How to Keep Your Sub Days From Being a Total Wash

How to Keep Your Sub Days From Being a Total Wash
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My first day in the classroom was as a sub. I went in with ambitions to change young peoples lives; to see the student who isn’t seen, to hear the student who isn’t heard. The sub plan read as follows: “have the students work on odd problems on page 114 in the workbook.” There were about 4 different workbooks amidst the pile of papers on her desk and I don’t know which one she was referring to.

Needless to say amidst my complete lack of classroom management skills and lack of direction, the day was a total wash and one of my worst days in the classroom.


During my semester as a sub before becoming a full-time teacher, I had many a days of little to no sub plans. I also had a good handful of days of detailed and thorough sub plans. Days with the full set of sub plans were far better both for me and for the students and I’ve sought to provide subs in my own classroom with the same direction.

In today’s episode I discuss:

  • exactly the level of detail I put into my plans (I read out a section of my own plans)
  • how I format my plans so they’re more readable and easier to reference
  • how I communicate with my students ahead of time in a way that the class could run even if a sub didn’t show up (which has never happened but that’s the ideal)
  • my emergency sub plans for days I am unexpectedly out




By Thom H Gibson

I help middle school STEM teachers create meaningful & memorable experiences for their students. Teacher, podcaster, YouTuber. Two-time teacher of the year

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