New Teacher Toolbox: 4 Tips for Effective Sub Plans that will Revolutionize Teaching and Learning When You’re Away from the Classroom

Call me a control freak, but I’m very particular about the whole experience of having a substitute teacher in my room. Being a cross-curricular teacher means I never have a moment to waste. I run lean with extra time and make deliberate choices that lead to efficient learning experiences for students. So when I need to have a sub-either for illness or for a mental health break-do I show a movie? No way! So, if I’m not showing a movie, what is Plan B?

Hyperlink Docs! I like to teach my students to use hyperlink docs while I’m actively teaching. Why? Trying to explain how a hyperlink doc works to a substitute teacher who may not be comfortable with an internet-based activity is not a recipe for success…or for student learning. Recently I launched my first hyperlink doc experience in my sixth grade science classroom, and I was reminded of the importance of practicing for a sub before he/she arrives in your classroom.

Here are 4 keys for creating engaging sub plans:

  1. Keep it simple (stupid)! You’re trying to support students in independent learning. Now is not the time for fancy new, high-tech science simulations.
  2. Design a one-doc experience. Listen, when you’re teaching your students, it’s totally acceptable to have them use a myriad of different platforms and Learning Management Systems (LMS) to submit their work. When you have a sub, have the students type all of their responses and writing samples directly on the hyperlink doc.
  3. Make it engaging! Always start with a hook. Always. It doesn’t matter how tenuous the connection between your learning target and the anchor phenomenon. Make sure to provide a quick and engaging demo, video, reading, or experience to support your students in buying in to the hyperlink doc.
  4. Finally, make sure to post and link everything. Check the links twice! I once spent an afternoon in my car near a warm (and enticing) Florida beach trying to post documents to Google Classroom from my phone. Interrupting your mental health break, and family time? No bueno.

I’m a huge fan of the hyperlink doc for sub plans, which means-Spoiler Alert- hyperlink doc sub plans for middle school science teachers will be arriving soon at my Teachers Pay Teachers store! Make sure to follow me on TPT for updates when those sub plans land.

Click on the link & head on over to Crosswalk Curriculum’s Teachers Pay Teachers store to pick up this Hyperlink Doc Template set for $4. Use these templates to build sub plans for your student-centered classroom.

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