When I know I will be away from the classroom for the day, I prepare lesson plans in advance and gather activities for the substitute teacher. However, there are times when teachers have to take an unexpected leave of absence. Reasons can range from having to take care of a sick child to having to deal with a family emergency to feeling ill.
I remember during my first year of teaching being rushed to the emergency room in the middle of the night due to severe abdominal pains. It turned out my gallbladder was inflamed and I needed emergency surgery!
As I sat in the room waiting to be prepped for surgery, I thought about the fact that I didn’t have any substitute plans prepared. Since I couldn’t leave the hospital, one of the doctors was nice enough to let me use his computer so that I could email some plans to my grade group and let them know my medical situation.
From that moment, I learned that life can bring about the unexpected at any time and it doesn’t cut you any breaks just because you’re a teacher. I needed a backup system. That’s where the idea of the “Sub Tub” began.
The “Sub Tub!” What’s inside?
Inside my Sub Tub is a binder with the following information: detailed lesson plans, attendance sheets, the dismissal schedule (telling which students are bus riders, car riders, etc.), the daily class schedule, a school map and the school phone list. I also have brightly colored folders for morning worksheets, reading worksheets, math worksheets, drawing paper and handwriting paper.
There are enough copies already made, and all the substitute teacher has to do is select the one(s) that he/she would like to use as instructed in the lesson plans. I also include several books to read and even disinfecting wipes.
When creating the Sub Tub, I also thought about my former days as a substitute teacher. There were many times when the teacher didn’t leave any plans, or the plans weren’t clear. Often, there weren’t enough worksheets and materials and I wasn’t told where to get the needed materials.
So, it was my goal to make sure that I never caused a substitute teacher to feel overwhelmed and stressed when they helped in my absence. So far, the Sub Tub has been well received. I’ve had numerous substitutes leave me notes of how thankful they were I left such detailed plans for them, and how all of the materials were in one location.
Investing the time to create a Sub Tub and keeping it up to date is well worth the effort. Anytime I need to take off or wake up feeling ill, I don’t have to worry about being unprepared. I just leave the Sub Tub out on top of my filing cabinet and that’s it.
This is one of the best tools I have used in my classroom, and I encourage all teachers to make one!
About the author: Keziah Massalene is a second grade teacher at Westside K-8 School in Kissimmee.