Creating a Substitute Binder

Binders and pens with teacher in the background

Calling all teachers! If you don’t already have a substitute binder, we highly suggest you consider making one. Substitute binders are extremely helpful to guest teachers and are sure to keep the quality one’s coming back.

What to Include

  • Welcome Letter: The “Welcome Letter” should be the first page of any substitute binder. Your letter will thank the guest teacher for covering your class and will provide a summary of what is in the binder. This simple gesture shows that you care for and respect your substitutes.
  • Seating Chart: The seating chart should show a view of all of the desks in your classroom. Each desk will have a students name to indicate who sits where. It is also helpful to point out the “helpers” and “trouble makers” on this chart.
  • Classroom Routines: Every class functions differently. That’s why it is important to indicate what the typical day looks like for your students. This sections answers how and when things are done. For example, it would outline the attendance procedure for the substitute.
  • Lesson Plan: This is arguably the most important piece of your sub binder. Always include a lesson plan. Lesson plans ensure that the day is not wasted and that your class stays on track with their learning. For the sub, it keeps the class busy and well-behaved. A lesson plan is the first thing a sub will look for.
  • Classroom Management Tools: Have your students memorized a particular set of rules? If so, then you will want to share them with the substitute. Classroom management is the toughest part about substitute teaching, but having established tools at hand will help the day run more smoothly.
  • Student Specific Information: Here you will want to provide any information regarding students particular needs such as medical conditions (e.g. medicines or routine nurse visits), food allergies, or any specific needs that they may have.
  • Duties for the Day: Depending on the day, your guest teacher may be responsible for more than just covering your class. They might, for example, be scheduled for carpool duty after class as well. Make sure you have a list of your duties for particular days during the week and include where they should report to.
  • Emergency Procedures: Don’t assume substitutes always receive school emergency procedures from the office. Include these and a map of the school in your sub binder to ensure the guest teacher is prepared in the case of an emergency.
  • School Policies: Similarly, while you may have specific policies for your classroom, it helps the substitute to know the school’s policies as well. This will help them determine what to expect from themselves and the students.
  • Helpful “Neighbor” Contact: This page is particularly helpful for substitutes that are new to your school. If a student gets out of hand or they have question, it is a great idea to point them to a fellow teacher that can help them out.
  • Time Fillers: Time fillers are great when students finish an assignment early. They can be anything from writing prompts to educational games. Help your substitute maintain control of the class by leaving a few time filling activities for them.
  • End of the Day Review Sheet: Finally, we suggest leaving an of the day review for them to fill out. This can include a summary of the day, what got done in the lesson, what didn’t get done, who behaved especially well, and who behaved poorly.

Want an awesome example of a great substitute binder? Check out how Kelsey of Wife Teacher Mommy made hers! See it here.


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