Summer Substitute Series: Preparing Your Classroom

We’re here for the next installment of our substitute series – Preparing Your Classroom

When you walk into your classroom – or school for that matter, you know where everything is. Finding the break room, restrooms, or paperclips is not a challenge for you. For a substitute knowing where they can find things is important to help keep their day running smoothly. With that in mind, we know that it is impossible to would take forever to write everything down. Here are some of the essentials.

1. Map of the School
When a substitute is new to your building, they can spend 15 of their 20 minute break searching for a restroom. Leave a map of your school with some highlighted areas. The important places to highlight are

  • Specials – either highlight the specific class for the day, or label “music”, “art”, the map can be used any day of the week
  • Mail – if you don’t want your substitute to check your mail, you might want to have a friend/teammate check the mail for you in case there is important information that needs to go home that day
  • Restrooms – if you have multiple restrooms in the building, highlight those that are most convenient for your substitute
  • Break Room – many substitutes like to eat in your classroom, but sometimes they may need a caffeine fix or need to speak with another teacher
  • End of the Day Exit – mark which door your students exit through at the end of the day – this will help keep the students in check as they leave the classroom

2. Emergency Information 
It is usually required to have the emergency exits posted somewhere in your classroom. Make sure you leave specific instructions for each type of emergency. You also want to note if a special bag or class list needs to be taken with you during an emergency.
Usually the office will give a substitute a heads up about a drill, but in the case of a real emergency, substitutes need to be prepared for anything.

3. Around Your Room
There are lots of different ways to approach assisting your substitute in your room. Many teachers simply rely on a student or two to share information with a teacher. However, if this is your strategy, what happens when those students are absent?

If you have the time, the most efficient way to make sure your substitute can find things around the classroom is to take pictures. For instance, for math stations, your students may work around the room in designated in areas. Snap a shot of each area and label which students should be in which area.

It also helps if your classroom is labeled. In the beginning, you will spend a lot of time (that probably won’t seem worth it) trying to organize and label the things around your room. But, once everything is in the proper place and labeled, not only will your substitute (or students) be able to find things in your absence, but you will also stay more organized.

4. Classroom Rules/Discipline Plan
Each teacher has their own rules. Some let kids sharpen pencils, some don’t let their students get a tissue without permission. Spending so much time in different rooms, substitutes can easily give your students more leniency or be scoffed at for being too harsh. Or if substitutes don’t know your rules, they may make up their own rules. It is best to leave a list of what your students may and may not do, as well as the steps you take to discipline them.

These are just a few of the essential items you need to leave for your substitute. We can write about this topic for a looooong time, but this post is long enough already. We hope this gets you thinking about what is important to leave for your substitute. Later on in the series, we will talk about preparing a resource with all this information and more. You’ll find that you can spend a little time now to create a great resource that can be left for any substitute.

How in depth are your notes for a substitute? Do you only leave lesson plans or do you leave more extensive directions for your subs?


Posted on June 17, 2013, in Organization, Substitutes. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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