6 Things You Should Have for a Sub


“That’s not the way our teacher does it…”

I can’t even imagine the number of times a substitute teacher will hear that phrase upon entering my classroom in my stead. I give them props! I try to be super detailed for my subs, and have worked on how I put my materials together for them over the years.

6 Things You Should Have for a Substitute Teacher - This list seems easy enough

Here are six things that I include because I think they make prepping for a sub so much easier on me. And I think they help a sub go from surviving our classroom to thriving in it!

Currently I have a multi-page clear folder that I snagged from the Dollar Tree that holds all of my sub tools.

Welcome substitute!

 I want to make our sub feel welcome. It can be tricky to try and step into someone else’s shoes for day. I want my substitute teacher to know that I’m glad they are here – so I say it. Literally!
How to prepare for a sub - Welcome - I could easily drop my info into this and be done

In the very front window pocket of the entire folder, I tuck in this welcome note and then proceed to fill the rest of the pockets inside the folder with the sheets below.

Mail & lesson plans

Using a binder clip – I clip a label the front cover for subs to clip all papers/notes together that happen float into their possession during the day.

6 things you should have for a sub - KindergartenWorks

I tuck in my detailed lesson plans and label them too for quick reference. I set these at the front so the sub can grab them right away if they happen to walk in late… because that never happens.

Class list

How to prepare for a sub - Class List - I could easily drop my info into this and be done

This one may be obvious, but I include a class list with photos. I also hand this out to our specials teachers the first week of school and they are very grateful.

I normally keep a set of name labels in the pocket with this list to make calling students by name a matter of “peel and stick”. Since I mention students by name in my plans, I think this helps give a heads up before the day begins.

Contacts list

I like to mention helpful people by name that would be the top three a sub might come in contact with on any given day. This includes our secretary, our school nurse and my favorite teacher down the hall. I’d want to be able to call someone by their name if I could… names are important!
Plus we all know how valuable it is to make great friends with the school secretary! {wink}


If I want my high expectations held throughout my half day, whole day or multiple day absence… I figure I’d better shed the light on them. This is a “sub-ified” version of our parent/student behavior agreement plan for our classroom.

Emergency procedures

How to prepare for a sub - emergency procedures - I could easily drop my info into this and be done

This one is my least favorite, so I try to make it easy on the eyes. Our normal one that hangs by our door is so not user-friendly but is mandated.

So, I keep this one in the folder to make it easy to grab and go and understand my version of how I explain things to students.

The day’s materials

6 things you should have for a sub - KindergartenWorks

I like to spread out the day’s materials and place a label card on top of each set of materials. It allows me to do one final check that I’ve set out everything they need to match the plans I’ve made.

I adhere a library card pocket to hold all of these 3×5 cards in the back of my sub folder so I don’t have to wonder where I put them the next time I’m prepping for a sub.

Do you want the quick way to get this done for yourself? Set up your own substitute folder using this ready to go template. It’s editable so you can plug and play your own classroom information and you’re good to go!

How to prepare for a sub -Substitute Welcome Packet Editable - I could easily drop my info into this and be done

Purchase the Substitute Survival Editable Packet

What’s something you do to try and make a substitute’s life {and yours} easier?

Check out how I like to leave my stuff out for a sub.

How to Prepare For a Substitute Teacher - These are easily doable and it should make stuff easy to find

And if you teach kindergarten, grab these free emergency sub plans that’ll make being ready in a pinch soooo much easier.

Supermonsters Training Day - FREE easy beginning of the year emergency sub plans for kindergarten

If you like what I do here on KindergartenWorks, then be sure to subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly.

More on teacher organization

What the must haves are to leave for a sub - help them by being prepared - 6 Things You Should Have for a Substitute Teacher

Similar Posts


  1. This is amazing! I am subbing for kindergarten several times this month and was looking for tips. I wish more teachers prepped this well for subs!

  2. Wow. First off, I have to say that is amazing and life would be easy as a sub in your classroom. Hehehe.
    I love have lesson plans (yes I have been in classes where there have been none and no general emergency one). The other great stuff that I see you included is a list of kids, who to contact if the sub needs help, prodcedures, and emergency info.
    I used to get told “that’s not how our teacher does it”, but one day another child responded back with “She’s not our teacher and does it the substitute way!” Lol.
    But it does make it easier for us if we know if you have any ways that you get the classes attention, to know how you run behavior management, kids with any special needs/allergies.
    I’ve also been in classes that gives us ‘sub tubs’ and have filler sheets for any subject and if we ran out of material could grab from there. One teacher also had me teach off of a generic lesson plan that day. I just grabbed a stack of worksheets for each lesson. You said you wanted to know how to do a general lesson plan while doing a theme…well if you know that you will be absent, you could have worksheets and activities specific to the theme already.

    Ok I’m done rambling, lol but you wanted me to post on it. If you want more ideas on anything specific, let me know and I’d be happy to help 🙂

  3. Wow!! Thanks for sharing…you are truely amazing! I am so looking forward to putting this together! ☺

  4. This is so helpful and visually beautiful. I love to see how other people prepare for a sub.
    I do a few things you might like. I leave a class list in the form of individual photos with their names under their picture. I also leave name tags for the kiddos to wear that just clip to their shirt. Your presentation is lovely and welcoming. I love your sense of order. Fran: kindergartencrayons.blogspot.com

  5. Thanks Erin! Stephanie, That is one thing I have yet to wrap my brain around. The other K teacher in my building and I have talked about how can you create plans general enough (they grow sooo much!) or a themed-day that is all-inclusive, but haven’t attempted to put any brain power into it. I’d love to figure it our though. I’d sleep in easier on days when I’m not healthy enough to go in 😉

  6. Thank you so much for sharing! I can’t imagine how often the subs hear…that’s not how our teacher does it, lol.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *