Prepping for a Substitute Teacher in Upper Elementary

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Prepping for a Substitute Teacher

Stepping into the shoes of a regular classroom teacher can be quite challenging for a substitute, especially without proper guidance and resources. For educators in upper elementary, ensuring that the substitute teacher can maintain a productive and orderly classroom in their absence is paramount. 

This involves careful planning and preparation. A well-organized substitute binder and pre-planned activities can help ensure a successful day for both the substitute teacher and the students.

Prepping for a Substitute Teacher in Upper Elementary

Prepping for a Substitute Teacher with the Indispensable Sub Binder

  1. Basic Information: Include a brief overview of your class, noting any pertinent details about students, schedules, and routines. A classroom and school map can also be beneficial for navigation and familiarization.
  2. Class List and Seating Chart: Provide a current class list and seating chart, ensuring the substitute can easily manage attendance and learn student names.
  3. Important Contacts: List crucial contacts like the school office, neighboring teachers, and specialists who can assist the substitute in an emergency or need.
  4. Behavior Management: Outline your classroom management and discipline plan, spotlighting any specific challenges and offering strategies that work with particular students.
  5. Medical Information: Include a section on students’ allergies, medications, or any specific medical needs, ensuring the substitute is prepared to handle any health-related scenarios.
  6. Daily Schedule and Procedures: Detail the day-to-day schedule, including break times, lunch, specials, and any routines that are part of the regular school day.
  7. Lesson Plans: Even though a substitute might bring their own lesson plan, providing a comprehensive lesson plan for the day(s) you’ll be away is essential.
  8. Emergency Procedures: Clearly outline the evacuation routes and explain the procedures for lockdowns and other emergencies.

Prepping for a Substitute Teacher with Engaging Activities

I love having all my lessons planned out so my students don’t miss a beat. I usually do a thematic day of activities so my students can stay engaged in learning and have fun. Over the years I have created an extensive collection of activities and tools to help me when I need a substitute.

I have created a variety of Themed Sub Plans. Some of my favorite themed Sub Tubs are: Space Theme, Camp Theme and Board Games Themed. Each of these bundles include: Reading, Writing, Poetry, Math, Extension Activities, and Forms to use when you need a guest teacher in your class.

You can shop all my sets here!


Here are some other ideas that you should include in your sub plans. Most of these activities are included in my themed lessons.

  1. Reading Comprehension Passages: This is a wonderful opportunity for students to read comprehension passages with questions. Using a variety of genres is also a bonus! Let’s not forget to integrate science and other subjects so students can learn and cover multiple subjects.
  2. Grammar Activities: This is a great opportunity for students to review any grammar skills such as idioms, adjectives, sentence writing.
  3. Poetry Writing: Have students write poetry, read Mentor Poetry Texts and Poetry Analysis
  4. Math Lessons: Color By Code, Math Review Word Problems
  5. Read-Alouds and Independent Reading: Leave a selection of books, along with prompts and questions for discussions or reflective writing, that are appropriate to the grade level.
  6. Writing Prompts: Supply a set of writing prompts, offering choices that cater to the diverse interests of students, sparking their creativity and keeping them engaged.
  7. Worksheets and Puzzle Challenges: Provide worksheets that reinforce recently taught material, or include educational puzzles like crosswords, word searches, or math puzzles to challenge students in an enjoyable way..
  8. Feedback Form: Insert a simple feedback form for the substitute to fill out, providing insights into how the day went, what was accomplished, and any issues that may have arisen.

Here is a sample of the inside of my sub plans

The goal is to create an environment where learning continues seamlessly, even in your absence. Providing a comprehensive sub binder and a range of engaging pre-planned activities ensures that the substitute teacher is well-equipped to foster a positive and productive learning environment. This preparation supports the substitute teacher and ensures consistency and continuity for your students, thereby maintaining the rhythm of learning and development.


Prepping for a Substitute Teacher in Upper Elementary


Prepping for a Substitute Teacher in Upper Elementary

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