This morning I woke up feeling really under the weather. All I wanted to do was crawl back in bed and sleep for a few more hours. Luckily, I started to feel better with a little more rest, but it got me thinking about the days of teaching, especially going back to school and getting sick from being around all the students again. I remember throwing together dreaded last minute sub plans when I was so sick I could hardly move from bed, and other days sucking it up and dragging myself to school because the thought of sub plans seemed worse than just going to work. This was until I started preparing for being sick at the start of the year.
Since being sick isn’t something you can normally predict like vacation, it adds the pressure to send sub plans early in morning so the students have something to do that day. What I learned was a small amount of work on the front end can save you a ton of work on those mornings you’re sick. Here are some ways to prepare for the days that you need to take care of yourself that’ll help you be less stressed and let you focus more on getting well.
Way To Prepare For Being Sick
- Have a sub binder. Having a sub binder will save you a lot of worry when you can’t make it to school. It can be an actual binder, a Dropbox, Google Drive, or on your school’s driver. Just make sure that it’s accessible to others. I recommend having in your binder:
- Class schedule- This is a mistake that can cause a lot of confusion for a sub. If your schedule or room changes, make sure to include every day and room numbers!
- Classroom rules and procedures– Having these available for the sub makes it much easier for them to enforce the rules.
- Seating chart (with pictures if possible)– The sub will appreciate this, and if students act out then they can report who the culprit was.
- Student helper in each class– Choose a student who can be trusted to be a helper to the sub in your classes. This gives them someone to turn to if they are unsure.
- Packets of review activities for students- Students could always use time to review important standards, so spiral back in those important standards. Make 3-5 packets ahead of time, so you’re covered. Avoid new concepts that students can’t complete independently. This opens up the door for off task behaviors.
- Use online resources to make sub plans. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use Teachers Pay Teachers or other online resources so you aren’t stressing. As mentioned above, spiral in important concepts for students to practice that they need to review for upcoming lessons or exams.
- Let a colleague and a few students know where your sub plans are. If it’s a binder or some other form of sub plans, make sure someone knows where they are if you’re sick. You don’t want to get an email or call saying no one could find them.
- Plan activities that require little work from the sub. This saves the sub from having to run around the classroom answering individual questions, students getting off task, or other chaos breaking out.
- Set clear expectations for students at the beginning of the year for when they have a sub. Make sure you talk about expectations for when you aren’t there at the beginning of the year and review often. You won’t have to worry as much about students behavior while you are trying to get better.