Substitute Teacher Survival Kit

teacher doing activity with class
Cross Country Education
November 20, 2020 10:11 AM (GMT-05:00)
In honor of Substitute Educators Day, established by the National Education Association as part of American Education Week, we’ve assembled a substitute teacher survival kit, complete with our very favorite resources for subs. 
But first…here’s what we think makes substitute teachers so special!
Super substitute teachers help kids feel confident and safe. Subs keep the classroom organized and running effectively. They maintain a sense of calm, continuity, and security for kids when their classroom teachers are out for the short or long term. 
Spectacular substitute teachers make classroom teachers, principals, parents, and staff happy. Teachers, administrators, and parents love knowing their students are in good hands when a skilled, confident professional is in charge. A great sub can put the classroom teacher at ease. When a trusty sub is in charge, teachers know that when they return, their kids won’t be behind, their classroom will be as they left it, and everyone will be ready to dive back in.
Stellar substitute teachers bring individuality and energy to the classroom. We can all remember having fun, creative, energetic subs we were happy to see as kids! Those substitute teachers develop a reputation around the school, and everyone is thrilled to find out they’ll be taking over the class for the day.
Sensational substitute teachers teach! While some subs are able to jump in and teach lessons within subject areas, most are expert in teaching life’s lessons. Kids can learn how to treat adults, support each other, and work as a team with the guidance of an excellent sub.

Top Resources for Substitute Teachers

Here are some of our faves to help you on your way as a substitute teacher. Don’t forget to bookmark the ones you’ll use when you’re on your next assignment.
Substitute Survival: Tools You Can Use, published by Education World, has songs, games, templates, and lesson activities. This site also features tips for being prepared and advice from other subs. You’ll also find links to reading activities, writing worksheets, prompts, and journal topics. Read about how to be professional, how to survive difficult days, and how to make your life as a sub easier.
Good Emergency Lesson Plans… from is an article written for classroom teachers about how to leave emergency lesson plans for their subs. It’s a must-read for substitute teachers, however, because it’s inevitable that you’ll have an assignment and realize the classroom teacher forgot to leave you an emergency lesson plan. Tips include avoiding new concepts and working on familiar ones, turning to the “for further study” questions in the textbook, using TED-ED Talks or Discovery Ed videos, or having students formulate as many questions as possible about a painting, photo, infographic, or other visual.
Funbrain can be an excellent resource for substitute teachers under the right circumstances. It features “hundreds of free interactive games, books, videos, and printables that help kids develop skills in math, reading, problem-solving, and literacy.” The games are for kids in grades Pre-K through 8, and the site is easy to navigate by subject and skill. There are games focused on addition, fractions, vowel sounds, shapes, and more. Be sure Funbrain is approved by the classroom teacher and school system. If not, they may have access to a similar resource your students will love.
Must-Listen Podcasts for Teachers from We Are Teachers has summaries, reviews, and links to several different podcasts. They recommend HMH Learning Moments: Teachers in America, which deals with what life is like for today’s teachers; Book Love podcast, which helps teachers instill a love of reading in students; and The Creative Classroom, which focuses on the growth mindset and project-based learning.
Cross Country Education has many resources substitute teachers will love. We’ve got you covered, from Tips for Supporting Students with ADHD to Bullying Prevention Resources. You will also find a go-to Emergency Lesson Plan and insight from other subs about what they like about being a substitute teacher with Cross Country Education.
We hope these resources are a helpful addition to your substitute teaching toolbox. And if you’re a professional who is considering becoming a substitute teacher, don’t hesitate to dive in. It’s a rewarding job with flexibility and freedom. You’ll be able to try out different schools and grade levels. You won’t have the year-long commitment of long-term teaching assignments and the stress of ongoing lesson plans and grading. Best of all, you’ll get to work with kids!
Check out our substitute teacher jobs now.

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