Teacher Hack: Create an Emergency Sub Binder

Create an Emergency Sub Binder

Today, on the blog, I’m sharing one of my favorite teacher hacks and walking you through how to create an emergency sub binder!

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You’ve been there. You wake up with a fever, your child gets a stomach bug in the middle of the night, or you have to leave school to deal with an emergency.

Instantly, panic sets in! 

You didn’t plan to be absent. Nothing is prepared- there are no lesson plans, copies, or notes for the sub. And we all know…the show must go on.

But this year will be different. Why? Because you are going to take action before an emergency presents itself (because….EMERGENCIES DO HAPPEN). You are going to be proactive and create an emergency sub binder.

Create an Emergency Sub Binder

Creating an emergency substitute binder is a great way to ease the anxiety that surrounds an emergency absence. Today, I want to share the process I used to create my binder and give you access to a free sub binder template to help you get started creating your own….because who doesn’t like free printables?

How to prepare your emergency sub binder:

A good emergency sub binder should contain all the useful materials that a guest teacher will need to survive (plus a few extra goodies). To help you get started, let’s run through the all-important features to ensure you don’t miss anything.

#1: Have an easy-to-find location for your binder

As you can see from the photo below, I have my binder displayed so that it can easily be seen by a sub. I keep it behind my desk and have even shared its location with my co-workers (in case they need to help a sub find it).

#2: Include important information and emergency plans

classroom substitute binder

Since I teach high school, I include the following information in my sub binder:

  • a seating chart for each class
  • 3 days worth of emergency plans for each content area that I teach
  • a substitute report card (explained below)
  • a list of helpful teachers and students
  • my daily schedule
  • classroom procedures
  • emergency drill information (fire, tornado, lockdown, etc.)
  • sub coupons (explained below)

Scroll to the bottom of this post to grab your FREE sub binder printable!

#3: Add in a behavior management strategy

good sub behavior

Subs love my “sub report card” and ticket system. It is my SECRET SAUCE when it comes to well behaved students. I use a ticket system in my classroom that doesn’t stop when I am absent. In fact, my students are rewarded when they behave in my absence.

Inside my sub binder, the sub will find a report card for each class period. This is where the sub provides each class with a rating for the day. The class with the highest score gets jolly ranchers when I return. Additionally, I leave “good sub behavior” coupons in my sub kit. The sub has the freedom to reward students (or entire classes) for good behavior.

#4: Leave some goodies for the sub

how to get your students to behave for a sub

I like to leave some fun items for the sub to enjoy. I try to leave mints/gum, hand lotion, hand sanitizer, or a coffee coupon (our media center has a café) so that the sub knows that I appreciate them stepping in during my absence.

Well…that’s it. Four easy steps.

You now have a no-fail plan to a stress-free absence. Use the essentials list above to create your own sub binder. Want the printables that I use to create my sub binder? Enter your email below to have a free EMERGENCY SUB BINDER TEMPLATE sent directly to your inbox.


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    Until next time…. keep being a teacher rock star!

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