Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Set Your Sub up for Success: Tips and Tricks for Classroom Teachers

I've given plenty of tips to substitutes themselves but I think there are several things that teachers can do to set their substitutes up for success as well.  So here's what I like to see from teachers when I am subbing:

1.  Seating Charts.  I really appreciate when teachers leave a seating chart.  A lot of the online software now allows you to create these with pictures too which is useful.  This helps me identify students and usually, because you know what you're doing, helps the class be set up to be successful.

2. Detailed plans.  Please leave detailed plans.  If they are working on something from the day before please tell me exactly what the directions were, when it's due etc.  Also leave early finisher work!

3. Assignments that must be turned in.  I can't stress this enough.  Please have something that MUST be turned in and then make sure to give them credit for it.  When students feel like they can turn it in later the class period turns into a free for all and it's much harder to control them.

4.  Too much work to finish.  This goes along with the first part.  Give so much work there will be NO DOWN TIME.  Then I can collect what is finished and tell them to do the rest at home or I can collect it all and tell them I'll mark down who used their time wisely and who didn't. I also have ready to print English themed crossword puzzles that can be left as early finisher activities. You can grab a free Edgar Allen Poe puzzle here! 

5.  Codes necessary to access technology.  Depending on your school this is more or less necessary but if the subs at your school do not get their own access codes please make sure that you leave one.  Honestly, this is important even if you do not plan on the sub using technology.  If I need to kill time or something happens where your assignment doesn't work I can usually come up with a quick fix but it typically uses the computer.

6.  Information.  Is someone allowed to have a specific device? Wear a hat? Take a break if stressed?  Knowing what those accommodations are help alleviate awkward situations.  Who can I ask for help? Students? Staff?  Are there any tricks to dealing with certain students?  A little information goes a long way.

7.  High expectations.  Consequences.  Leave your students with high expectations and follow through on consequences.  Especially early in the year make an example of students who are given a bad report from the sub.  Send them to the office, give a detention, or whatever your system is.  Once students realize that you take subs seriously they typically do too!  It'd be awesome if you can reward them if they're good too!

I've created a Sub Binder with these tips in mind.  You can find it in my store HERE.

Edited to add: I've linked up with Secondary Smorgasbord!
Check out the posts below about having a sub in your class

Check out the products below to help subs in your classes be successful!

What would you add?

Thanks for reading!


  1. These are great suggestions for how to take good care of our subs. Thanks!

  2. Those 7 tips are all crucial for having a good day! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Great tips. Number 3 is really important so students understand that the work left for the sub is not busy work, but an integral element of their learning.

  4. I love that your post is from the aspect of a sub. Those pictured seating charts became a game changer when they came around a few years back.

  5. Leaving codes necessary to access technology is so important. I deliver PD in multiple NJ school districts, and I can’t tell you how many times teachers have had to log me in under their accounts because access codes were not readily available!