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Substitute Lesson Plans

Patrick Said:

Could you advise a new substitute on activities/games to have on hand if students aren't provided enough work?

We Answered:

A substitute in my district uses "one minute mysteries" (there are many books available) and brainteasers to help her transition from one activity to another, and to take up extra time she finds. Kids in grades 3-6 really like this.

It also helps to have some books on hand. Not just any book will do, of course. I think that funny or surprising will win the day for your situation. "Diary of A Worm" is a current favorite with my fourth graders, who also like "Dear Mrs. Larue: Letters from Obedience School" and "The Stinky Cheeseman." Wordless books can also grab students' attention, like "Zoom" or "Flotsam". can help you to make your own custom wordsearchers. If you are in a building several times, you can make one with teacher's names and trivia. There are also mazes that kids like. And is a nice source of all sorts of resources that could help you out.

I think the best way to look at subbing is like doing a show. You have to work the crowd by going around the room, talking to kids and letting them know that you know who they are, shaping student behavior with a constant patter of "Let's see who can get out their yellow folders. Yes! I see yellow folders up at the front. Are there any more out there?..." and other stuff like that. You may also request at one of the schools to spend a day observing in kindergarten or first grade. They do things very differently at these young ages, and it would help to watch someone first. (For example, you may need to consult the bus chart to find out how the children are getting home, help children get their lunches, lead recess games, and so forth!)

And, of course, keep listening for the gossip on who might be pregnant and where the next long-term sub position will be!

Even though I didn't substitute very long (I took a full time job at a daycare center until I found a full-time teaching position), the experience of seeing in other teachers' classrooms was so valuable. So my last piece of advice is to soak up everything--in every classroom, look for what you do want to do and what you don't want to do.

Roger Said:

How can I become a substitute teacher in New York City?

We Answered:

Here are the requirements for teaching or subbing in NYC:

No certificate is offered by New York State specifically for substitute teaching (go to Teacher Regulations Section 80-5.4 Substitute teachers ). Any New York State certificate allows an individual to work as a substitute.

Individuals who do not hold a certificate may teach up to 40 days each year. However, a district may impose local requirements that the individual must meet to be employed as a substitute teacher.

A school district may employ an individual as a substitute teacher in a position held by a teacher who is absent but expected to return. Employment of a substitute teacher does not require a certificate.

There are three categories of substitutes:

Persons holding valid certificates may substitute for any length of time in any area.

Persons without certification but who are preparing to be certified may substitute for any length of time in any area.

Persons without certification and who are not preparing to become certified are limited to a maximum of 40 days per year.

Substitutes employed for long-term absences are expected to hold or be working toward certification in the specific field or area in which they are substituting. For details of the requirement, click on Commissioner's Regulations 80-5.4.

Information Specific to New York City
The New York City Board of Education requires that a substitute teacher hold a substitute license.

Mike Said:

What should I put in a Substitute teacher pack?

We Answered:

Ideally, you should be able to keep a class busy for a day. I've put together a set of resources based on holidays and grouped by age:
K-2 and 3-5. For example, I'm going into a 3rd grade this Friday and taking my Columbus Day stuff, which I might not have to use if the teacher has left good lesson plans. You always need some fillers, though, because kids tend to work more quickly when there's a sub and you don't know their work well enough to tell if they should do it over, or if they've done their best. There are several sites for subs that give ideas and worksheets. Two of my favorites are: and enchantedlearning .com. You do have to pay to get the full use of the sites, but it's very reasonable and will save you lots of money in the long run. has good ideas for art lessons. Other than "filler" sheets, get a box of pencils, a set of whiteboard markers,
some colored pens or pencils, tape, a little stapler, and scissors. These are for YOU not the kids. There SHOULD be supplies in the classroom, but often there are not, or you can't find them. You might want to invest in a couple of videos, and a book of songs/fingerplays/games. You'll learn from every assignment, until you're ready for anything. Oh, and for K-2, buy stickers for good work.
They love getting stickers, and you can buy large quantities of them at stationery stores. Good luck!

Bonnie Said:

Am I OVERPREPARING as a substitute teacher?

We Answered:

Teaching Resources

Experts are bona fide, grade A, 100% REAL PEOPLE. In addition to being real, they’re also NICE. How do we know they are nice? They are nice because they are graciously volunteering their time and BRAINPOWER to answer your questions. The only payment they receive is the satisfaction that comes from helping others and making folks just a little bit smarter.

Fighting Tools
String Search Sites
Search Help Sites……… (GOOD LINKS TO GIVE STUDENTS).………………………………
Hundreds of lesson plans, thousands of links, and tons of other resources, hope you find something useful to help you out.
NC Curriculum Guides
Education World
Teach Net - tools for teachers…

Blue Web'n is an online library of 1800+ outstanding Internet sites categorized by subject and grade
North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching
Learn NC
The Global Schoolhouse…
Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators
School Notes
The Educator's Refence Desk…
Interactive Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles
Math World…
Dr. Math

Kevin, Liverpool, England

The Literacy Web
At this time, you can use the menu features available through the left blue column or the main categories across the top of the page to access information on The Literacy Web.
•Grades K-2
•Grades 3-4
•Grades 5-6
•Grades 7-8
•Grades 9-12
Special Needs
•Adult Education
What's New
Literacy Topics

The Literacy Web Home

TEFL Methodology Index.

Approaches & Methods in Second Language Teaching.……

Good luck.

Kevin, Liverpool, UK.

Ellen Said:

Should I be a Substitute Teacher or Preschool Teacher?

We Answered:

Yes, you can find full time work as a preschool teacher, often with benefits. Most good preschools have a chosen curriculum and provide most of the materials to be used. You would be expected to write your own lesson plans and you would find that there would be more materials you would want to work with that you would have to purchase yourself. (For example, I have a large collection of children's books, music, games, etc. which I take to work and use when I wish to.)

As to choosing whether to teach preschool or continue to work as a substitute, it probably depends on your long-term goals for yourself. If you wish to teach in the public schools, teach El. Ed. or Secondary Ed., or make more money, you will want to continue to sub, as this will give you the experience and exposure you need to get that kind of job. On the other hand, you can't beat the satisfaction of working with young children. You sure won't make big bucks at it, but you'll be satisfied beyond measure!

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