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Substitute Planning for High-Level Stress Relief


Substitute planning consists of three stages.

  • Preparing Usable Lesson Plans
  • Preparing Usable Packages of Learning Activities
  • Preparing the students in the class to help the substitute

When teachers know that they are going to be away for an in-service program or training assignment, they work late into the evening to prepare materials and activities for the substitute to use.

However, if they become ill overnight, and they didn’t leave lesson plans and materials set up the night before, they end up working in the morning and sending the plans in with a friend, colleague or spouse who acts as a courier. Under the worst possible circumstances they drive the plans in to school themselves, probably guaranteeing a relapse of any illness that they have, and possibly forcing them to return to work earlier than is reasonable because there are no plans.

And, these last minute activity lists generally are useless, the substitutes are sometimes less than polished teachers, and the students’ output for the day is often thrown away since is is unusable.

Why fall into such a trap? Preparing for the days that a substitute will take charge of your classroom is the most efficient way to protect your health.

Planning for the substitute requires the same attention to detail that planning for the school year requires.

The more that you identify connected themes of information, the more that you train students in engaging learning procedures, and the more that you develop reusable modules...the easier that building substitute packets will be.

Here are some hints:

  • Purchase one (or more)of the commercial products, and use sticky notes on it until you build your automated system
    • These can be purchased for about $2US.
    • Companies that produce these folders are:
      • Carson-Dellosa
      • Instructional Fair, Inc.
      • McGraw Hill Children’s Publishing
  • Obtain some binders and add the same information on sheets that you create yourself
    • Trim the folders and place them inside sheet protectors. In this way, the sticky notes will stay in place
    • Later, create computer printouts to replace the temporary system
  • Plan ahead about how you will keep the plans up to date