Leaving Your Desk Always Ready for a Substitute Teacher

Fern Smith's Leaving Your Desk Always Ready for a Substitute Teacher 

Organization is the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher! It is the difference between a great teacher and an excellent teacher because you are not wasting your time & energy looking for things!

I leave my desk each day ready for a sub. My husband works midnights and is home during the day, if my 15 y/o son or my 82 y/o Dad is sick, my hubby can be home with them, However, I remember what it was like when one of my children got sick unexpectedly in the middle of the night. I was divorced, and I was teaching BEFORE SCHOOLS USED COMPUTERS & HAD EMAIL, gasp, I know, that World really existed at one time! 
I would be up at 4:00 am writing out sub plans, calling a friend at 6:00 am, driving sick kids to meet my friend halfway, give her the plans and hope for the best! 
Nothing better than learning the hard way! 
Now it takes about 5 minutes at the end of everyday to make sure my desk looks like this....I'm not saying it looks this way EVERY, SINGLE DAY, but I try.

Here is a description of the numbers on the picture.

1. Here is my daily lesson plan, always on my desk so any administrator or county visitor can see it without interrupting my lesson. I keep a second copy on the clipboard while I teach to refer to it, a copy of this template is at the bottom of this post.

2. This is our school's weekly calendar, it lists meetings, fire drills, the resource schedule, etc. This way I don't have to waste time rewriting the dates into my plans!

3. This is my Sub Plans, a terrific notebook for the sub. I've had it for four years now. 

4. This is all the work that is needed for Tuesday! See my blog post Organizing Your Student's Work for the Week! to see how I organize my folder system.

5. Three hole-punch ready when I print my plans or get the weekly calendar. No wasting time looking for it! Right by it is the pen/pencil/paperclip/stickie note holder my daughter made in 1st grade! Everything a sub needs! 

6. Lovely 1980s tape dispenser and stapler right within reach! The stapler says McAllister, my maiden name from before 1991....am I thrifty or what?!?! Every year I look at all those fancy sets of office supplies at Office Max and think, "Nope, I'm good!"

7. My personal reminder, handwritten, no chevron background, no fancy clip art, JOY! {Jesus, Others, Yourself}    

~*~ BEST PART ~*~
When you don't need a sub, you are organized and your next day is so much easier! 
Click on the picture to download an editable Word document of my lesson plans.
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas ~ Helping Teachers One Resource At A Time!


  1. Great post, Fern! Oh, I DO remember those teaching days with no email and the panic that set in when one of my kids were sick. I always left a "generic" dayplan if all else failed, but it was still an ordeal. Now my hubby and I work at the same school, so I just get him to take anything needed. However I've discovered, just as you say, that it's worth the time to be organized - for everyone's sake! And it only took me 20 years to figure that out! : )
    Whimsy Workshop Teaching

    1. I always love when you comment and I get to know you better! How cool that you and your husband are at the same school! Do you commute together? I have friends at my school that do, I think it is so neat!

  2. Thank you for the freebie! I'm always looking for another form to do my plans on. I teach 4 blocks a day... I love the idea of leaving it ready each day for a sub just in case. I carpool with another teacher at my school so we have helped each other out a few times over the past few years. Have a great week!

    1. Thank you, I'm glad you like it! Have a nice week too!

  3. Oh my goodness ... your opening about those 4A.M. lesson plans due to that unexpected sick child and the sole responsibility of being the one to have to stay home being on your shoulders spoke to me in a way only a few people could understand. We sometimes feel like we are the only ones out there in situations such as those and it can feel very overwhelming. Your words helped me in more ways than even the great substitute plans did...although they now give me a huge solution to those unforeseen and unexpected problems. Thank you so much! :)

    1. You are so welcome! Thank you for the comments, there was a time in my life where homework, dinner, bath and bedtime was all one word, because I felt like my nights were homeworkdinnerbathandbedtime....then I would crash only to wake up at 5:30 and start the day alone again. I was exhausted because their Dad never saw them his REQUIRED Wed. nights and every other weekends. I have now been remarried for ten years to the best Dad & Husband in the World and he is really the only Dad they know and love. I share so that people know that this too shall pass!

    2. Hi Fern,

      I love reading your blog! As a first time teacher, your tips have helped tremendously!!

      Thanks again!

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