Why you Should Make a Sub Plan and Emergency Binder

I have been teaching for 8 years now. If you read my bio, you also know that I am a military spouse. Being a military spouse is hard on so many levels, but when it comes to your career it is extremely difficult to have to pick up and start your career over every time your significant other gets orders. I may do a blog just on that topic in the future, but this blog post is about sub plans. I must tell you that I was never a substitute teacher before I was given my own classroom (that would have actually been very helpful), but I ended up needing to sub for two periods of time between military moves and permanent teaching positions.

Being a sub after I was a teacher and having to make sub plans was an eye-opening experience and one I greatly appreciated learning from. My sub plans used to be soooooooooo incredibly long and detailed, I feel so bad for expecting anybody to read and follow that mess. As a sub, there were things I knew that I should know about the classroom or school that were never mentioned and made things difficult. Important things, like where the teacher bathroom is and what exactly are the procedures during emergency drills? I think I have only subbed for a combined 4 months, but in that time I did have to just figure out a fire drill in a new school without guidance and I had to wander around the hallway looking for the teacher workspace/bathrooms. Both of those situations were highly annoying and uncomfortable and I do not wish them on a sub ever, so I have put together this blog with a free sub/ emergency plan binder at the bottom for you to utilize. Not only will your sub greatly appreciate these resources, but having all of this information ready in one place will help you out too.

First, you need to get a designated binder. I use a 1-inch binder, and I have had it for 6 years. I have moved different schools with this binder, and although the content has changed a bit from school to school, the basic setup has not. I would recommend getting a binder that has the cover pockets and plastic cover so you can insert your own cover on it so it is very visible and easily found in your classroom too.

Inside the cover (if you got a pocketed binder) it is SOOOOO helpful to have a handful of bandaids, detention slips, and any other school passes/slips you may need throughout the day. If it is something that you as a teacher need for your students periodically provide it to your sub in an easy-to-access location. Do not make them have to look around for a referral paper or nurse pass if they are needed.


Have at least 4 dividers in your binder. I am sharing mine with you at the bottom of this blog and I just laminated them for durability, remember a well-constructed sub/emergency plan folder will last years! Your first divider should be the most important thing for your sub to see, and that is your lesson plans. I normally print my lesson plan out and highlight the key parts and have that binder open right to the plan. My simple sub plan template is included in my free resources at the bottom of this page. Other things you could include in this tab are pre-printed emergency lesson plans (most schools make you have a few of these). Recently I started adding a comment sheet and classroom log in addition to my lesson plans and that helped me really get a great picture of how the day went and more specific feedback. Again, I have included those forms in the sub binder file I am sharing at the bottom of this page.

The second tab should be designated for your classroom layout/map with student names and your rosters, I highly recommend that you make the map from the teachers perspective to help the sub with attendance, feedback/notes, and student participation. Additionally, you should add your class rosters here too. Your sub will likely get specific rosters to take attendance with from the office when they arrive on the assignment, but you will also be using this binder as your emergency binder, and rosters are required for emergency situations.


The third tab should be dedicated to your school's emergency plans. Every school I have been to has provided teachers a guide in pre-planning training for emergency situations. I do not spend any time making a new one for this folder, I figure if what the school provides is good enough to train me it will be exactly what my sub could use if they ever needed it. And believe me, if there is a drill on the day you are absent, your sub, students, and administrators will appreciate you providing that! My last 2 schools have required teachers to hold up a sign with their names on it to quickly assess "all clear" in fire or evacuation drill situations. Normally a green sign in the air means all good, and a red means something is wrong, but that could vary from school to school. Either way, I have a laminated red paper with my name on it and a laminated green paper with my name on it hole punched and conveniently placed in this section of the binder. I LOVE having all of my required emergency items in 1 place so when the alarm goes off I just grab this binder and go and prevent the mad scramble looking for things I rarely use.

The fourth and final tab I have in my sub and emergency binder it the FAQ and important school information tab. This is where you put things that are less likely to be needed, but oh so appreciated if you are a sub new to the school. PLEASE add a campus map and highlight the teacher breakroom and/or restrooms for your sub to easily see and find. I normally highlight and label some other important places like my "have to send a student to think teacher", media center, and cafeteria. Other things that are helpful are any school policies or procedures, again I do not reinvent the wheel here, I just add anything I am given that I think a sub may want to know. If you have classroom phones, a phone list with the important numbers highlighted is also very helpful. I do not know how many times I as a sub needed to call the designated teacher for a bit of clarification, or I as a teacher has called a sub to check-in and help. It is these little things that can make all the difference for your subs experience in your classroom and with your students.


Here is the free Sub and Emergency Plan Binder resource I promised.


Please use and adjust as needed. Don't forget to share my blog with any others who may benefit. I would love it if next time I was forced to sub between moves, the teacher I sub for had all the information I would need for a successful day all in one place like this!

Let me know what you think.

Feedback and new ideas always welcome!

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