Lessons for a Substitute

Hey everyone!

   Just had a thought on my mind from last week. And it's something I have to get off of my chest. What, not a happy post? I'm real and this is a real subject that I need to bring up. I was roving for a few days, which means I usually have 2-3 classes each day that I sub for. The first day wboth had sub plans. The second day they both had plans, but were completely different. One was detailed , which I love (and since she may now be reading this blog since I've been outed, love you J!) lol ;) and the other was less detailed.

   And tying in with this, Laura Candler shouted out one of my sub binder freebies a few weeks ago. It got an amazing amount of views and almost 100 shares (I'm still shocked). But I was sad to read some of the comments. The teachers were talking about not making plans for their subs. Or subs not following plans.

   Which leads me to my thought today. Ok yes, some subs don't follow plans (I know a few). But what about the rest of us that do? Should we be punished with no lesson plans? It's hard enough coming into an unknown classroom, unfamiliar schools and kids, and then there are no lessons for us to teach with?  That's setting us up for failure. And I'm sorry, our goal is to teach the children.

   Some subs would then decide it would be a movie, color, free choice day. Sorry, that's like babysitting and I'm not being paid to babysit. I am a teacher and I'm being paid to teach. I can teach content lessons. I can teach math skills. I can do reading groups (I know some of you don't know your subs, so wouldn't be comfortable having them do this).

   What do I do if there are no plans? And yes this happens several times through out the school year. Some of my schools don't require emergency sub plans or basic ones. Thankfully I have my own sub plans that I sell on TpT and carry some copies with me. Hopefully there is a schedule on the board that I can follow. I try to act like there were plans all along and don't let them see me stress. I swear they're like sharks circling and smelling fear (not so much the kinders, more the older grades).

    But what if a sub isn't as prepared as I am? What if they are new? Or it's their very first sub job? I hope that there is someone in the building that could help them. Or maybe even another sub that helps. That's why I love this 'other job' of blogging and creating on TpT. I get that chance to help out those that might not have that support. I love when new substitutes message me and I can help them out, even if it's just a little thing.

What can teachers do? I know some of you amazing teachers and I know that you spend an hour (or two) on creating sub plans. I don't know about the other subs, but I'd be happy with even a basic outline. Worst case scenario, the kids do old math centers. Or do reading activities that may be last week's focus. But at least they are learning and being productive.

  Final thought...substitutes deserve respect too. We have what is sometimes a thankless job. I'm fortunate that my main district has amazing teachers, secretaries, and assistants. And that I have the best blog buddies a girl could ask for.  I hope that each one of you has somebody that you can lean on!


  1. I love this post! I was a sub for awhile and I usually had plans but I did have the occasional scramble day where a teacher would help. I can't believe some teachers wouldn't leave any! I do feel undervalued sometimes because we are teachers and CAN do those things but now being a classroom teacher I understand the other side as well and since I'm new I don't know my subs but I at least would be prepared!


  2. I am a sub and I have had days with no lesson plans (only when the teacher is deathly sick!) and days with lesson plans that are so detailed I feel like I should just read them to the students! I like the plans that give the sub some time to just talk with the students so that they see you as a person not "just another sub". It is harder to follow some lesson plans when you get to the high school classes but the students will help you out if needed. I love subbing and when I see those complaints from teachers I want to tell them; we are not you and will teach differently but we will teach your students, that is why we do what we love. Great blog subject. Thank you

  3. I've been teaching for 20 years, but I remember my subbing days and they were SO much harder! I was stressed about finding the school, then finding the classroom, then understanding the plans left, then the kids were ready to pounce, had to work through breaks to keep up, then stay after marking everything! All the respect in the world for you.
    As far as planning, I leave everything organized so there's no hunting or wondering. Then in the note I say "...and if any of the stuff I left is a big pain in the butt, feel free to do anything you want!" lol...I really don't mind what gets done as long as everyone has a nice day.
    Hugs to you!
    Whimsy Workshop Teaching

  4. Well said! Thanks for giving a shout to all us subs who can and want to teach and not busy work to waste the day. Thanks. :)

  5. I am new to subbing - and I am dreading the day I walk in to no lesson plans. But I have taken your advice and I am prepared with my own bag of lessons and stuff (mostly from your TPT store) to hopefully get me through the day. Thanks so much !

  6. I will be subbing for the very first time tomorrow in a full day kinder class. I'm pretty excited, but even more nervous that it will be one of those "no lesson plans" type of sub gig. I've gone through my kids book shelf and tossed in some of my favorite go-to stories, made a list of some finger plays that I remember, and am searching for some extra activities just in case. (If I have them, I won't need them, but I'd hate the alternative!)

    Thanks for your blog, I'm already gleaning some good ideas!

  7. I LOVE this post! As a substitute I want to teach, not just baby sit! Most of my teachers will leave plans, but sometimes they are way too detailed; will not work in the time frame; way too confusing or is something you just know will allow the students to get WAY too distracted! I love when teacher's don't leave any work as I always take work with me, but of course this usually happens when I don't bring in much. Subs actually do do a lot of planning and it's a thankless job so thanks for giving us all a shout out!



Thanks for leaving me happy notes!

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