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Maybe you’re a specialist or have something specific in mind when teaching your students.

Either way, passing their education to another teacher can be a challenge. But we’re humans, just like everyone else – and sometimes we need a little time off. Whether it’s medical reasons, vacation, or anything else, creating plans for a substitute teacher is a must at some point. But how can you make the process go smoothly and ensure your students stay on the right track? A lot of that is down to how you plan.

It’s important to keep the following in mind to ensure your plans are not only suitable but easy to follow:

  • Don’t expect your substitute to have the same specialist knowledge you do – opt for more relaxed lessons over more complex ones for the best results
  • Create a plan that’s relatively straightforward and requires less teacher input to be successful
  • Choose collaborative student work over direct teaching, with creative projects often offering the best middle ground for substitute teachers

We always want what’s best for our students – but as YouTubers and teacher Michele Rose points out, substitutes are unlikely to have the exact experience and understanding you do. The best thing you can do as a teacher is to provide the tools and information they need but not expect perfection when matching your teaching style. So what can we expect from substitutes, and how can we put plans in place so they succeed? Here’s a little information to get you started:

Education resources

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Cells and Microbes Science Exit Tickets or Science Writing Prompts

Cells and Microbes Science Exit Tickets or Science Writing Prompts

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Energy from the Sun - Earth & Space Science - ACTIVITIES + ANSWER KEY

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Guided Notes for Science Fusion Unit 8, Lesson 4 Waves and Energy PowerPoint

Guided Notes for Science Fusion Unit 8, Lesson 4 Waves and Energy PowerPoint

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Black American History Crash Course Questions Episodes 16-20 with Answer Key

Black American History Crash Course Questions Episodes 16-20 with Answer Key

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EDITABLE - Boho Rainbow Theme - Meet the Teacher Open House Flip Book

EDITABLE - Boho Rainbow Theme - Meet the Teacher Open House Flip Book

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Alphabet Writing and Tracing Activity: Recognition & Formation - Letter Z

Alphabet Writing and Tracing Activity: Recognition & Formation - Letter Z

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens 14 Week Secondary Unit: All Daily Lesson Plans Aligned With CCS Grades 9-12

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens 14 Week Secondary Unit: All Daily Lesson Plans Aligned With CCS Grades 9-12

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Geography, Africa Task Cards

Geography, Africa Task Cards

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Spring Color by Letter Recognition Practice Worksheets Editable Coloring Pages

Spring Color by Letter Recognition Practice Worksheets Editable Coloring Pages

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Provide insight into what you want

Whether or not you’ve acted as a substitute teacher before, you know their job is quite different from what you do as a permanent teacher. Instead of being experts at one subject, substitutes are required to be good at a wide range of topics and subjects. Not to mention, they often get very little time and support to learn new material ahead of time in the same way we do.

By providing clear information about what you need and how your class needs it, they can perform far better than simply leaving it up to the students or even working from a textbook if you can provide the materials and guidance for students too. Work with your substitute, and the whole process will be more unified.

Don’t expect as much as you would from yourself

Following on from the above point, it can be easy to think that substitutes do far less than standard teachers when providing education. But consider what it’s like doing your first day with your students repeatedly. Kids will likely push boundaries, be less obedient, and be willing to work with a substitute. Your plan should reflect this and should focus on occupying the students and engaging them over serious teacher-to-student learning. This way, your students still get educated, but there isn’t the pressure to provide the same level of detail you might be able to.

Know that things don’t always work out

In standard lesson planning, your day doesn’t always work out how you want it. The same is true for substitutes, so providing a plan with flexibility or even several options can help to mitigate this issue. Maybe your class is having trouble concentrating on a particular subject. Instead of pushing it, a substitute may be better placed asking the class to collaborate or engage in educational play. Providing this information in black and white allows substitutes to perform best and meet the needs of your students far more effectively.

How do you plan for substitute teachers? Perhaps you are a sub and want to let us know what teachers can do to help make working in their classroom easier.