Emergency Sub Plans

Teaching can be a very demanding job, but it is also a very rewarding job. It is inevitable that in the course of your teaching calendar an emergency will come up and you just can’t go to class.

But then…

It would be unfortunate not to be able to take a day off or if you choose to go to class despite the circumstances.

Emergency sub plans are created to help ease the transition or guide the substitute teacher in your class.

Why Are Emergency Sub Plans Important?

lesson plan caption with clips

Emergency substitute lesson plans assist the sub teacher to be able to run classes smoothly. Some of the information that a sub-plan gives the sub is very important.

For instance, where is the class in various subjects? Which other teachers might be of assistance to the sub? Is there important information to be aware of?

A guest teacher would have a hard time in your class if they had to work without emergency lesson plans for substitute teachers. If you are unable to get back to work, you will have bought the substitute teacher enough time to get on their feet.

An emergency might come up and it is always good to be readily prepared for it.

Activities that are at grade level can be stress-free for the sub teacher to work in your absence.

What Should You Include When Making Your Emergency Sub Plan?

teacher taking a primary school class

When making your emergency sub plan you should try and use your imagination. What kind of information would you need if you were the sub teacher? Which students would be in the classroom?

Answering those questions should help you create an outstanding emergency sub-plan. Some of the information that should be in your sub-plan should include,

School Schedule

This is crucial information that a sub should have access to. Some of the questions that might be going through their minds would be, when does recess begin? When will the students go for lunch? When is school dismissed? Are there any extracurricular activities that I should know about?

Substitute Activities and Lesson Plans

teacher smiling with students in class

Substitute teachers should be aware of what they are teaching for the day. It would also be quite helpful to them if you gave them a few pointers on how they will give guidance to the students throughout the day.

Seating Chart

Knowing each student’s name is important in an emergency sub-plan. A seating chart is vital in establishing the identity of each student in the class. Being able to refer to each of the students by their names ensures that the sub has their full attention.

End of the Day Form

You might want to include the end of the day form in your emergency sub plans. This will help you know how the day progressed. It is easier for the sub teacher to give you that information by filling out the form. It’s an efficient way to debrief the sub teacher.

School Information

There is information that a sub teacher should have. Considering that they are in a new environment. In case of any emergencies or if they require help they should have a sub-plan stocked.

Organized Emergency Sub Plans

Have an Outline

teacher making a outline plan

An outline will help the sub have an easy time implementing your emergency sub-plan.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, it can be just a small list for each day. It can also include the daily lessons that need to be covered.

Include Class Set for Every Printed Worksheet

In case you will not be there, a class set of each printed worksheet should be ready to go. Prepare for the number of students in your class. Each student in the class should get a copy.

Organization by Subject

You should have a different worksheet for each subject. Each worksheet should have the lesson plans for each particular subject. The lessons should be arranged in order. Mixing them up might be confusing.

Create a Sub Tub

A sub tub is an efficient way of arranging your plans. It should include premade lessons, activities, and important class information. You can have a file folder for this.

Alternatively, you can use an accordion folder so that you can have an easier way of separating the subjects.

The important thing is to have a method that works perfectly for you.

Inform your colleagues

It is important to communicate with your colleagues about your sub tub. This will come in handy in your absence because they will be able to point the sub teacher in the right direction in locating them.

Your colleagues might also look out for the sub and offer assistance in case there are some challenges.

Free Emergency Sub Plans

Some numerous blogs and websites offer free emergency sub plans. If you just do not have the time to create your emergency lesson plans or are too sick to even contemplate it, do not panic. Most of the lesson plans are reusable. All you have to do is change the fiction book each time you use them.

Get the free lesson plans off the internet and proceed to make many class sets of copies. Next, choose the fiction books that your students would enjoy. Just do not use them over and over for long because the students will get bored.

Reasons That Can Make You Miss Class

This part highlights the possible reasons why teachers can miss their classes, to bring a stronger impact on why we need Emergency Sub-Plans.

You Fall Sick at the Last Minute

sick woman at home

Waking up sick can happen to anybody. It is tough to have to write emergency lesson plans when you are not feeling well. Instead of going to class in that condition, it’s better to have the sub plans ready in advance.

An Emergency

You can’t know when to expect an emergency. They just happen without prior warning. You need to be prepared for them. It can be an injury or death in the family, or it can be a road accident.

Jury Duty

Yes, jury duty can make you miss class. I know you are already busy as it is and have a lot to do. When it comes to your civic duty you might not have a lot of options. You might need to call in a substitute teacher and emergency lesson plans.

Mental Health Days

Being a teacher is a very demanding job. At times you need to just rest and regroup. A mental health day is great to get your energy back and get your mind back in the game. If you feel you cannot cope with the workload, it’s best to stay home, Teachers do get burnout.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should sub-plans be?

Sub plans shouldn’t be too long. You should not expect the sub to teach new content. Your students have been through the class routine hundreds of times and they should be able to help the sub along. You just need to include the most important instructions to follow.

Does every teacher need a sub plan?

Yes, all teachers do and should have one. You never know when you will be indisposed. When a sub teacher takes over your class for that one day it’s not easy for them. Over time you bond with your students and they bond with each other.

Sub teachers do not have the same bond you have with your students, and they need all the help you can offer them.

Why do I need a substitute teacher?

You will not be able to be there for your students daily no matter how hard you try. Things you haven’t planned for will come up. Without a sub teacher covering for you, there will be problems. Classes will double up, the student’s instructions will be interrupted, and everything in that class will not run at all.


Sometimes teachers do not plan for their off days. You might have a family emergency or you might fall ill. In whichever case, you will need to talk to a sub teacher at very short notice. You might have the intention of creating an emergency sub plan but you keep procrastinating.

It is worth the time to have an emergency sub-plan. You will appreciate having it in case you need to have a day to handle your emergency. Being away from your students can be worrying for most teachers but having a sub-plan can put your mind at ease. You can rest assured that your students will be kept on track.

Last Updated on July 25, 2022 by Emily

Emily/ author of the article

Emily is an active mother of two and a dedicated elementary school teacher. She believes the latest technology has made a huge impact on the quality of early learning and has worked hard to upgrade her classroom and her own children’s learning experience through technology.

Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram for more teaching fun!

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