Friday, October 09, 2015

Five for Friday: Substitute Organization Edition

Last week I brought you my tips for how a teacher can stay organized this school year and once again this week I'm linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching for another Five for Friday post.  
This time I'm speaking on how the substitute can keep herself (or himself) organized this school year.
Most of these ideas are ways to get you out the door faster because if your division is anything like the ones I work for you sometimes don't get that phone call early enough (well that and I just like to take my sweet time in the mornings).

So, without further ado...

Get yourself an agenda.

My first few years of substitute teaching I always used an agenda... I have always been in multiple divisions (I think the most I have ever been in is 4... or 5) and having an agenda was a necessity so that I wouldn't double book myself.  My agenda preference had a page for each month for a "month at a glance" kind of deal... that was big enough for me to write the schools that I was in each day.  This made it easier when I got my pay stubs to make sure the number of days they were paying me for was correct.. I even went as far as to colour code each separate division so that I could really just glance at it and see how many days I worked in each division.  But it also needed a couple pages for the weekdays.  On these pages I would write who I was subbing for, where I was subbing, start times, and whether I had outdoor duty.  
Why outdoor duty?  
At most schools teachers either have a day of the week that they always are on duty for or a day of the cycle (and no they don't match up here).  If I wrote it down once all I had to do was flip back in my agenda to know if I would have duty for that teacher.

This year I am not using an agenda and am trying to get by just using the calendar on my phone.  And to be honest with you... it just isn't the same *sigh*

Have a lunch ready to go

... and for the love of everything make sure it isn't a peanut butter sandwich or you'll be eating in your car!
I have a freezer full (okay, currently it isn't actually full... I wish it were!) of already portioned out leftovers that I use for my lunches.  
For the rest of my lunch I always bring the following:
some fruit (I always have apples in the fridge so if I'm in a rush that's what I'll grab)
(Fun Fact: I used to keep a box of these in my filing cabinet.. because who doesn't file away their crackers?)

So I'll just quickly grab those other few items, throw them into a lunch bag and be out the door (the crackers I put in a baggie in my purse because they are the perfect mid morning snack!)

Now, I'm not always on top of things and sometimes my freezer runs low on pre portioned out leftovers (like this week for example).  On these days I'll grab a couple of muffins that I also keep in the freezer.  

I don't believe there is really a good excuse to eat out all the time... I could never see myself doing that no matter how much I was making (money wise) and so 99% of the time I make sure I have something around to bring!

Have what you are going to be wearing ready to go

Given that I'm a substitute teacher it is fairly rare that I'll be in the same school more than a couple times a week... it also isn't always the case that I will work every day in a week.  I'm also okay with wearing something a couple *gasp* sometimes even three times before I wash it.  For these reasons I really only need about 2 outfits/week to wear to work.

at the beginning of each week I pick out 2 outfits (one always involves pants and the other is either a dress or a skirt).  I hang everything that I'll need for that outfit in a certain spot in my closet and wear it that week.  All I need to do in the morning is decide if it is a dress kind of day or a pants kind of day throw it on and I'm set.

These were my options for this week (minus shoes and jewelry which doesn't take long to decide on)

Substitute Teacher Clothes
Of course on this week I was only in 2 schools and worked the full 5 days.  So, needless to say this way doesn't always work as I had to put together a third outfit... but it usually does.

Have a stack of optional books to bring

I've written posts about this before here and here but I always ALWAYS ALWAYS bring a book when I go subbing.  I bring something for me to read (which isn't in the picture below) and a book to read to the students.  If I'm going to be in a grade 5 or higher I'll bring The Book of Awesome (you can even use it to get them to create Awesome Stories).  It is a collection of short stories.  If I'm in a grade below grade 5 I bring a picture book.  Right now, because it is October I bring a Halloween one, usually.  Except, one of the divisions I work for Halloween is a little taboo so I've got a different one there.  
Of course, just like my lunches and the outfits this book selection wasn't enough because the school I was at 3 times this week was in an early years classroom AND it was one that I couldn't bring the Halloween book to AND it was one that I had already read the other book to.  So I grabbed another one from my closet.

I keep this stack of books on a chair right by my door (sometimes I'll even move a book to my car for the week).

Substitute teacher books to bring to class

Have a quick and easy breakfast

I'm not making bacon and eggs any morning I need to work but I definitely wouldn't even consider it if I've gotten a last minute job.  And, once again, I wouldn't dream of spending money and going out to buy an over priced bagel from a fast food place.
For these reasons there are always 2 things I try to have in my place for breakfast.  The first is cereal... this is my go to breakfast on days that I work.  Unfortunately, what is cereal without milk?... although I may always have cereal in my cupboard milk will go bad or I run out and so cereal isn't always an option.
So when my milk supply is no more I always have bagels where else but in my freezer.  I'll just throw half of one of those in the toaster oven and I'm all set!  
(I know, I know - breakfast is supposed to be the most important and biggest meal of your day... mine just get bigger as the day goes on)
My bagel recommendation is for the french toast one... it's delicious and doesn't require cream cheese... because much like the milk that stuff will go bad!

So... substitutes (or former substitutes) what are your tips for being an organized substitute?  Is there anything you do to get yourself out the door faster when you get a late call?  Leave a comment below and let us know!


  1. Great ideas for staying organized! I'm going to be subbing for the first time when we return to the states from being overseas for 2 years. Previously I've always had my own classroom. You mentioned stuff I hadn't even thought of. Thank you!
    Joya :)

  2. I thought this was a great post! I will be sure to share it with friends who are subbing.


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