by-step directions for the whole day.
Then, I add Reading Lesson Plans that don’t need to be changed. EVER.
My plans can be used with any book that the Sub reads to the class. They require students to:
- Illustrate and write about their favorite part of a story;
- Illustrate and identify the beginning, middle, and end of a story;
- Illustrate and identify the main characters, the setting, the problem and solution of a story;
- Compare and contrast the setting where they live with the setting of a story;
- Compare themselves to a character in the story.
There are directions in my Generic Plans instructing the Sub to choose a book and a Reading Lesson to do with the class. I could be out for several days, and still not run out of resources!
Additionally, I add Writing Lesson Plans that don’t need to be changed. EVER. I start the year with plans that are developmentally appropriate, and just keep adding harder work as the year goes by.
Writing Lessons include:
- Small Moment – A Very Happy Memory
- Small Moment – The Scariest Time Ever!
- Small Moment – I Was So Mad!
- Opinion Writing – Car or Bike?
- Opinion Writing – Dog or Cat?
- Opinion Writing – Generic (Sub chooses the topic)
I also add worksheets for Math, Social Studies and Science, and Language Arts. Those I keep replenishing with all the copies that are made but never used… When I purchase resources from TpT, there are usually extra sheets that I can put in my binder as well!
Step 4 – Organize it
Include tab dividers to separate your classroom information, the lesson plans, and the different subject handouts.
It helps to have a table of contents so your sub doesn’t need to flip through your whole binder to find what she needs.
Step 5 – Keep it updated
Last, but definitely not least, keep your binder updated!
We often lose and gain students, a medical condition arises, or someone goes home on a different bus. Remember to update this information for your sub! SAVE the files that you typed in the beginning of the year somewhere in your school laptop so you can quickly change them when needed.
Make assembling a Substitute Binder a priority in the beginning of the year, and I promise you will never worry about taking a sick day again!