How to Plan for a Long-Term Sub
Considering my maternity leave is in full swing, I would like to reflect back on the process I used to plan for my long-term sub. If you know me, I tried my best to keep things as organized as possible, but also keeping it manageable for me. There was a lot to get ready for, but well worth it in my mind, because now I am spending my days doing a lot of snuggling and thinking less and less about school.
Even if you are never planning on being gone for an extended period of time, I am hoping some of the strategies can still help you when planning for a substitute in general or even in an emergency situation when you need to leave at the drop of a hat.
I like to think of my planning in two phases – The planning I did for “just in case” I went in early before my due date and the planning I did for my long term sub’s duration after my due date. I will be gone for 14 weeks! (12 FMLA and two extra weeks for our holiday break). This is a lot to plan for! I feel so lucky to be able to spend this time with my sweet little one.
Phase 1: Before Due Date
As I mentioned above, Phase 1 involves plans just in case I were to go into labor early. It gave me a lot of unrest to think about leaving my room one day and the next not returning. You hear of people going a few weeks early, so I wanted to be prepared. I made a little packet of brief plans for each week leading up to my due date, labeled with th week, grade levels and brief descriptions of the activities. I wasn’t super detailed (someone would have to be able to figure it out) but it was enough that the lessons could go on in my absence. This was put into a Sub Folder with my general schedule as well as general art room guidelines.
This little packet only chronicles the actual lessons. The General Art Room Guidelines is a document I have been working on and adding to over the course of the last few months as I think of something. There are so many little things, like how to prepare for custodians on which days and bus duty details, I was worried I would forget something, so I kept this running document and added things as I thought of them. It’s amazing what we all do in a day! This type of document you could create and have on hand for a substitute at all times. It really saves details in your sub plans to have the lessons separate from the “other stuff”…. I would think it also makes it easier on the sub.
This document includes things you won’t want to forget, such as:
- Seating Information
- Behavior Plan
- Custodial Information
- Clean up procedures
- Positive Reinforcement
- Awards and art displays throughout the year
- Supplies and where to find them
- Emergency Drill information
- Committee Work
- PLC and Art Department Information
- The list goes on and on- depending on your own school and job description!!
Phase 2: After Due Date
The Art Room Guidelines also is part of Phase 2, however, now we are talking about the time from my due date to the end of my leave. These plans must be more detailed and include much more. Now, some people tell the sub to “do whatever you want,” especially since mine happens to have an art degree, however, we have a curriculum to follow and I happen to know that my projects fit the curricular obligations well and in the correct time frame. As the teacher, I prefer that my plans are kept (a few modifications are fine…I am flexible) however, I found it just easer to stick with my projects. So, I created a Rubbermaid tub with folders for each month. In each folder I have labeled the month to teach the lesson in, the grade level, and the project name.
Inside of each folder is a brief lesson plan, any handouts or tracers or books that may go with the lesson and perhaps a few photos of the lesson or even examples.
It was my initial goal was to have each and every lesson typed up in AOE format (like you see on the Lessons page) but my energy and time ran out- so for some lessons I was able to get it typed out (and will share all of those with you in the coming weeks!) but for others I modified and did a quick lesson plan version. You gotta do what you can, right!
I also printed power point slides out in color just in case they were difficult to find on my computer. I use technology so much I wanted to continue that trend, but also wanted to make it simple and easy for the sub to figure out.
I put a tub out on the counter and stocked it full of any strange or abnormal supplies she might need over the duration of the leave that were beyond basics like makers or crayons. This will also help so she doesn’t have to dig through the cupboards to find the 18 inch rulers or printmaking foam.
Another thing I made sure to do was explain my grading system, I even did a tutorial for my substitute on the computer to help her learn how to enter grades. I entered as many grades as I could before I left, so she would not have that burden and could just finish up the grades that needed to be done. What a daunting task!
Overall, I felt very prepared to leave and have since shut off my school email so I am no longer looking at that (hard for me!) – but it’s a good thing because reading school email is NOT how I should be spending my time :)
What other tips and tricks do any of you have for preparing for a substitute or for a long term/emergency leave? I’d love to hear your ideas!