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How to Prepare Your Students for a Substitute Teacher

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Whether you are planning to be gone or you wake up feeling under the weather, leaving your classroom under someone else’s control can be a fate worse than just showing up to school sick. Preparing your lessons and classroom for a substitute teacher can be exhausting.

Returning to the classroom with sub notes, work to grade, and possible behaviors to deal with adds extra work to the time you've already missed from your classroom. Fortunately, you can avoid some of the chaos that comes from being absent by preparing your students for a sub before you even know you will be gone.

Returning to the classroom with sub notes, work to grade, and possible behaviors to deal with adds extra work to the time you’ve already missed from your classroom. Fortunately, you can avoid some of the chaos that comes from being absent by preparing your students for a sub before you even know you will be gone. Here are some tips to help your students transition from classroom teacher to substitute teacher without a hitch.

Set high expectations of respect from day one

Tell your students on the first day of school, that in this classroom the one main rule is respect. That means to respect yourself and others, including your classmates, teachers, staff members, administration, and especially substitute teachers.

Make it a point to talk about how many subs may be strict because they do not necessarily know them as individual students. However, if they follow behavior expectations you set forth, the sub will be able to make class just as fun as you have and will.

Set a routine that all students know

When a substitute comes into our classroom, I try to keep the same routine and classroom expectations. If we do reading centers in the morning, the substitute will do reading centers in the morning. If we do a science lesson in the afternoon, the substitute will do a science lesson.

I do change my expectations on the quality and amount of work I expect students to complete; however students will move through the day the same way they would if I were there. For instance, if we do reading centers, students may have an independent task at the teacher center so the substitute can wander around the room and help keep other students on task. If we’re doing a science lesson, I’ll make sure it’s an easy lesson for both students and the substitute.

Give your students jobs

Have students in charge of small tasks like taking attendance, passing out papers, collecting assignments, or taking lunch count. These may be tasks that you normally do yourself, but by allowing the students to help with the flow of the day, you’re giving them ownership and responsibility to keep the classroom running while you’re gone. Leave a note for the sub letting them know who these students are, but let your kids know that anyone could be chosen to be a helper at anytime when you are gone.

Have a teacher contact

Let your students and the sub know that if you are absent and problems arise, they can check in with another teacher in a closeby classroom. For students that struggle with authority and behavior, this person may be a good check-in point for them at the start of the day. You may let that teacher know to check-in with that student to let them know you will be gone, but you know they are going to have a great day. A teacher contact is also great for a sub in case behavior, lesson, or technology issues arise.

Preparing your students for a sub doesn’t have to be a task that makes you want to go to school when you have the flu or skip a family event. Letting your students know the expectations early on, giving them responsibility in the classroom, and enlisting the help of other teachers will make your classroom run smoothly while you’re gone. Your students will be happy you’re back and so will you!

More Ideas to help your classroom run smoothly with a sub

Do you need some help organizing your sub plans? Check out this post all about putting things in the right place for a smooth time with a substitute!

How to Prepare Your Students for a Substitute Teacher

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