Substitute Planning

I don't know about you, but planning for a substitute sometimes seems like more work than if I was just in the room myself.  I want to make sure I leave high quality work, which means that explanations need to be left for the routines and procedures, as well as the lessons themselves.  I don't want a lot of downtime, as I want my students actively engaged and learning, even in my absence. So, what I have done to make my life a *bit* easier, is lay out each of my days in a minute by minute format to print out when I have a planned sub day.

My basic daily schedule doesn't change much each week.  Monday routine is Monday routine.  Wednesday I always have Science Lab and Library or Computer.  Friday is always testing day.  The routine of Calendar Math is the same each and every day.  The procedures for Fluency Practice doesn't change.  Knowing all of this, I created a word doc on my computer with all 5 days on it.  It looks something like this:

I know, that isn't a great picture.  But what you *can* see is that there is a minute by minute breakdown of my day.  For example, from 8:35 - 8:40am it says, "Welcome/Announcements/Pledge".  Every day, M - F, at that same time is the same thing.  So in the Doc, I just cut and pasted the same information 5 times.  When we do Lightning Rod, the procedure is the same day in and day out.  So that was a cut and paste as well.  Same with the closing routine.  Again, cut and paste.

So what I end up with is a 5 day detailed lesson plan that can be printed out for when I know I am going to be away for the day (or even an hour, as sometimes I am called to a meeting or whatnot).

What does change are the specific things I want to be done during reading or writing or math rotations.  So all I have to do is go in and change that specific lesson.  The format stays the same, the times stay the same, and I don't have to type it all out each time I have a sub!

I also make sure to put everything they need for the day, in the order it will be needed, as well as any samples, in a folder.  That way, everything is accessible and "user friendly".

Now, I pace my day fast (as there is A LOT that ALWAYS needs to be covered) so I don't expect everything to get done.  BUT, if I have a lot to do, I know that most of it will get done and that I won't be playing catch up when I get back.  My substitutes seem to follow the plan and there isn't a lot of "busy work" going on.  A productive day is had by all...just as if I was there.

What do you do to prepare for a sub?  Do you have a specific routine you go through to make the planning process easier for yourself?


  1. Great idea! I keep a format that I modify for the day I'm out, but it never occurred to me to do it for M-F. Thank you so much! :)

  2. Been meaning to work on my Sub Tub ideas post for a while now but never got around to it :)
    I'll def. work on it this summer once I know for sure what grade I'll be teaching next year.
    Love your ideas!

    ❤ Mor Zrihen from...
    A Teacher's Treasure
    Teaching Treasures Shop

  3. Sub plans are a booger!!! It was even harder planning for maternity leave!! I'm your newest follower :) Glad I found your cute blog!

    Let's Teach Something

  4. I have a word document that is double sided, one page per day (so the week is 5 pages). The front side is the morning and the backside is the afternoon. I then used the graph template and on the left I write my plan- in the reading I write the reading plan, in the small group reading area, I write the plan for each group, etc. On right side of the plan is the "routine". This doesn't change, but explains how I do each subject, etc. That way, if I am gone the specific plan for the day is their ahead of time and the routine is there too. No guess and no rewriting each week. Because I put the routine on the page I had to switch from a one day on each side of the page to one day double sided, but it has saved me more than once when I haven't been able to in to write specific sub plans. They can just follow my regular written lesson plan.

    Not sure if this makes sense...

    1. Whoops.. found a few grammar/typos. Sorry... :)

  5. As a sub, I thank you!

    Busy work makes me and the kids go nuts lol.

    Today, I did actual teaching and loved it!

    Journey of a Substitute Teacher

  6. I also have a saved format for my sub plans, but why didn't I ever think of having one for each day of the week. Thanks so much, for enlightening my teaching each time I visit your site! You are awesome.

  7. I am a permanent sub and I LOVE your idea. I dislike when I sub and the lesson plans are so vague that I have to make it up as I go along or ask the students....who, regardless of how well you think they are trained, will disagree over the slightest of things!!! I want to run the classroom like the teacher does, this would be of great value to help me do it! I do have a few teachers that do this on a less specific scale and even that is a help.

  8. After I made my first sub plans, I saved it and just go in and modify it as needed. I have it set up for each class period (with the times for the sub so they know). I also put in there that at 9:26 have the students return their folders to the crate so there isn't a mess left behind when they rush to the door. When I'm there, it doesn't happen, but I've come back from being gone and my room has been a disaster and folders have gone missing. So I try to build this in and give them two minutes to gather their belongings when I'm not there.


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