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How to be an Effective Educator While Taking a Day Off

Do you ever feel guilty when you need to take a day off? I did.

It was more work to create sub plans than it was to muster up the energy to come in to teach when I was under the weather. Plus, when it came to planning for an absence, gathering materials and writing out specific instructions was tedious. I loved when I had student teachers because I knew they had the inside scoop on how things ran in the classroom and were able to smoothly transition as the leader in my absence.

But the truth is, when I was running low on energy whether I was sick or burnt out, I was of no use to my kids. I had to start being okay taking myself out of the game and knowing that my kids were in good hands because I prepared instruction that was quality in my absence.

My students enjoyed having a substitute teacher- first because they thought they got to run the show, but over time they learned that they couldn’t get away with anything different than if I were there and simply enjoyed having a new person in the room for the day. My substitute teachers would always say how much my kiddos stepped up to the plate to help out and make sure the day ran just as if I were there. That student ownership made me proud and took the pressure off trying to be there every day. Although I was not out often, when I was, I knew it was going to be alright- for my kiddos and myself.

Over the years, I started putting together systems for creating sub plans so that it took less time and included all the necessary information. I then took those systems and created a sub folder filled with master copies where I could reach for it in a time of need and within minutes be ready to take a relaxing day off. These items are now combined into one product called “Sub Folder” in my TpT store.

This Sub folder is available in paper format as well as digital and editable:

– FAQ page

– List of Items to Include in Sub Folder

– List of Items to Include in “Emergency Sub Folder”

– Printables: student roster, class rules, emergency drill info, student dismissal info, notes from sub,  folder covers, section dividers, IEP roster, notes, schedule, and helpful students

Your substitute teacher will thank you for an organized and informative folder and you will have peace of mind that all is well in the classroom while you are out.

Being effective is not about you putting on a show.

You don’t necessarily need to be in the room for that to happen if you have planned well in advance.

So take a breath, acknowledge that you need a break and that is okay, then start planning the day from start to finish filled with rigorous opportunities for your students to grow. Being rested is of more benefit to your kiddos than pushing through at half speed.


See What the Buyers are Saying:

  • On  August 7, 2015,  Julie O. said: “Amazing! Can’t wait to use it this year!”
  • On  September 7, 2015,  Jackie V. said: “Great!”
  • On  October 25, 2015,  Valerie M. said: “Very helpful for a first year teacher.”
  • On  February 17, 2016, MBR  said: “Great Resource”
  • On  August 14, 2016, Rebecca G. said: “This makes my life so much easier. Thank you.”
  • On  September 27, 2016,  Paige H. said: “Good resources!”


What resource would you want to have in a sub folder?

About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.