Subs - not of the sandwich or boat variety but THE TEACHER KIND is my topic for tonight.  As I was blog stalking, I ran across Alisha's post from The Bubbly Blonde.  She has to be out for a few days and she posted this picture of her desk:

I don't know about you but that looks almost EXACTLY like my desk does for tomorrow.  YESSS (big sigh), I am out tomorrow.  For a big brew-ha-ha (I know that's not the spelling but I thought it looked cute so that version wins) at our district office regarding something that I probably shouldn't even talk about but I'm not even involved in it.  In other words, I don't really care that much.  And I have to do it again on Thursday.  Yes, the day after tomorrow!  They just need a general ed. first grade teacher there.  I was AMBUSHED by my principal in the teacher's lounge during lunch last week.  I was trying to bob and weave and duck and cover but nope.  She found me anyway.  And when she asked if I could do this for her, I said . . . YES.  Right away.  With a big smile on my face and a nod and maybe even a giggle.  (Let's just hope my lips weren't puckered accidentally.  That is where I draw the line!)  But as I was saying yes, my brain was shouting, "NO!  NO!  Negative!  Have you lost your mind, woman?  Don't you know I'm assessing?  Don't you know report cards are due and I haven't even started them?  Don't you know that I took a mental health day last week and already lost a day of assessments??  NO!!!!!  Now I have to write sub plans, too, you crazy lady!  WAAAA!!!!"  I mean, if we were having a contest of who's the busiest person in the world, I would win, hands down.  (Unless teachers that are also mothers entered the contest.  Then I would have to bow out.  But let's just the say the only other person who entered the contest was my husband.  I would win.  Hands down.)

Ugh.  Anywho, Alisha's desk looks like mine for tomorrow.  I make organzied piles by subject in the order that the sub will need to teach them.  I mark all kinds of things with post its.  My plans tend to be 9-10 pages long because I am extremely long winded thorough.  Most subs thank me for such "great plans".  I don't know what they REALLY think but that's what they write, in any case.  (Except for last year, when I had a very very very tough class, a sub wrote ONE line and ONE line only:  "I did the best I could." Ha!)

So that's how I've always prepared for subs.  BUT THEN my friend showed me what SHE does and I got jealous.  Jealous of the idea AND the prep period she gets for half day kinder.  She puts all of her things into a basket.  Something like this:
And she puts a ribbon on it and makes it even cuter.  Then, inside, she puts all of the things the sub will need.  But instead of in multiple piles, they're just in one neat pile in the basket.  And then the sub can walk around with the basket if the sub feels so inclined.  The pile is organized from what needs to be taught first down to the last thing at the bottom.  

Here's the kicker.  She puts a box of Whoppers on top with a cute little note that says, "Have a Whopper of a day!"  

So now I need to go buy a basket and get this all ready for Thursday.  It's too late for tomorrow - oh well.  It's bugging me but I'm going to let it go.  I have Housewives New Jersey to catch up on and Beverly Hills is on tonight.  I told you I was busy.

My questions to you are:
1.  What do you do when you have subs?  How do you prepare?
2.  Do you have any other "candy" ideas that I can use?  Besides a whopper of a day?  I thought of that m&m candy bar that says "mazing" on it or something.  So "Have an aMazing day."  Any others???  I like variety.  And choice.  My favorite candy bar is Take 5 but that would never last in the basket.  Ever.  It almost never makes it home from the store.
3.  If you've got a sec, go show Alisha some love over at The Bubbly Blonde.  :)


  1. Thanks for the love! And yes, of course it is okay!

  2. UGH...I HATE having a sub! I only call in sick when I have one foot in the grave...and even then I try to drag it out and haul myself in there to avoid making sub plans. But when I do have a sub, I do the basket thing like your colleague. (I do that every day, with all my things from start to finish regardless of whether or not I have a sub because it makes my life easier.) I have plans saved at home so if I have to be out unexpectedly I just add in the stuff for the day and send them to one of the gals on my team.

    No candy suggestions for ya...I recently started breaking out in hives when I eat chocolate, so I'm not even thinking about candy bars right now. It depresses me. :(

    Ms. Preppy's Adventures in Primary and Polka Dots

  3. So funny my sides are aching! I thought for a second I was reading a JBJ chapter by Barbara Park....My brain was shouting NO NO NO! Any how, happy planning and hope your day away is ok....xoxo :)

  4. I just had my second sub of the year on Friday. We are on the 24th day. My son keeps getting sick. The first time takes the longest because I write it on Google docs. Afterwards, I change a few things here and there. Like you, I leave it in piles. Normally, two piles; must do and extras if needed. Like your friend, I put it in order of how she/he will teach it. My only fear is that I get a sub who will not be able to handle the document camera or iTunes...technology. For my "go to" subs, I leave a little something...like a Starbucks card.

  5. I love reading your blog, Kristin. It's nice to hear other people crazy stories too. Thanks for following my blog. I'm hosting a giveaway if you're interested.
     Chrissy


  6. UGH! I would rather crawl into my room on my death bed than have a sub! I'm a little lucky now because I have an intern who knows the rope but most of the time I am JUST LIKE you and Alisa...with my piles with sticky notes and lesson plans that are "thorough." AND NOW, I have to get ready for my maternity sub...I know this is wrong, but I'm so bummed about missing out on 2 months of doing cute ideas with my kiddos...lol! I mean, don't get me wrong, I am glad to stay home with my (2nd) new baby...but just thinking about what I will have to come back to (since I've already lived through it once, it's kind of a nightmare for me..). BUT hopefully, they can maybe use my intern as my sub and things won't be so bad when I get back in February (baby is due New Year's Eve).

  7. Planning for a sub wouldn't be bad (I love being all organized, planning organization, it makes me happy) if I had all the time in the world. Usually, though, I'm in a mad rush.

    I do what your basket friend does (plan from the beginning of the day and pile it in one big pile) minus the cute basket and the whoppers.

    As for ideas...considering the class I have this year, I'd probably leave her CIRCUS peanuts...

  8. What about something like....I'm sure my class will make you snicker! (and enclose a snickers bar with something that goes on to say...have a great day!) Also...check out an old post of mine about my SUB TUB. It was inspired from What the Teacher Wants. Maybe that'll help you. I'm with you....Unless it's blood or guts, I try not to take off. It's such.a.pain! Gah! I'm already contemplating skipping math this morning to get some additional assessments done. Sheeze...enjoy your brew at Central Office! ;-) Atleast it's somewhat of a break!

    You can check out that old post here:

    Good luck...your posts always make me laugh!

  9. I have a generic "important info" page that I "lifted" from the web many years ago. That always goes first. It is a "manifesto" for the classroom. After that goes the plans for the day. I too, dread leaving because the plans are almost as long as the actual teaching. I will be out this week to visit my daughter in CA (she is in Oakland Teach for America core) and I miss her. So the next couple of days will be getting ready. Thanks for the wonderful blog and posts!!

  10. My plans are VERY long winded/thorough as well. I always get nice notes thanking me for my detailed plans too! I just want the sub to have everything they need, although they probably just think I'm a control freak. It used to be very hard for me to be out... and it still is a little... but then in the spring of 2010 I got picked for jury duty and had to serve for 2 months. YEP. We didn't have court on Mondays, so I came to school on Mondays. And that was it. It was SO hard, but I couldn't do anything but just go with it. I would come up one or two nights a week to organize, manage, grade, leave notes and treats for the kids. That's when I developed the system that I use now for subs and for myself. I have a basket/drawer for each day and EVERYTHING that I or the sub will need is in there. I mean everything. I also label each thing with a post it so they know exactly what it is - ex: math- indepdendent practice, etc. Things like my Treasures TE that will be used more than one day I mark with a post it flag for each day. I also include extra things for each day in case there is extra time - even though I don't think that has ever happened, even when I'm here!

    Next week I have to be out one afternoon for a staff development and then I'm out on Thursday and Friday on a trip so hopefully all goes smoothly for your sub and mine!

    PS - Take 5s are my absolute favorite too!

  11. My personal favorite is the substitute who tells the office, and your principal, that they couldn't FIND my plans. What??? How could you miss the ONLY stack on my desk with the bright yellow post-it that says SUB PLANS??!!

    I hate being absent. I'd rather have the kids play in traffic all day. It would cause less damage.

    Sorry, not very helpful!
    Good luck with getting everything completed for your report cards,

  12. Can you start writing a blogging newspaper/newsletter so I can get a daily dose of your humor with my morning coffee? K thanks. That'd be great.

    Just to make you feel better about being long winded..my sub plans are usually 9-10..11..12 pages. AND I TEACH HALF DAY PRESCHOOL. Oh, AND I HAVE A PARA WHO TEACHES WHEN I'M OUT.

    I could in fact leave NO sub plans and I'm sure things would run fine, but I can't bring myself to do that.

    Over the summer I saw so many "sub tub" ideas, so I labeled a bucked "sub tub" in the bucket I have a sub-binder using the printable I have listed on TpT & TN. Here's the kicker--that sub binder is STILL EMPTY. Yep. Haven't filled out ANYTHING for it yet.

    I have to take a half day "school business" next friday morning for a training, so I'm sure I'll be getting around to that sub binder here soon.

    I'm just like you-- I can never say no! I'm involved in a community project with Race to the Top and our school district where I have to plan a lesson to do at a local business about once a month to every other month. On top of all the other 100 things I have going on. And I was the one teacher picked--out of the entire district.

    Now that my comment is as long as your post, I'm off to comment on your FBU post since I couldn't at work when I read it on my lunch! :)

  13. For my subs, I like to leave everything in a pile in order, but I found a little clipboard-like tub. http://www.sterilite.com/SelectProduct.html?id=482&view=0&picture=1&tab=Description&ProductCategory=198&section=1

    I can put everything inside. On the top is a copy of the plans, which is basically my planning page's column for that day all spaced out page-sized with lots of details fit in. It usually takes up 2-3 pages with lots of bold, italics, and highlighting. Then I have my allergy folder, and my general class information, like procedures and school map. Next time I think I want to somehow rig those things so they always stay on the inside of the cover and don't get mixed in with everything else.

    Underneath all that is the materials. Each stack is paperclipped with a Post-It under the paper clip (so it can't possibly fall off) that describes what it is. They are all in order of when they are needed. There are even Post-Its in the read-aloud that tell which questions to stop and ask the kids. (I know, I know, I'm terrible.)

    I also include a dollar for the sub to get a snack or drink out of the vending machine in the teacher's lounge. It's not as cutesy, but for some teachers, a diet coke goes a VERY long way!

  14. LOVE your blog by the way! I teach middle school (6th grade science)and I usually leave nice, organized piles for my sub with post-its labeling the order of the activities. Because I teach Earth Science, I have left Milky Ways before saying, "Have an out of this world day!" :)

  15. I know you may be shocked, but I too am one of those over organizers for subs! I was out two days this year for meetings and such and used a magazine box to store everything in, each subject had its own file folder...but I love the basket and candy idea. I keep a typed "classroom procedures" letter in a sheet protector, so I can easily grab it for a sub...comes in handy.

  16. I always leave 50 cents so the sub can buy a soda during her day. I'm sure she needs it!

  17. My desk always looks like y'alls...tons of folders, tons of stacks, tons of post-its!

    Here's the kicker though. I don't have to make sub plans this year...aren't I lucky? The reason is my school does not have subs this year unless you are out for three consecutive days. Yup. So that means that when my coworker (who has already been out for FIVE days this year) is out, I get some of her class. Yeah, splitting classes sucks. I hate being out and like everyone else said I'd rather be on my death bed then be out sick.

    As far as candy ideas, here are some ideas:
    Milky Way: Hope your day is out of this world.
    100 Grand: Don't you wish this was your paycheck for today?

    Living A Wonderful Life

  18. I had a knee replacement last fall, and was out for 3 months. I ended up writing an abc book, like I use for my parent handbook and even though I hand picked my sub, 2 days before the surgery the school district said no to the sub I had. I lucked out though since the new sub was a former parent of one of my students, so at least she had an idea on how to keep my class room running similar to my style. But the handbook was pages and pages long, explaining every little detail I could think of, and although I only had to write 2 weeks of plans, we kept in contact through out so I could give her ideas and direction on things to cover, time table of activities etc. It sure was difficult, so I too have to be almost on my death bed before I take another day.

  19. I hate leaving sub plans and always PANIC that I have forgotten something! I use a wash tub (at Walmart for less than $3---I have about 20 of them). They are deeper than a basket and therefore can hold everything that the sub needs for the day. I used my cricut and some vinyl to put "Sub Tub" (borrowed from someone...sorry, don't recall who) across the front. What is nice about the tub is that I can have the sub leave EVERYTHING they need to keep for me right in it. I also have a photo class composite of the kids....easier to put a name with a face. There are often notes right on that composite (ESl students, AIS reading group students, etc.)

  20. You could really use any kind of candy and just leave a note saying, "Have a sweet day!" As for sub stuff, in the past I've used large manila envelopes for each subject. I put the time for each subject on the front of the envelope and the worksheets/materials for each one in the envelope. Then, everything is organized by subject and in one place.

    Teachin' First

  21. You made my evening with your running description of preparing for a sub! I am like you I too am "thorough" down to the point of typing up a brief bio of each child!
    I have a standard procedures sheet that I keep updated and print off so that the sub knows how routines are for coming in the morning. restroom and packing up in the afternoon.
    I like to leave the sub a disposal coffee cup with a lid and a variety of tea bags, sugar/sweetner, creamer and package of crackers with a little note.
    Sometimes I would sooner take a beating than leave my babies with someone else!
    Rest well tonite! Thanks for your humor!

  22. You made my evening with your running description of preparing for a sub! I am like you I too am "thorough" down to the point of typing up a brief bio of each child!
    I have a standard procedures sheet that I keep updated and print off so that the sub knows how routines are for coming in the morning. restroom and packing up in the afternoon.
    I like to leave the sub a disposal coffee cup with a lid and a variety of tea bags, sugar/sweetner, creamer and package of crackers with a little note.
    Sometimes I would sooner take a beating than leave my babies with someone else!
    Rest well tonite! Thanks for your humor!

  23. I'm the nerd that saves all her sub plans on her computer. The 1st column list the time period (9:00-10:00) along with the subject. If anyone goes to another teacher at that time I list it under that section too with any special notes. In the 2nd column I bulletpoint everything laid out for that period of the day. I tend to be very detailed. I also have a cover letter to my subs thanking them, briefly listing behavior management notes for my class, special behavior charts/incentives, who to ask for help, and a class roster. This goes on top of all the paper clipped papers and materials for the day. I stack it all chronologically so it's ready to go for the sub. Then I put it all in an accordion folder with the date and sub name on the folder. If I'm out for multiple days, each day's plans and materials go in its own folder.

    As for candy ideas? "Hope you have MOUNDS of fun!" "Thanks! You're a LIFESAVER!"


  24. I'm right there with you! Even though it takes me a while, I like to be thorough and organized to make things as easy as possible on the substitute. Post-its are my friend when leaving lesson plans! I like to leave a little something for the sub--I've left a bottle of water and a granola bar for a sub I knew was a health nut; I've left chewing gum or m&m's; and quarters for the soda machine. I've always received a little note saying how the subs appreciated the thorough lesson plans AND the goodies! :)

    WILD About First Grade!

  25. I am preparing to have a sub on Monday and I already started my piles everywhere! I need to go get a cute basket..good idea!!!


  26. I leave a sub tub. I have never thought of the candy idea...may do that next week...BUT I HAVE bought coffee for a few of my better known subs, knowing how much they would need it.
    I order the things in the tub in the order it is to be done.
    My plans are LONG!!! I have a binder that has a picture sheet with kids pics and names, important numbers in the bldg., sub log-ins, my cell #, some games etc. I have been told my plans are wonderful by every sub but one who said she couldn't follow them...I ONLY bullet the day and try not to give set times except for specials and lunch. What I may take 20 minutes on a sub may only take 5 minutes. You get the idea.
    My BIGGEST pet peeve is when they do not leave me a note back...even a, "class went great!"

  27. I don't leave things spread all over my desk because it would DRIVE.ME.CRAZY.

    I'm a stacker. I stack for myself too. Before I got home each day I start from the end of the day and work my way forward and have all of my materials needed for the day in one pile (except my small group stuff because that goes in another area of the room).

    One year I had a particularly horrible class (4th grade) and I took a long weekend (Fri & Mon) off and used folders to house all of the things they needed to get done. Some subs try their best and some just....don't. So I try hard not to be too upset if I come back to a disaster ;)

  28. I have a file box that says "Sub Tub" on the outside. Inside, there is a file with multiple copies of schedules (short version and the long, detailed tell-every-single-thing-that-I-do-and-that-various-kids-do-all-day-long version), a file of "notes from the sub" pages (so that subs will write how the day went), one with class lists (a list of every student's name, one with reading groups, and one with class jobs-which are the same for the whole year in my room), and one with Reading Daily 5 and Math Daily 5 choices checklists.

    Then, I have a folder for each subject - reading, writing, language, math, science, history, and "other fun stuff." I put two or three class sets of worksheets in each folder at the beginning of the year (I'm not a worksheet teacher, but when there is a sub...). As the year goes on, I put any worksheets that I make copies of but do not get to in those folders (which happens A LOT, because as I said, I'm not really a worksheet teacher.)

    Anytime I plan to be out, I leave really detailed lesson plans, but let the sub know that he/she can do stuff from the sub tub all or part of the day instead if he/she would like. Anytime I am out unexpectedly, my students show the sub where the Sub Tub is, and he/she already has his/her whole day in it! Anytime a teacher on my hall is out unexpectedly, I take my Sub Tub to them, too.

    I do not leave candy specifically, but in my long, detailed tell-every-single-thing-that-I-do-and-that-various-kids-do-all-day-long schedule, I do let the sub know where I hide my personal stash of candy and where I hide my purse during the day. :)