Thursday, February 9, 2012

Out Sick. Got Sub Plans?

If my life were a book, this is the only
sticky note I could stop, think, and jot!
Yup, AGAIN! 
I was just sick in early December.
With the same thing! 

I actually left school sick midday on Tuesday.  I've never done that! 
I was able to fight my way through Wednesday, but today finds me at the doctor again and home today and tomorrow.  Hopefully, having this time off will put me back on my game by Monday.

It has to.
Because when you follow a reading and writing workshop model of instruction,
leaving sub plans is nearly impossible! 
At least for me it is. 

I find myself falling back to leaving plans for whole class reading of a book from our anthology and a generic writing assignment.  I find it really hard to leave plans that actually fit the plan I follow.  I think a sub's head would bug out if I left writing workshop plans, word work plans, reading workshop plans, and small group meeting plans for center time.  Plus, I would have to go in to some lengthy explanation as our sub pool ranges from a small handful who know how to do all that to the majority who haven't a clue.

So, after I post this, I am going to type up some more sub plans for tomorrow that anyone could do, mostly review with some easy to teach new stuff thrown in.  All of which means, come Monday, my friends have no idea of the game of catch-up we will be playing!

Here are my questions for you:
If you are using a workshop model, even if you aren't,
how do you plan for subs? 
Do you leave "real deal" lessons?

Honestly, between lesson plans for subs and all the work sitting on your desk when you get back,
it's more work for teachers to be out sick than to just go in!


  1. Nancy,

    I just got done doing 8 days of sub plans. My father is having some heart problems, so I had to prepare the next 2 weeks...just in case! I follow the workshop model, but cannot trust this to a sub. Sorry, but I have tried in the past and my class and materials get destroyed when there are subs. So I have made plans exactly as you described...using a read aloud and generic writing and math activities. I hate it for my kids...and myself when I return, but I see no other way around it! At my school, it seems pretty typical that we all plan for subs this way! I hope you feel better!


    1. Oh Samantha, in a case like that, sub plans take a back seat! Plus, I couldn't imagine writing two weeks of sub plans. I hope that things go well with your father. Take care of you and your family.

  2. I don't necessarily use the workshop model, but I still find it next to impossible to leave my "real" plans with a sub (even the most capable ones!). I was a sub not too long ago and I appreciated the teachers who recognized that I didn't have a clue as to what was going on in their classroom before I came in, which it sounds like is important to the workshop model.

    I totally agree that sometimes it would be easier just to go in sick rather than make sub plans! Definitely not a fun thing to do...

    Feel better!!

    Kim Read

    1. Kim, I have totally gone in to work sick just so I don't have to deal with sub plans!

  3. I agree, it is more work to be gone! We are limited with subs also. If I know ahead of time who my sub is, I plan accordingly. It is so hard to leave my students, because I feel that I am doing then an injustice!

    Mandy Neal
    Cooperative Learning 365

    1. Mandy, I wish we could know who our subs are ahead of time. If you are planning an absence and put it in early, you can check and find out. But, if we are calling out sick, you just don't know who you will get. It makes it hard to leave plans for those more able subs because I just don't know if that's who I will get.

  4. I am thankful that there are two retired music teachers that used to work at my school. I am taking my first sick day tomorrow and was relieved to find out that one of them was able to sub for me. I have been hesitant to call in sick because I hate writing sub plans. My teacher books have lessons outlined so I am usually able to use those but for my performance classes, I usually have them watch a video that connects to music (musical, documentary, etc.) or theory worksheets.

    1. Isn't it great when you know you get a good sub? I think you rest easier. I know when I am out, I find myself catching the clock and thinking, "Oh, now they should be doing X. I hope they remember to . . . " When I do know I have a good sub, I don't find myself doing that as much.

  5. "... it's more work for teachers to be out sick than to just go in!"
    My sub plans can be 12 pages long. It takes me longer to write the plans than to just suffer through the day.
    I often write them almost exactly as you said. The kids are sometimes surprised we have "those books"!
    Still, we are human. We do the best we can... because rest is often a precursor to recovery.

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

    1. Kim, your comments always make me laugh. I think we are very in tune with how we do things! My kids actually didn't know what book I was talking about when I told them to take out their anthology one day. I had to explain what book it was. That's how often we use it. Almost never! However, it is a good thing when I need to leave those all-purpose sub plan. Which, sadly, is just what I had to do this afternoon.

  6. I almost ALWAYS have major issues when I'm out (tough group)... my principal just asked me if I was going to be out tomorrow" -- guess I look THAT bad!

    I told him... I'm too sick to be out... I don't have the energy to hassle with a sub. Between a prep period and library ... I'll suffer through it.

    1. Thank goodness, this year I was blessed with a really great group of kids. I don't have any real behavior issues when I'm out. However, having a tough group makes it just that much harder to take off when you are sick. I've had my share of tough groups in the past, and I would always rather go to school than deal with all the issues when I got back. Feel better Anonymous!

  7. I like to leave generic plans and my favorite thing to do with a sub is have them correct the work with the students! Learning experience, fills time, and I don't have anything to correct when I come back! I almost never do worksheets in my classroom so it's all something different for the kids to do when I'm not there. Still, so stressful though!

    Sara :)
    Smiling In Second Grade

  8. I don't know how this would work for your classroom (and maybe you do a little of this anyway) but one thing we are required to do is have a green sub binder. It is divided into several sections: classroom rules, lesson plans, emergency lesson plans, emergency exits, etc. Of course, the emergency lesson plans are generic. I plan on developing emergency lesson plans for every chapter. Then I can just tell the sub (or send the school secretary an e-mail) which chapter to have students do. You could also have the anthologies in a spot that you can specify to the sub (in yellow book case, etc) and have a reader's notebook assigned for the reading of their choice. This would help you to see how independent they are in doing the assignment. The problem with developing sub plans ahead of hope you are not sick in the beginning of the year before students are accustomed to routines. I don't know if this is at all helpful, but something to consider.

    I work a lot with I love this site. There is a calendar that I make sure students use daily. I can assign something from home and write on a note on the calendar that says something like "Substitute work: Please complete the assigned called Verbs. If you finish early, study for your vocabulary quiz or make new flash cards, etc." I work with high school students so they are pretty independent. This site allows me to see if students were actually working during the class time they were given, how much time they spent on the assignment etc. It's very useful!


  9. Ugh! Sub plans. To be honest, and isn't honesty whAt we all want, I put a lot of it on my kids. My fifth graders know the routine (as long as I am not out too early in the year) and the expectations. I give the sub a generic explanation of what we are working on, for example character analysis and the different activities the kids could be doing (discussing as a group, reading in pairs, charting the character traits, etc) and just ask her to check in my lower groups and make sure each group is doing SOMETHING. I tell the kids, I will know who was working hard and who wasn't when I return.

    Now, that being said last year this worked WONDERFULLY. Countless subs and my principal commented about how well my kids knew the routine/expectations and followed them YEAH! This year, not so much. Given countless attempts (I was very sick this winter and couldn't recover) things didn't go well. Therefore they were stuck with the whole group-not connected to what we re learning-boring lessons. I guess it REALLY depends on the class!

    Damien of The Reading Buddies

    Ps, I LOVE your blog!