Over the course of a school year, there are bound to be a few days when your class will need a substitute teacher. Many of us consider days when we're away from our classrooms to be 'free days' for our students. But substitute teachers are still teachers, and your students can still learn on those days when you can't be in the classroom. All it takes is a little bit of preparation and planning, and you can create a sub plan that can be used at any time.
Keep It Together
Make it easy on your substitute by keeping all the information he or she will need in one place. Some teachers use a binder (easy to carry around). Others use a file box or bin (good if you teach more than one class or subject who might need different lesson plans).
Some schools are lucky enough to have a regular pool of substitute teachers, but many schools share substitutes throughout the district, and the person subbing for you may not be familiar with your school building, let alone your students. Help him out and include some general information about the school - your daily schedule, where things (like staff restrooms, and the teacher's lounge) are located, and whom to ask if they have questions.
Best Laid Plans
Regardless of the lesson plans you leave, always have an extra activity available, just in case. Listening activities are perfect for sub plans. Students can work independently and you can create a somewhat generic plan that can be applied to any unit. Here are just a few ideas:
- Word Search: Ask students to choose a story (or curate a list for them) and have them listen for vocabulary list words, homonyms, or synonyms. When you get back, turn their work into a community creating activity by asking students to share some of the words they found. You can even take it a step further by asking them to use the words they found in a sentence that describes some aspect of the day you were absent.
- Swashcbuckling STEM: Younger students tend to be more thrown off when their teacher is absent. Have them listen to pirate stories while you're away and then tie it back with a pirate themed activity the first day you're back.
- Writer's Workshop: Older students can always work on their writing skills. Let them use your time away to practice with a short, in-class writing workshop.
- Just Listen: Remember that 'just listening' is literacy work in, and of itself. Depending on your students' independence, you may want to curate a list of titles from which they can choose a story. Give your substitute a break too, by letting him or her know it's ok to let students listen to stories in their downtime.