December 5, 2023

Having to be out of class for appointments, holidays or illness can be stressful! It is in those moments when preparing for a substitute teacher ahead of time can make a big difference!

The importance of preparing for the MDC of the substitute teacher
The importance of preparing for the MDC of the substitute teacher

While there may be times when you know in advance that you will not be in class, there are times when you may need to call in sick unexpectedly. Under these circumstances, do you have a backup plan if a substitute teacher shows up in your classroom?

Whether you’re in a meeting, taking a vacation, or needing to call in sick, it’s essential to provide the substitute teacher with detailed information. Replacement binder is a great option to consider.


Don’t wait until the last minute

When you are a special education teacher, it is important to realize that your classroom needs more attention than other classrooms when it comes to preparing for a substitute teacher. It’s best to plan ahead and make sure your replacement has all the necessary information before you’re gone. In this way, you can be sure that your students will receive the same quality of teaching and support as when you are present.

It’s also important to remember that preparing for a surrogate requires more than just instructions; it’s about giving them as much background knowledge as possible so they can better understand each student’s needs.

Be sure to provide the substitute teacher with documents, checklists, and depending on how long you will be gone, an IEP snapshot for each student in your class. This will help them to be as well prepared as possible for the arrival of students.

Keep your daily schedule the same (even when you’re away)

Sometimes it is tempting for a substitute to use a game or an educational TV show to fill in the classroom time. Although these activities may seem like a good choice, it is better to maintain the same daily schedule.

Students are familiar with the routine each day and it will be easier for the substitute to manage behavior if schedule changes are minimized. This principle applies especially to students with special needs. Students often depend on consistency to maintain expectations for the day. This can be very difficult if something is out of place, leading to behavioral problems and other disruptions that will interfere with lesson plans.

How to build a replacement binder

This binder is designed to provide more information than a few lesson plans and worksheets. The right binder can provide the submitter with a class overview, schedule details, and guidelines for managing student behavior. Here are some ideas for things to include in your binder:

  • Welcome letter
  • Lesson plans along with worksheets or materials needed for students
  • Class schedule, including start times, extracurricular activity locations, etc.
  • Classroom rules and procedures
  • List of students
  • Class seating chart
  • “For Help” with a list of nearby teachers, paratroopers and administration who can offer assistance
  • Daily behavior tracking sheets for students
  • Applicable IEP information such as service plans and 504s
  • Medical concerns, including allergy information
  • End-of-day termination and termination details
  • Emergency protocols for fire, lockout, etc.
  • And more!

Provide an empty area where the substitute can share notes about the day and provide feedback on student progress and behavior. Also think about other useful information to support the substitute teacher. You can never include too much information, especially if you are preparing for a long term sub in class.

If you are installing a spare file, then the easiest solution is to use a pre-prepared spare set of binder. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel when there are tools that can be used to simplify the process!


Making sure your substitute teacher is prepared for the class should be a priority. Compiling a comprehensive and detailed binder is an important part of this preparation as it will provide them with all the information they need to successfully care for and teach your students.

AND pre-prepared spare set of binder can make the process easier, but don’t forget to include any other documents or instructions you think might help provide quality guidance and support while you’re away. With enough advance notice, you can ensure that your students receive the same level of education even if you can’t be there!

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