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Preparing for a Substitute Teacher

Simple things you can do as a teacher to ensure your supply teacher has a great day from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog. #supplyteacher #sub #sickday #teaching

My name is Crystal and I’ve been teaching for 7 years now with 2 years of Long Term Occasional assignments and being a daily substitute teacher. While supply work is not my long-term teaching goal, with the job prospects being what they are and two little ones at home, I have embraced it wholeheartedly. 

Here are my top things teachers can do to help your substitute teacher have a great day:

  • Provided detailed written instructions on where the students are to be and at what timeDo I need to walk the class to the French room?  Do I pick them up from the cafeteria or will they come up when the bell rings?  Do I dismiss students at 3:25 to start getting ready for home or are they supposed to be loading the bus by then?  
  • Seating Plans over Name Tags – I appreciate the gesture, but if you don’t normally have name tags on student desks, don’t make special ones for when the supply teacher comes.  If the name tags are always there then no one really notices them and they are GREAT, but once someone hands out the special ones it doesn’t take long before they start trading them or moving seats with them.  A seating plan is much more useful.  
  • Really big binders full of information aren’t so useful eitherI know some principals require detailed supply teacher binders and I know they are a TON of work for you, but a one page brief on your students with special needs is awesome!
  • A class list goes a long way – If you leave me one to write little notes to myself, I’ll love you forever. 🙂

  • If you save something on the teacher hard drive or Google Cloud, I probably don’t have access. You know that fabulous lesson on molecules that you spent an hour working on and want me to put up on the Smart Board today for science?  The one you saved on your school’s teacher drive (the one only teachers can see and students can’t access)?  Well I can’t access it either because I don’t actually work for your school. 
  • To mark or not to mark? It really is a big question that I still struggle with and I’d love your feedback. When I am filling in for someone, I usually ask myself what they would be doing during their prep and try to use the time to help the teacher. I also (seldom) have IEP information, nor do I know the pre-teaching given before an assignments which means I am uncomfortable giving marks. Over the years I have “refined” my marking practice to be the following: I give a score on spelling tests and skill/drill math. I write back to journals. I correct/sticker math worksheets when appropriate, but do not assign a mark. You can also tell me not to mark anything. I just want to make good use of your planning time. 
  • Give us a heads up for special events, outdoor yard duty, Phys-Ed class etcFor special events like class trips or track and field day, it is really, really appreciated if you can tell your supply in advance, either by email or include it in the special instructions section in the automated booking system. True story: I once showed up to a school wearing very dressy clothes only to be told that it was track and field day and I’d be running the softball throw station.  I didn’t have sunscreen or running shoes and let me tell you rain that drenched us mid day did nothing to help my blouse and dress pants. 
  • Don’t stress! Whether you’ve called in for a sick day, a personal day or are at a track meet, don’t worry about your students.  Your supply teacher will be able to handle things if your outdoor gym lesson is rained out or if that assembly is cancelled.  Most of us have a “portable classroom” in our trunks with games, books and even craft supplies…..    

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