Substitute Binder

Sunday, October 30, 2016
Hi All -

This post is long overdue. I meant for this post to go up a few weekends ago, but I made some edits to my substitute binder since I first made it. I'm sorry for the delay!

Yesterday was National Cat Day. Cat Stickers for the win!

It takes more work to be absent, just saying. On that note, I decided to make life easier for me by making a substitute binder. This way, it's pre-made and all I have to do is slip an updated lesson plan in that baby and call it a day.

Left: While You Were Out pages for the substitute to fill out.
Right: My lesson plans. Sorry for the awkward censor, it's all I had on hand.
However, setting it up took some time. I researched (okay, Pinterested, ya got me) different types of substitute binders before I finally decided what would make the most sense for an inclusive, co-taught setting. There's just too many options - I had to make a list of what I wanted and then trim it down to what I needed.

Here's a guide to our classroom routines.
Awkward censor #2.
Here's the contents of what's in my binder:

I used dividers to store all the modifications and accommodations for the day.
In addition, I placed them based on my schedule. Easy.

  • Front Flap: Notes to the Teacher
  • Lesson Plan(s)
  • Classroom Procedures
  • Class Roster
  • Class Seating Chart(s)
  • Dividers per each class, with Modified Assignments
    • 8th Grade ELA
    • 6th Grade ELA
    • 7th Grade SCI
    • 7th Grade RES
    • 7th Grade ELA
  • Back Flap: Behavioral Sheets
An example of a modification I left for a student in SCI.
This is his graphic organizer for vocabulary.
It also resembles the powerpoint slide that my co-teacher uses,
so he knows exactly where to look for the information he needs.
Afterwards, he cuts and glues it into his notebook.
His favorite part.

Now, the first question I usually get is: "do you identify each child's disability?" The answer is: Absolutely Not. The wording on my sub plans are usually "[child's name] needs A, B, C." Straight to the point. There's no need for them to know anything else. For example, "Student A needs directions read aloud. Please make sure to check in with him every 10 minutes to ensure work is accurately completed."

SIDE NOTE: There are plenty of teachers who prefer not to request a sub, and their arguments are certainly valid. I usually request a sub because I want that extra body in the room for my co-teacher. That way, at least the sub is keeping an eye out on specific students, while s/he can continue teaching without having to do my job also. It's totally up to you.

SIDE NOTE 2: I decided to use dividers to organize the materials per period. I use to just post-it things in different manila folders, but I always came back to things all over my desk. The dividers make it easy for the sub. It's labelled by grade level and content area. It's also put in the order of the schedule on the lesson plan. I mean, it can't get any easier.

Lets get to heart of it all - what do I leave behind for students? Here's what I left behind for the sub for a recent absence:
  • 8th Grade ELA - students were going to be in a socratic seminar. I totally used the substitute as a data collector. I mean, why not? It's unbiased data collection. I left behind a data tracker with specific things the substitute should be on the look out for during the socratic seminar. That way the substitute is doing something rather than sitting on the side. In addition, she helped me collect data. A win-win situation.
  • 6th Grade ELA - students were locating images that day for a project, while my co-teacher met with them 1:1 to check their writing progress. I couldn't do much here. I left behind a copy of the assignments directions for reference and all the sub had to do was circulate. 
  • 7th Grade SCI - a modified version of the assignment with larger font and simplified directions was left for the student. It was pre-cut and all the student had to do was glue it in on his own. I love that my co-teacher in science has a strict routine, thus, the student knows "what's up." easy peesy lemon squeezy.
  • 7th grade RES - this was a little harder for me since the activity depends on the day. I was absent for one day, so I decided to just leave the accommodations for that day in the divider. However, for multiple days or for emergencies, I'm going to leave all the accommodations/ modifications with small tabs on them (that indicates the day) so the sub can reach for the appropriate one.
  • 7th grade ELA - I like to leave LLI material for the student. The prompts are already in the lesson plan for that book. All I do is make a copy, highlight the prompts, and have the substitute listen to the student read. This way, I'm training the student to become comfortable reading to different adults and the student gets to practice reading out loud the same story we have already worked on together. It's their second chance to read it before I run a running record on them when I return.

I try my best not to leave any type of serious interventions or modifications for the sub to do on their own. It's hard enough being the new person.

SIDE NOTE 3: I left behind some behavioral report sheets for emergencies. I don't expect them to be used, but if they sub ever needs back up, there ya go man!

SIDE NOTE 4: I really want to know that my kiddos were well behaved while I was gone. So I also made some quick "notes to the teacher" for the sub to fill out. Always fun to read to the kids when I get back!

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