As a teacher, you will inevitably get sick, need a long weekend away, or just need a “mental health day”. In those cases, you will need to make sure your classroom is prepared for anyone to come in and run the show with little disruption to the kids and to your set-up. Here are a few areas I have found (as a regular classroom teacher and a substitute!) that need to be covered when preparing for a sub.
This is a no brainer. If you are going to be out of the classroom for any amount of time, you should provide plans for the sub. It is safe to assume that the substitute taking over your class may not be trained as a certified teacher. That does not mean they are an idiot either. In either case, it can be difficult to walk into a classroom and try to run it as it normally functions for a day. So, the more detail you can put into your plans, the smoother the day will go for the sub and your students. Remember, it is always nice to return to hear that your children were perfect for the sub. Make sure you set them up for success!
Even if a daily class schedule is posted in the classroom, a typed detailed version should be provided. This becomes most beneficial for when the sub has to take the students outside of the classroom. The schedule can be taken with them for easy accessibility. That way they will know, for example, what time to leave recess and what time to arrive at the next destination.
There are several reasons why a class list should always be on hand. First and foremost, a class list is crucial in the event of an emergency. For someone who is not familiar with a group of students, a class list can determine if anyone is missing. Class lists are also helpful when keeping track of who is absent, tardy, and who has left early. Lastly, individual names are so unique these days. I personally feel that it is helpful to be able to see the actual spelling of a name. This helps me remember the pronunciation-although the kids never fail to mention when I get something wrong!
This is an area that is often overlooked, but it can provide a helpful service to a visiting teacher. A seating chart can assist in learning student names, calling on students when they have a question or comment, passing out papers, and pinpointing students that may require extra or special assistance. It also helps the teacher identify which students, if any, had difficulty during teaching time (you know how much you want to know about those ones!).
Fire Drill Procedures
Each school should have a fire drill procedure in place. It is important to leave detailed information so that the children can be lead out of the building in the case of a real emergency. Make sure that if your school hasn’t practiced a fire drill, that your students still know what to do in an emergency. This is not only helpful for a substitute, but for you as well. Oh, and don’t forget to include that class list so they can take attendance when they get out!
If you have a child with any kind of allergy, it is imperative that you leave detailed information on that child. A person coming into your classroom needs to know to be on alert for potential dangers, if monitoring a child is necessary, and what to do if a reaction occurs.
This is often another area that is overlooked. Make sure your sub knows where kids are going and at what time they are receiving services. It can be confusing to someone new when students are getting up and walking out of the room or being taken from the room by another teacher. In some cases, mainly because it is just habit, this is done without a word to the substitute teacher.