The Importance of Emergency Sub Plans

When I first got hired on at my new site, I vividly remember my principal telling us new teachers to have an emergency substitute binder with 3 days worth of lesson plans. I remember being so overwhelmed with all that goes into getting your classroom up and running at the beginning of the year, so I filed that suggestion away in my brain– always meaning to set up that binder. Unfortunately I never did, and never really thought about it, after all, I would always know when I’d have a sub right? Or at the very least, I’d already have my lessons planned and could go in early to prepare, or just tell admin where to find what was needed for the day.


That was how I operated… until I was out on COVID quarantine. I had to quarantine right when we returned from winter break. This meant I had absolutely nothing planned or prepped for the week ahead, and I was not allowed to enter my classroom for my TEs or planning materials. I’ve never regretted putting off someone's advice any more than I did that day. Luckily, I have an awesome partner and mentor who saved the day.


Here are a few suggestions so you don’t make the same mistake I did!

  1. Work to build a relationship with your partner or team. Make sure you have a way to contact them if there is an emergency and you have to reach out.

  2. Develop or purchase sub plans that are not dependent on following your pacing guide. Something that can be easily pulled and given to the students with minimal instruction or teaching… I suggest review concepts!

  3. Consider using an online learning management system, I used Google Classroom and had my journal prompts be online for my absence. It was nice to be online with them in real time and watch their answers come in. I was even able to leave comments on some entries as they were online. When I returned my students said it was such a fun surprise to see my replies. It was also nice to leave a message for my students on the class stream, and establish a line of communication in case any of them felt they needed to tell me anything important.

Nobody wants to be out with an emergency. However, if you plan ahead you can reduce your stress to make it as painless as possible.