Planning For Student Success When You Have a Substitute

2:00am my daughter has a fever. Between doses of tylenol and resupplying her with a cool, wet cloth for her forehead I walk downstairs in the dark trying not trip on a stair or stumble over a toy. I find my computer, report my absence and then open a google doc to start writing my lesson plans for my absence. An hour later the plans are written and I hope that things will go smoothly. I hope that my students will behave. I hope that it will be successful day while I am gone. No matter what the scenario, whether it is a sick kid, a sick us, an unexpected absence, a meeting to attend or a conference to go to teachers have to write lesson plans for their absences.

I have shared here before that I have a very challenging group of students this year. As a result of them and their specific needs as a group, I have changed my thinking significantly about days when subs are in my classroom. I knew that I could no longer write sub plans the day before or send sub plans in on the day of if one of my daughters or I were sick. I needed a better plan, a more thoughtful plan, a more structured plan. I needed sub plans that would empower my teaching assistant and my sub while I am not there and ensure that my students would have every opportunity to be successful.

So I started to write my sub plans. I started by selecting activities and work that included skills that I knew my students could successfully, be independent at and would still reinforce the academic skill I am working with them on this year. The difference this time, was these sub plans were going to be the sub plans for the entire school year. These sub plans would stay the same no matter when I am gone. These sub plans would never be altered and never be changed.Quotes

I started by creating a google doc. This doc can be shared with anyone working with my students (including a sub). Within the doc would be clickable links to the period’s To Do List, that period’s resources and lesson plans for that period.*

With the sub plans written (and I’ll admit they took me a very long time to write…but it was absolutely and totally worth it) there was one more thing I needed to do. Unlike years before when I would just be absent, my students would not never know what to expect. I decided that not only would I empower them to be their best and successful while I am gone by making the lesson plans structured and predictable, I decided that would also do a practice run of of my sub day lesson plans. We would actually practice the plan by planning for the unexpected.

We practice for evacuation drills all the time. Why not also plan and practice with our students for our absences.



*Note I did add a whole group incentive in my plans. I wanted my students to be motivated to do their best, work as a team and be successful while I am out. That is something you may or may not decided to include.

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