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How to Set Up an Emergency Substitute System

Something that always brought me stress and guilt were unplanned absences. Let me begin by saying that we should NOT feel guilty about taking a sick day (or a day for whatever reason), but the nature of the teaching profession makes it difficult when emergencies come up.

Once I implemented the steps in this post, I felt a sense of relief. Some years I didn’t have to use emergency sub plans, but they were there when I needed them.

Now, you won’t be able to add ALL of the information in this post to your Sub Tub over the summer, since you most likely don’t have your class roster and schedule yet, but getting everything else set up will save you SO much time once the school year starts.

Ready to start setting it up? Let’s go!

Find a container

First, grab a plastic tub, bin, crate or binder to create a “Sub Tub” or “Sub Binder” . I prefer a tub or crate for self contained classrooms because I use hanging file folders to organize the materials per subject.

Add Substitute Documents

Next, add the following documents to the front/top of your container:

Class Roster

Daily Schedule

Helpful Teachers

Emergency Procedures

How Students Go Home

Add Lesson Plans

Then, create basic lesson plans for the subjects you teach. Make sure these plans are general and can be used at any time of the year. The assignments should be based on topics students have already been taught and can complete with minimal instruction.

Remember, this is for an EMERGENCY absence, not a planned one where you can take your time and create more detailed plans. 

If you teach third grade, you are in luck because I have done the work for you! Check out my collection of seasonal Emergency Substitute Plans Packet Here! They have everything you need for your Emergency Sub Tub/Crate/Box/Binder/Etc. And the best part is that it’s all available in Spanish and English for your bilingual or dual language third grade classroom.

Add Materials

Finally, add materials for your lesson plans. Include books for read alouds, copies of worksheets, manipulatives and anything else your substitute will need to follow the lesson plans. This is why I like to use a tub or crate. It keeps everything in one place so the substitute does not have to search around the classroom for materials. Be sure to make MORE copies than you need.

Now, if you already know the grade you are teaching next year, you can go ahead and complete all of these steps. If you are not sure, then just get your container ready and a couple of read alouds that can apply to multiple grades. I like, La Señorita Nelson Ha Desaparecido for this purpose. 

Then, as soon as your grade level is confirmed, continue with the next steps. This is one system you do NOT want to put off! An emergency absence can happen as soon as the first few days of school. You do not want to get caught unprepared. Take this summer to give yourself some peace of mind when it comes to those unexpected absences. 

Don’t forget to check out my collection of seasonal Emergency Substitute Plans Packet Here to save even MORE time.

I hope this Teacher Time Savers Summer Series has been helpful. Taking a few days this summer to complete even just ONE of the ideas I shared with you will save you HOURS over the next school year. If you haven’t read the previous 2 posts in this series, check them out here: Creating an Effective Data Collection System and Leveraging Parent Volunteers

Listen, I love redoing my classroom décor over the summer as much as the next teacher, but having a Pinterest perfect classroom isn’t going to help me much if I have an unexpected absence, short notice conference, or a parent asking if they can come help out in my classroom the next day. Give yourself the gift of peace of mind by working on things over the summer that will actually make a difference.

I’d love to know, which one was your favorite? What would you add to this list? 

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