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Prepared to Improvise: Substitute Teacher Resources

Teachers plan loads and loads of assignments every year. Substitute teachers often feel the pressure of following these plans when they come in to save the day. These saviors are expected to follow the lesson plans, manage the classroom, deal with difficult children, follow building guidelines, etc. I could go on and on! Every substitute teacher knows the awful feeling of trying to implement a lesson they didn't make to a class that just isn't "getting it". How can a good substitute improvise and turn regular old class time into productive time, even when the odds are against them? There are some great substitute teacher resources to help those great substitutes prepare themselves to switch things up!


Tribes by Jeanne Gibbs is an amazing resource for substitute teachers AND teachers to use in their classrooms! She instructs educators on how to create a caring environment that provides a solid foundation for learning. Included is over 150 activities that can be done in one-on-one, small group, and large group settings. Numerous teachers have used these as centers and beginning of the year and social skills activities. Not only are these ideas unique, but they promote team building and self-awareness. These would be WONDERFUL fill-in or substitute activities! This book is available on Amazon for under $25. 

Super Substitute Teachers

Super Substitute Teachers is a website created specifically for substitute teachers. It includes classroom management ideas, interview tips, free printables, and much more! The most valuable section in this case is the Curriculum-Based Activities section. It contains a list, for all grade levels, of activities and games that can easily be customized for any classroom or subject. All of these ideas have the potential to be very engaging, depending on how they are used. Another great section on this website is the Filler Activities section. These are generally less academic centered but are great if a substitute teacher is in a bind!


Pinterest might be an obvious choice for most educators, however there are many boards out there for exclusively for substitute teachers! Pinterest has hundreds of ideas for substitute teachers in hundreds of areas of interest! Some substitute teachers have boards completely dedicated to substitute teaching. This one is worth a look! Pinterest is a handy tool to have in the classroom. Downloading the app, if you have a smart phone, can be a great way to access ideas in seconds. Signing up is free and easy at

Improvising when planned lessons aren't working out is inevitable. These situations can be stressful but can also be easily managed. Preparing to improvise can be easy and valuable to a substitute teacher's ability to maintain a classroom. How have you improvised when things just aren't working out?


photo credit: students-in-class-with-teacher-reading by Ilmicrofono Oggiono

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