I’m not good at being away – sick or otherwise. I’m a bit of a control freak, and I have a very guilty conscience (I frequently think: “I’m not sick enough to be away”). Really, no one wants to be away from the classroom, but it is inevitable. I try to make sure that I do take a sick day when needed, and coaching sports teams or PD is so important and therefore I create a thorough Supply Binder. That way I feel less guilty and more in control. I hope that all of your absences will be planned, but in the event that they’re not (or if you’re too unwell to really prepare for them) here is a list of things to include in your supply binder so that you’re always ready – and you set your class and the supply teacher up for a great day!
1) Paperwork: Class Lists, Time Tables, Duty Schedules, Map
These are a given: the supply teacher needs all of this information. I like to include it all in the unlikely event that I am away for an emergency – anyone who stepped into my room would be able to find all pertinent information in one place – no matter what day of the schedule it is.
2) Class Routines and Management
Who takes the attendance to the office? Can they work in the hall/back room? Where do they hand things in? Where do they sit? What tech rules do you have? I try to answer any questions that may arise in this area. That way the supply teacher can be consistent with your expectations and your students know they need to follow the routines.
3) Important People
This should include room numbers and extensions of anyone who might be needed while you’re away. Support Teachers or TAs, Admin and extra helpful co-teachers are great people to include on this list. If any students get withdrawn for support (ESL or Spec. Ed.) I like to include days/times and room numbers for that as well.
4) High Flyers
I include students that could push limits and routines, and who may have problematic behaviours in this area – as well as strategies that work, or people to call if needed. I also like to include students who are extra helpful or who know routines etc. if the supply teacher has further questions.
5) Alternate Activities
Sometimes activities take 5 seconds instead of a whole period, sometimes the internet isn’t working or the students just don’t get a lesson. In the event that all of these things happen – I like to include activities that a supply teacher can do. It could be DPA choices, games the class likes to play or what to do if they choose to take the students outside.
6) Emergency Plans
I sincerely hope that an Emergency does not take you away from school. In case it happens, I like to have at least one lesson per subject that can be taught at any time. It could be a short writing activity for language, a number talk for math or some drama games. This way, if you need to be focused on other things, anyone could step into your class and manage them.
7) Past Supply Plans
I always type up my Supply Plans, and I tend to put a lot of work into them. I like to keep them in the Supply Binder for two reasons: A) I worked hard on them, and don’t want to throw them out and B) I hope that in the event something changes/goes wrong, a supply teacher could reference them for understanding about past things that have been done.
8) Feedback Forms
I like to include this on top of the binder with the supply notes. There are so many types on TPT and Pinterest, and you need to find or make one that works for you. I like to know if there were any issues (and with which students) as well as any great moments (again, with which students). I also like to know if there was anything that they didn’t get to or that the students struggled with. I also hope this will encourage them to leave me their contact info so I can ask great supply teachers to come back to my room 🙂
At first, this sounds like a lot of work to set up – and it is. I promise though, that it is worth it. Your room will be ready for anyone to step into, whether it is a planned day away or an emergency.