Substitutes and Lesson Plans

To all teaching professionals, at one time or another you will be absent. Here are some tips that will help your colleagues and your students to make the transition as smooth as possible. There are many steps that you, a good teacher, can take to help the person that will be your substitute. The most important is a good lesson plan with plenty of details.

Even though a classroom teacher will not be in his or her classroom it doesn’t mean that learning has to stop. Think of your substitute teacher as your assistant not a threat. And when you find that great substitute teacher that has followed your plans, request that individual again. It will make your life easier.

Now what does a good lesson plan consist of? Well for the most part it should be connected to what students are learning. It does not have to be new material. It can be a few simple worksheets or activities to reinforce what the students are learning. That way the students don’t feel like the lesson is out from left field.

Nothing annoys a substitute teacher more then coming into a situation where students have to be given busy work. Kids are smarter than that! You may get away with it in elementary school, but middle and high school students won’t go for it.

The next tip is try to keep instructions for your sub simple. Why? Many times subs are sent into rooms at the last minute and these persons may not have time to decipher plans. It is better for a substitute teacher if your instructions are in a simple outline form, step by step and typewritten if possible. Therefore a substitute teacher can easily glance at each step and continue in a smooth manner.

Another important point is to try to keep the class schedule as close to yours as possible. Students like continuity and familiarity. By being consistent with your lesson plans your students will be able to assist your substitute teacher. As a result it will help in the smooth running of your class.

It will also help a substitute if you leave a seating chart with your plans. It does not always work, but it sometimes helps the teacher to know who is who especially in an emergency. The seating chart may not always work with older groups, but more often then not it will be helpful.

If you know of fire drills or any other out of the ordinary change that will be occurring please inform your sub. He or she will be forever grateful. Being thrown into a difficult situation can be chaotic and dangerous for your substitute and your students.

What about technology? Please make sure that you have made contingency plans for your substitute to have access to the technology that she will need. Very often a teacher will leave plans for a substitute teacher without taking into consideration that substitutes are very often kept out of the loop. Please make arrangements with the technology specialist or another teacher to provide access where needed. Your subs will forever thank you.

As you can see there are many things that should be prepared ahead of time so that your class will function effectively while you are gone. Make sure that textbooks and other needed materials are on hand so that your sub does not have to hunt for them. Many times teachers leave plans, but do not let substitutes know where to find materials. Remember the more your sub has to search the greater danger that the class will be left unattended. For a substitute this is a death knell.

Lastly, make sure you have enough for your students to do. Unproductive time is dangerous time. Too much can happen in the classroom especially with a stranger not to make your plans effective and clear. Finally, make sure you have a backup plan. You never know what can happen. Leave plans with another person. Students have been known to filch papers from teachers desk because they don’t want to work that day. Make sure your plans are in a safe place and prepare your students if you can. Have consequences ready if they do not cooperate.

As you can see a lesson plan has to include more than work. You can not afford to waste time when you are out. The school year has enough disruption without undue delays. Following these tips will help both you and your students to be on track when you come back to school.