Put Together a Substitute Binder and Save Yourself Time Later

Substitute binder set up

If teachers have learned one important lesson from the past year, it’s to always have a plan in place in case you become sick and need a substitute. You can easily prep ahead of time for a sub, so at a moment’s notice, your substitute is ready to go. My favorite way to do this is with a sub binder.

Substitute Binder

Why a SUBSTITUTE binder is essential

A sub binder contains all important information that a substitute would need that you can prep ahead of time. This includes school info, a student list, info on students’ special needs, classroom rules, emergency procedures, how to use technology devices in the classroom, and more. When you need to get a substitute for the day, all you have left to do is provide lesson plans.

As someone who has been in the substitute role before I had been hired as a classroom teacher and after I left the classroom, it made all the difference when a teacher was prepped rather than just handing over minimal plans and no class list. The teachers who had a sub binder or sub tub for me to review before students arrived gave me the confidence I needed in a new classroom with students I had never met before.

Substitute Binder Emergency Page

When I was in the classroom, substitutes would thank me for the thorough information I had provided so that they felt prepared for the day and knew what to expect. You can grab some free sample pages from my Substitute Binder below to help you start your own binder!

Substitute Binder Templates Freebie

Prep ahead of time

Prepping the binder ahead of time can be time-consuming the first time you do it. But don’t let that scare you off – you’ll be thanking yourself for this substitute binder the next time you or your child is sick and you need to take a day off. Here are some tips to help you make the binder prep a little bit easier.

  • I used a half-inch binder and page protectors for the section dividers so that they’d stick out a little more than the info pages.
  • Type up all of the info that you’re able to. The benefit of this is that you can save the file and easily switch out info to update throughout the year or in subsequent years.
  • Don’t be overly specific on info if you don’t need to be, especially if the info will change throughout the year. For example, I worked at a year-round school and we were in different classrooms every 12 weeks. It didn’t make sense for me to provide the room numbers of specific teachers because it changed so often. Instead, I just provided the room numbers of teachers in my grade level so that the substitute could call another teacher if needed.
  • Laminate or use page protectors for pages that you don’t want to be ruined.
  • After your first week of school, revisit your binder to check that everything is accurate if you prepped it before school started.
Substitute Binder Student Information

Must have components

So what should you include in your substitute binder? These are things I included in mine.

  • School Information – school map, main office contact info, other teachers in your grade level, emergency procedures
  • Student Information – class list, student transportation, seating chart, student medical
  • Classroom Information – location of materials, taking attendance, time fillers
  • Class Schedules – daily class schedules, specials, interventions
  • Classroom Procedures – rules and expectations, bathroom and water fountain procedures, recess, dismissal
  • Technology Information – login info, how to use devices, BYOD rules and procedures
Substitute Binder Tech Page

If you’d like pre-made Substitute Binder templates to fill in with your own information, look no further! I have 40 template pages ready for you to customize and print for your sub!

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Substitute Binder Templates | Editable

Planning for a sub has never been easier! Customize your substitute handbook to fit your needs and it will be ready to go year round when it’s time to call for a sub. Having a binder in place in my classroom was a lifesaver year after year!


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