Trina Deboree
Teaching and Learning

Teaching and Learning

How to Be Prepared In a Subbing Emergency

Sub Plans Can Be a Lifesaver!

Especially on those days when you think you have it all together. You have the kids in the car, you’re actually dressed, everybody has eaten, and for the first time backpacks and lunches are prepared and in the car with you. You are driving along thinking to yourself, Wow, I got this! That’s when it happens. Words from the back seat come floating up in a shaky voice, “Mommy, I don’t feel well…” You think to yourself, No not today. We have so much to cover. I might even be getting a walk through. Just make it through today. In your best mommy cares about you and isn’t panicking voice, you tell your child, “It’s okay, honey. I think your stomach just needs to settle from your breakfast. I’m sure once we get to school you will feel so much better. And don’t forget Ms. Rogers is super excited to see you today.” 

Crisis averted for now. 

And then it happens. SPLAT! Breakfast all over the car! Now what?

It’s times like these that having emergency sub plans can come in very handy. It saves you from having two massive issues to deal with. It gives you more time to focus on puke and your sweet sick child and less time to worry about all the extra work you are piling onto your colleagues and yourself. 

So, How Do You Prepare for the Unexpected?

Or even better, how do you have a stash of plans for that just-in-case moment when you decide that today is the perfect day to go to the beach! (Because we all need mental health days every now and then!)

I’m going to share with you a solution to your sub-plan issue. Here’s how to be prepared, for the first time, in a subbing emergency!

Being prepared in an emergency subbing situation can save you even more stress and worry. 

Being prepared in an emergency subbing situation can save you even more stress and worry. 

Step One:

Have emergency sub plans created in ADVANCE. This step will save you massive moments of panic and give you the ability to put first things first. Preplanned preparation also gives you peace of mind that your students are in good hands and still learning while you are out. 

Step Two:

Find the perfect spot to store your plans. Crates from the dollar store work well. File boxes are another great idea. I like cute wood baskets like this one that I found at TJMaxx. (Gotta love that store!) Make sure your team leader or teacher friend knows where they are. (Someone you can count on to just grab them and put them on your desk.)

Step Three:

Have basic paperwork pre-filled out and ready to go. If you are like me and like to type, I have created an editable version of this basic paperwork that can be filled out in Google Drive. My link will prompt you to make a copy. Then you can change the title to whatever you want, edit it, and store it on your Google Drive. (You will need a Gmail account- which is easy and free. Believe me; it is worth it! Love Google.)

Step Four:

Have copies and any other necessary items taken care of in advance. This makes it so much easier for your teacher friend! 


Step Five:

Breathe easy knowing that your sub will have everything they need and you can take care of your emergency or even better- take your much needed Mental Health day! 


I know at some schools people feel it is fine to leave your regular plans for the sub. I know that my regular plans were very detailed due to all the insane lesson plan expectations we had. However, I never expected other people to have to follow them. Lesson plans were for me (and evidence of my effectiveness, blah, blah, blah). Don’t get me wrong we have some outstanding subs out there and many who were former teachers (although, are they crazy?!) But I want the day to run smoothly for anyone that comes in my class. I also want my plans to reflect a somewhat normal schedule so that the kids don’t feel too off. Keeping students busy and learning will win you major points with your sub! Quite frankly, I was pretty proud of the comments my subs would leave. They always said- 
“Thank you for leaving such detailed and complete plans. This made the day go by so smoothly.” 

Also, you may decide as a team to have each team member plan a day and then combine the days to have enough for at least a week. That can be a great way to collaborate and to be prepared. 

If you are in need of some already-done-for-you-sub-plans, be sure to check out my Emergency Sub Plans and my Emergency Sub Plans Winter Edition. Each packet contains five days of plans for reading, writing, language, math, and science or social studies. All you need are the copies and a few books (of your choice) for the read-aloud section. 

And if you need more information on how to put these plans together, check out my free video on How to Put My Sub Plans Together.

I hope these tips help you be prepared in case of an actual emergency and in case of a much-needed break. Here’s to a stress-free day off and no more puke in the car! 

Happy Teaching and Learning!

I would love to hear your funny or not so funny stories about needing emergency sub plans! Or even better, a funny story about a time you had a not so knowledgeable sub in your room. Those stories can be hysterical! (Well, after the fact anyway.)