Kansas State University


College of Education

Planning ahead…for a sick day

sub-folderIn your first few weeks of teaching, you’ve probably not even thought of the possibility that you might miss a day of teaching. However, the time will come—due to your being sick or an illness in the family, an emergency, or even a professional development opportunity supported by your school—that you will be absent from your classroom for a day or more.

It’s better to be prepared for it, rather than wait for that opportunity to present itself—possibly as stomach flu at 4 in the morning.

Some schools have folders that their teachers use for substitute plans, or possibly a sheet that includes the basic information of your teaching duties. But you’ll want to be a little more prepared than that, so you’ll probably want to set up your own Substitute Plans folder and keep in your desk in a specific place.

Consider adding the following to your personal “sub” folder:

  • Your daily schedule (including times, lunch and plan periods, etc.)
  • Lists (and directions) of any other rooms where your substitute would need to be.
  • General school daily schedule (hours/blocks/etc.).
  • General school lunch schedule.
  • Emergency drill plans (map, directions, etc.)
  • A list of key contacts and their telephone extension numbers.
  • Easy access to class rosters (with notes of any special needs or concerns for specific students).
  • Seating charts, if applicable.
  • A brief sentence summarizing the purpose of the class.
  • A list of information about each class—approximate number of students, any paraprofessionals or other educators who assist with the class.
  • For classes with older students, a list of responsible, go-to students they can count on for help.
  • Your phone number or email if they should need to contact you.
  • Blank notebook pages—so they can easily leave you notes about the classes and any concerns or updates that they’d like to share.
  • A list of where they can find key materials.
  • Some untimely—but educationally appropriate—assignments that the substitute can use to fill time, as needed.

By having this general information already prepared, when the time comes for you to be absent, you’ll only need to write the specific activities for that day.

For those daily activities, if your absence is unplanned due to an illness or emergency, email the specific directions to the office assistant and to another teacher, as a backup. Be sure to point out the location of your substitute folder. Otherwise, have a copy printed out ahead of time and left on your desk.

The easier you can make it for the substitute, the easier your return will be…and the less worrying you’ll do during your absence. Trust me, the stomach flu…or the PD opportunity…will demand ALL of your attention!