5 Things to Put in Your Substitute Folder

On your desk, there should be an Emergency Substitute Folder, in case the worst should ever happen, and you are unexpectedly not able to get to school on a day in the future.

In that folder, should be several items. Here’s 5 to get the ball rolling:

1) An Emergency Lesson Plan with Worksheets

Being sick is no fun. Being sick, having to quickly put together a lesson plan at home, and then send it to work quickly is less fun.

And that’s assuming that the emergency that has pulled you away from work has left you in a state that you are able to write lesson plans. We all know that bad things can and do happen.

Do your school, your sub, your class, and yourself a favor, have an emergency lesson plan in your Sub Folder that is easy to implement, and includes all the necessary worksheets and materials.

2) Instructions for how to get a hold of the front office and a neighboring teacher if they need assistance

You should leave your sub some vital information for their day in your class. At the top of that list, should be instructions on how to get a hold of the office and a nearby teacher who can help them in the event of an emergency or if they have any questions about the day.

3) Schedule and Duties

Leave the schedule on its own sheet of paper, in big letters. Make sure you include planning period, lunch, any special classes your students will be going to, and list any other responsibilities (like dismissal duty, or how to drop off an pick the class up from lunch).

4) A Roster

There are a number of reasons why your sub will need a roster. Here’s four:

First, to take roll in case they cannot access the online platform that your school takes attendance on. Or if the office is delayed in getting the roster to them.

Second, in the event of a fire alarm, code red, or other emergency.

Third, if the internet goes down.

Fourth, so they can leave notes to the teacher about a student’s performance that day.

5) “A Note from the Sub” Worksheet

Leave a worksheet for your substitute teacher that has them fill out some information about how the day went. For example:

Sub Name: __________________

What lesson did we cover: ______________

The following students were helpful: ______________

The following students were an issue: ______________


Try to keep it short, especially if you have multiple classes that they must cover. But ask some essential questions.



  • Throughout the year, prep your students for the day that a substitute covers you. Make sure behavioral expectations are clearly explained and understood. And review this with your students often.


  • Have a bin that the substitute can put all papers in. This bin should also have alligator clips in it so that they can secure all papers together for each period.


  • Use a brightly colored folder and put in an easy-to-find location (ideally, right ON your desk). Then, make sure that location is known to your neighboring teacher and administrators.


  • Don’t forget to give the sub instructions to any devices they will be using in your room. For example, I always photocopied the remote control and then highlighted the buttons that they would need to use to operate it.


  • I make all work due at the end of the period (day), and tell the sub to communicate this with the students. Too often I see students not doing work because they know they can finish it for homework, and then they make life difficult on the sub. This also avoids the issue of the students claiming that they gave it to the sub and he lost it, when in fact they took it home.

Being a substitute teacher can be a difficult task, and having a substitute teacher in your class can often result in an unproductive day. But there are several things that you, as the teacher, can do to set you, the sub, and your students up for success.

5 MORE Things To Put In Your Sub Folder

You can get 5 more things to put in your Sub Folder by clicking below.


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