I will never forget the first time, I realized that I needed a substitute binder. I was chosen to attend a technology conference and would be out of the classroom for three consecutive days. Prior to this, my need for a substitute was limited to sick days or the occasional personal day. In that case, my notebook paper and sticky note method worked perfectly. 🙂 But for three days, three different preps, six classes, duty, and various bell schedules, I needed something a little more reliable than a sticky note.
Getting organized for a substitue teacher
1. create a substitute binder
Initially, a binder seems like so much work. And it does take time. However, the benefit to taking the time upfront is that you will thank yourself every single time you use it thereafter, like when you end up being sick or find out your child needs you. Make a nice neat cover and dedicate a binder to your substitute. I would also recommend page protectors. You never really know how the binder will be treated or where it may end up, aka the front office. So, I would suggest putting each page in a page protector to ensure that it lasts all year.
2. Include school information
Some schools give substitute teachers a folder with information, some don’t. I always liked to be sure to include a page with my specific bell schedule, my conference period, any duty, and which prep was each period. This makes it a bit easier to keep track and ensure that each class is working on the appropriate assignment. Less confusion = less problems. I also liked to share the phone extensions of appropriate people aka the AP, nurse, front office, team leader, or department head. Anyone they might need to call with a question or in the event of a discipline issue.
3. Include student information
I liked assigning a student helper (or at least requesting one) while I was gone. This helps the substitute teacher and minimizes the need for everyone to volunteer to do one small task in which you get to leave the classroom. Amiright? It is also handy to share any specific details and directions. For example, students who can’t work together, a reminder about video announcements that need to be shown in third period, or if a certain assignment needs to be collected.
4. create accountability
In a perfect world, every student would be on their best behavior for your guest teacher. They would act better than they do for you and they would be on task for the entire class period. Take me to that world, please! In the event you don’t live in that perfect world, I would encourage you to find some type of reward that your students have bought into. This could be as simple as a challenge between the classes, a treat, a fun game they can play when you return, listing to music on a Friday, etc. I personally loved using math computer games as my reward. I asked substitute teachers to rate each class from 1-10, and classes with a 10 would earn the reward. It wont fix every behavior issue, but it will sway those students who need a little extra push.
All of the above mentioned things are included in my Editable Substitute Binder for Secondary Teachers. It is simple in design, easy to use, and most importantly ready to go. I also included additional binder covers, classroom procedures, emergency procedures, seating charts, a lesson plan template, and a printable hall pass. Does anyone have any great reward ideas? How do you stay organized and prep for a substitute teacher?