Substitute Folders

A Comprehensive Guide to Creating a Teacher Packet

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A substitute folder is an essential resource that all teachers should have prepared and clearly labeled on their desks in the event of an unexpected absence. It provides a substitute with a general plan for teaching your students on any given day and already contains all necessary materials so that all they have to do is execute your plans. On top of that, it should tell a sub everything they might need to know about your class and school. Read to find out what to include in your substitute folder.

What to Include in Your Substitute Folder

The contents of a substitute folder vary by teacher but the most useful ones include the following general items.

Class List and Seating Chart

Provide a class list for your substitute and place a star next to any students that you know they can go to for help. In addition, leave a copy of the class seating chart clearly labeled with names and any important information about each child. Attach any food allergies and pertinent medical information to these.

Rules and Routines

Include a copy of your daily routine and class schedule. Give the substitute information about attendance, your methods for collecting student work, restroom policies, consequences of misbehavior, dismissal routines, and so on. Include important schoolwide policies such as tardy procedures and lunch/playground rules as well.

Emergency Procedures and Drills

Include a copy of any and all school emergency procedures—don't assume that something won't come up. Highlight exit routes and doors so that a substitute can easily navigate your students to safety in the event of an emergency.

Behavioral Management Strategies and Plans

Provide any classroom or individual behavior plans that a substitute would need to be successful. Most teachers request a note from their substitutes about student misbehavior so that it can be properly addressed when they return. Giving substitutes strategies for getting your students' attention and managing conflict can also be helpful.

Generic Lesson Plans

Plan at least a week's worth of emergency lessons in case you are not able to write new lesson plans for a substitute ahead of time. These are usually generic and allow students to practice skills without requiring a sub to deliver a full lesson. Include plenty of copies of spare worksheets and review exercises as well as quick activities to do if these are finished early.

Note Template

Many teachers request that substitutes leave them with a note about their day. To make this simpler for your subs, you can create a template that includes all items you want to be covered such as the names of absent students, conflicts that arose, and any comments about whether the day went according to plan.

How to Organize Your Substitute Folder

Use a binder with dividers and clearly-labeled sections for every day of the week. You should include lesson plans, procedures, and any materials necessary for each day. In the front and back pocket of the binder, include organizational tools such as office passes, lunch tickets, and attendance cards.

To keep materials that won't fit in the binder all in one place, try making a "sub tub" that functions as a catch-all for items a substitute might need. These can include anything from coloring utensils to adhesive bandages.

Always leave your substitute materials out in the open so that they are easy to find without your help. You never know when you won't be able to make it to school on short notice.