No Lesson Plans: What You Can Do As a Substitute Teacher

No Lesson Plans: What You Can Do As a Substitute Teacher

Are you a substitute teacher?

Are you a substitute teacher? Becoming a substitute teacher can be an enormous opportunity for you to get to know the students, fellow teachers, and administrators who will all influence whether or not you get a full-time teaching job. However, there are numerous challenges a substitute teacher must overcome that a regular teacher might not. So, what can you do when the regular teacher doesn’t leave behind a solid lesson plan? Let’s find out.

Come in Earlier

Teachers typically arrive at school long before the students do. They also, in turn, stay longer even after the final bell rings, signaling the end of the day. As a substitute teacher, it’s a smart move to come in earlier. Coming in earlier will give you more time to acclimate to the daily routine, especially if you are new to the school. You will have more time to review any lesson plans that are still there and find all the materials you may need for that day. If there aren’t any plans, or if you can’t understand them, you may need to create lesson plans yourself. By showing up early, you’ll have more time to do this without having to rush through it.

Consult Other Teachers

As part of your preparations, you should consult with other teachers in your department. Even if they are farther ahead in the curriculum, the other teachers might have some spare materials they can lend you. It may just be that one particular day there is next to nothing planned, but on other days more concrete lesson plans are available. This situation might be the case if you are stepping in as a long-term sub. By talking to the other teachers in your hall, they can tell you what the class was working on and give you advice on how to keep that momentum going.

Talk to the Students

Although this piece of advice may sound strange, you can also talk to the students. Now, you shouldn’t expect them to give you all the information you need to create an extensive lesson plan. Even so, they can provide you with context for what the regular teacher was doing, and help you understand anything that seems unclear to you.


Don’t forget to communicate with the regular teacher! If you had to alter or modify what was planned for the day, it’s best if you leave a note behind on their desk. You might not be able to communicate with them via text or email, and they’ll probably see a note left on their desk when they come back.

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