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What to Include in Your Substitute Teacher Binder 

I can’t tell you enough how much respect and gratitude I have for substitute teachers (or casual relief teachers)! It’s such a challenging role, to slot into a different grade or even school at the last minute and pull together a lesson on the fly. Even with years of teaching experience, I imagine it’s still pretty daunting to walk into a classroom and not know what’s waiting for you on the other side! 

That being said, preparing for a sub teacher can often be just as challenging. I remember many a time where I just decided to soldier on and head into school even when feeling unwell because of the dread of creating plans for the sub.

That’s where having a substitute teacher binder becomes a bit of a lifesaver! Yes, it’s an upfront time investment, but the peace of mind that having a sub binder in place gives you is well worth it in my opinion! Whether it’s a binder or a dedicated drawer that you whip up with some teacher trolley labels, having some resources ready to go for your sub will make everyone’s lives easier! 

Here’s what you should consider when putting your substitute teacher resources together. 

A substitute teacher binder sits on top of a teacher trolley with rainbow classroom decor.
Setting up a binder for substitute teachers is easier than you think!

Creating your substitute teacher binder 

Creating a substitute teacher binder is quite simple. For the binder itself, a regular ring binder should do the job just fine! If yours has a protective plastic cover on the front, you can very easily customize the text on one of my editable binder covers, print it out and slot it right in. 

An assortment of rainbow substitute teacher binder covers spread out on a table
My Editable Earthy Rainbow Binder Covers include 24 different designs for you to customize! Shop them here.

Invest in some dividers and label these with the different substitute teacher resources you’ve included, so it’s easy for your sub to find what they need. 

 

Welcome note 

If the sub or CRT is new to your class or school, chances are they’ll be feeling a little lost! A little welcome note or letter to introduce yourself and say thanks is a really nice way to accept them into your classroom and let them feel comfortable. 

This doesn’t have to be a personal essay – remember, your substitute only has a limited amount of time to prepare before the students arrive! – so keep it short and sweet.

Include some lined paper up front too, so that your sub can write a note back to you letting you know how their day went.  

 

Schedule or timetable 

Give your sub a rundown of a regular day in your classroom. Be sure to highlight any special activities, such as P.E./sport, library time or IT classes that might take the students out of the classroom.

Another important schedule for your sub to be aware of – the yard duty roster! Include a copy of this in case they’ll need to cover your slot. 

 

School and class information 

Starting out with the most obvious inclusion – a copy of your grade list or roll, denoting any preferred names or pronunciations that your sub should be aware of. If your school has pictures to accompany your students’ names, this can be really helpful in identifying each child! 

Also note any ‘helper’ students who the sub or CRT can ask for help, and any students who might need a little extra support. 

If you have one in place, include your seating plan too. 

Make sure you include any non-sensitive medical information that you’re cleared to share. Having a heads up around any students who have allergies or conditions like diabetes is super important for anyone stepping into your classroom!

Lastly, include any important contacts at the school that your sub might encounter or need to call on during the day. School contact details, a map of the school if it’s available, and general arrival/dismissal times and procedures are also good inclusions.

 

Worksheets and substitute teacher resources 

While your sub likely has a few go-to lesson plans up their sleeves, make their lives a little easier by printing out some no-prep-necessary worksheets that relate to a topic you’re covering that term or semester. 

This will help to create a little continuity for your students and make sure that their learning doesn’t stop just because you’re not there! 

A picture of a white binder with a pink rainbow cover
Hattie used my editable binder covers to prepare her substitute teacher resources! @misszandthefirsties

 

Class rules and behaviour management system 

Students just love to test their substitute teachers – what’s that saying, when the cat’s away, the mice will play? Arm your sub or CRT with an idea of your basic classroom rules, and how they should approach a situation in which a student is misbehaving. 

Are you happy for them to deal with it on the spot? Do you want that child to be sent outside, or to the principal? Do you want them to leave it for you to address the next day? Whatever you want them to do, make sure it’s clearly communicated. 

 

Emergency procedures 

It’s the absolute last thing you’d wish on any teacher, let alone a substitute, but it is important to prepare them in the case of an emergency. 

Your school induction process might cover this too, but include copies of any available response plans including your assembly point and lockdown procedures.

 

Give it a home using teacher trolley labels  

Having a clearly labelled, visible drawer for your sub binder makes it easy for them to walk in and spot it! Keeping a clearly labelled teacher trolley by the front of the classroom or by your desk makes this easy. 

Use my editable teacher trolley labels to dedicate a drawer for your substitute. Almost all 10-drawer trolleys (or teacher carts) have the same dimensions in my experience, so these will fit perfectly – just type in your text into the editable text boxes provided, print and stick inside the drawers to save yourself from having to laminate.

A 10-drawer cart decorated with botanical themed teacher trolley labels
Can you spot the Sub Drawer? Using my Teacher Trolley labels in Botanical theme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh and a little teacher tip? Let your students know about the sub drawer, too, in case it doesn’t get spotted right away.

And there you have it my teacher friend! You’ve just compiled a substitute teacher’s one stop shop for everything they need to know about your classroom. Know that you’ve just made their lives *so* much easier, and yours too – you can relax knowing that if you are ever feeling under the weather, you can take a day off without worrying about your students. Okay, you might still worry – but hopefully a little less! 

What’s included in your substitute teacher binder? I’d love to know! Drop me a comment below.

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