Middle school sub plans are a requirement in some districts. It is required that all teachers in my district have ready to go sub plans in their classrooms. Teachers usually have a binder or a magazine holder full of student information and emergency lesson plans.
What should you include in your sub binder? First, be brief – your sub does not have time to read an essay about your classroom.
- Photocopy code if you want them to copy on your planning period.
- Names of the staff on your teaching team, names of ESL, Special Education and other support teachers/staff that work with your class.
- Timetable/teaching schedule with times and locations for each class.
- Timetables of students who are on alternative programs, but are in your classroom.
- Yard duty/hall duty/other duty schedule and locations. Provide a brief description of what is required for each duty.
- Seating plan
- Bus students – if they are to be released early to prep for the bus.
- Class rules (be brief) – let students know that rules will change when a sub is in the room. For example, if you allow cellphones in the classroom – the sub may not. Students need to understand the rules that the sub creates are to be followed for the day.
- Washroom procedures – sign in/out method, how many students can go at once?
- Fire drill/emergency procedures – ensure the information is accurate and comes directly from the school or district manual.
- School discipline procedures – when can the sub get the principal involved?
- A list of students with allergies, health issues or other needs. Be brief unless the student has a formal plan. If students have a formal medical or behavioural plan my school requires these plans to be included in our sub binder. Check with your admin if these are to be included in your sub binder.
Middle School Sub Plans
As mentioned above, my district requires that any class that you teach have ready-to-go emergency lesson plans in your classroom. Below are middle school sub-plan suggestions. These can be assigned the day of your absence or kept in your emergency sub binder. I organize each subject or class period I teach using labelled file folders. In each folder, I put meaningful curriculum-related activities that my students could do in case of an emergency.
In my first five years of teaching, I was prepping a Christmas themed craft in my classroom on my planning period. I accidentally sliced my finger open and blood was pouring out of my hand. I immediately ran to the office to get first aid. I was rushed to the hospital by my principal. I had to wait at the ER to get stitches!
By the time I had arrived back to school – just in time to walk through the middle school lunch spot – the kids knew something was wrong. No one thought to have the custodian go and check my classroom or the hallway for blood. When my students arrived back in the classroom they saw blood on desks and I assume on the carpet, down the hall etc.
No one thinks they will ever be sick at school or too sick to write real sub plans, but it can happen and it is best to be prepared.
Middle School Sub Plans By Subject
I have linked to free and paid resources that can help you plan for a sub.
To make prep easier I make sure that I teach a few different activities the first month of school so that students already are familiar with these activities so that I can leave them if I’m going to be absent. I also ensure students have a Creative Writing Journal set up the first or second week of school. This assignment contains 20 different writing prompts so students won’t run out of ideas on what to write about. I also love using podcasts in my classroom. See if your students like podcasts with this free introduction lesson to Mars Patel.
Another great sub assignment is this Pet Memes Assignment. Use this engaging assignment to get students excited to write. Students will first create pet memes by captioning photos of pets with speech bubbles. Then they will take one of their favourite photos and write a day in the life narrative piece about that pet. This assignment will help teachers cover narrative writing. This lesson can be adapted for multiple grade levels as needed.
If your students LOVE sports leave them with this Professional Basketball Persuasive Writing Assignment. In this assignment, students work gathering evidence from a podcast to support their persuasive writing. After listening to the evidence presented by the podcast, students must decide who is the greatest of all-time basketball player LeBron James or Michael Jordan.
Below are links to my favourite ELA sub plans.
Activities For Any Novel
Comprehensive Emergency Lesson Plans
Middle School ELA Emergency Lesson Plans: Use these ready to go pre-made lesson plans for middle school ELA classes. Lessons have been divided up into reading, writing, speaking/listening and media literacy. Use these lessons to help students review concepts previously taught throughout the year. Lessons can be completed on paper or on the provided Google Slides templates. Included activities: Retell, Relate, Reflect, Review Novel Analysis Assignment, Daily Writing Assignment, Podcast Reflection Assignment, Media Review Assignment. These lessons are 100% free and can be found here.
I leave review sheets, task cards, number talks or games. Search for your grade and the grade below math review on Google or Teachers Pay Teachers.
This is a great go-to lesson for any Science class. Students watch a video then decide if bottled water is truly the best option.
- Bottled Water: The Best Option?
- Makeup Testers: Are They Sanitary?
- How Clean Is That Water? Public Swimming Pool Safety Non-Fiction Article
- Electric Cars Non-Fiction Article
- Self-Driving Cars Non-Fiction Article
- Dangerous North American Animals Non-Fiction Article
- Dangerous North American Snakes Non-Fiction Article
- Dangerous North American Spiders Non-Fiction Article
Leave readings about famous people who influenced history, videos or supplemental textbook work. If leaving a video, prepare questions ahead of time or have students complete a 3,2,1 Chart. 3 New Things They Learn, 2 Things They Already Knew But We Confirmed, and 1 Question They Still Have. If using the 3,2,1, Chart have students research their question if time permits.
- Alcatraz Non-Fiction Article
- The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart Non-Fiction Article
- The Titanic Non-Fiction Article
- Canadian History Videos
For geography, I often leave a mapping assignment or an article related to global issues. You could also leave a reading that relates to a specific area of the world.
- The Mystery of the Loch Ness Monster
- The Mystery of the Bermuda Triangle
- Clothing Waste – Where Do Your Used Clothes Really Go?
- The Mystery of Oak Island Non-Fiction Article
- Mapping The Continents and Oceans
- Canada Map Assignment
Art Sub Plans
Leave lessons that only require paper, pencils and pencil crayons (I keep these stocked in my classroom at all times). I always have my students keep an art sketchbook to use as a fast finisher activity that I assess/grade three times a year. This is a great activity to leave for a sub. They can put on a clean playlist and let students socialize and draw.
- Art Sketchbook Assignment
- Art Lesson: Color Wheel Worksheet Freebie & Art Sub Plans for Teachers
- Anti-Bullying Collaboration Poster Project for World Kindness Day
Health & P.E.
I usually leave articles or videos for students to read and discuss with the sub. Check your government’s website to see if they have any free food guide activities.
- Dangers of Caffeine and Energy Drinks Non-Fiction Article
- Benefits of Exercise Non-Fiction Article
- Healthy or Junk Food?
- Breakfast Sandwiches: Healthy Option?
Depending on the riles of your school, the sub can continue with the P.E. unit or have the students participate in games such as Capture The Flag. Some places have strict regulations about P.E. activities for subs so ensure you check with your administrator.
Drama can be very difficult for a sub to teach. Leave a structured activity like a drama circle or a game like charades. Alternately, leave a video of a play for the students to watch and analyze.
If you have to give another teacher their prep i.e. primary class coverage leave something for the sub like a picture book with a follow-up activity like quick writing and drawing response, colouring, or a word search. I would make these follow-up activities very generic that can be used with any picture book.
Flipped Classroom Model
If your students are already using a digital LMS like Google Classroom, Teams or Canva you could upload any daily lessons into that program and schedule them to release on the day of your absence. I have made Screencast videos and uploaded them to Google Classroom so all my sub has to do is monitor the tech usage and student safety. Learn more about flipped classroom tools here.
I hope this comprehensive list of middle school sub plans helps you successfully plan for an absence.