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New Substitute--Need Advice


New Member
Hello all. I'm a new high school sub (haven't even had my first day yet). I just need some advice on how to get some easy backup lesson plans in case the teacher doesn't leave any or they are misplaced. I don't really have time to develop my own lesson plans right now. I'm sure the worst thing I could do is have no plan whatsoever. Is there somewhere good (preferably free and online) I could find plans?

Also, I'm only 25. Have any of you younger substitutes had problems with respect?

Any resources you could point me to would be appreciated. I like doing a good job at whatever I do, so I'm a bit nervous.


Senior Member

First, welcome to subbing. You're a high school sub, so my only experience with that was when I was in high school myself. :D

Seriously, my suggestion would be to be firm bordering on strict right from the get go. You are not their friend. Don't tolerate misbehavior. If they are good, then you can relax your strictness.

If you are concerned with being too close in age, dress older. Pull your hair back (if you are female) and dress professionally. I am sure you will be fine. ;) I am your age and I sub in elementary only, my age has only helped me there.

As for lesson plans, here are just a few of the sites I used during student teaching and now as a sub. Hopefully you can find something useful.

The Lesson Plans Page
A to Z Teacher Stuff
Lesson Plans Search

Lesson Planz
The Teacher's Corner
ABCTeach - Probably a little young for your age group

I found most of these by simply searching for "lesson plans". Good luck! :rolleyes:


You can expect plans

In my districts, teachers are expected to leave plans. If you to into a classroom and see no plans, notify the office immediately. They will scramble, but they will come up with something. If the office is slow to respond, try checking with neighboring teachers who teach the same or similar subjects. Most of them are very willing to help.

I do have an assortment of games, brain teasers, and filler activities that I use to fill time if necessary. However, I use these mostly in elementary and middle school. I've found that high school students--with a few exceptions--really have no use for a sub's games or activities.

a teacher


Yes, I agree with the above poster. Sub plans and activities don't quite cut the mustard with high-schoolers. And when they see a sub, they know they aren't going to do anything meaningful that day. A few times I thought I was going to be teaching English and I got Chemistry!!! OK.... a bag of tricks doesn't work unless your a mad scientist type. With HS, they usually leave plans as it is simply to hard to "wing it." If they don't you have to notify someone, another teacher, the office, whoever. If nothing else, one of the other teachers probably has an appropriate video to pop in. Seriously, when I did HS (which was rare by choice-thank goodness) I didn't need anything with me but my car keys and a lunch. As for the age thing, dress professionally and act professionally and most often, they will respect you. Don't be a "friend" but do have a sense of humor with them. Discipline can also be an issue as there are no color changes in HS! :) If you figure out how to discipline High Schoolers, please let me know. I subbed for a 1st or 2nd grade one day one time and then HS the next and I am usually great at adapting but I lost my head and told these seniors to get in a line to go out to the hall!! They looked at me like I lost my mind! Later, I laughed about it- if you want to sub, you GOT TO laugh at yourself. And believe you me, there will be plenty of opportunities where you just need to laugh-or else you will crumble. Best of Luck!!


New Member
High School

I'm a new sub, but from my experience in high school is offer them respect and they will give it back. I will say please and thankyou, if they don't respond to the request the first time just stand your ground look them in the eye and repeat the request with the emphasis on please. I've never had to do it more than 3 times, and they caved. By the third time my please could freeze fire.
Only once did I not have lesson plans, and that was physics, probibly my worst subject. An other teacher helped me with the intro course, and the advanced class worked on their own for the first half of the class and the last half they got restless so we ended up inventing a lab experiment involving balloons.
Here the high schools are running on blocks, so there is only 4-5 classes in a day, but run 75 to 80 minutes long.


New Member
First Day, Tomorrow!

Well, tomorrow is my first day. I'll be subbing for an English teacher. Luckily, a friend from church teaches English at the same school (though she teaches for an Acadamies program, so she may not be in the same hall). I just found out that the packet they gave me misinformed me. The packet SAYS I have to have my own backup lesson plans, but the substitute coordinator for the district said "not so!" and basically told me the same things you all said (they will provide a backup plan, video, etc.). I hope I do well. My husband keeps saying how much I'm going to suffer, which kind of gets me stressed out. I guess I'm a bit naive, because I was in AP/honors classes in high school, so none of us were ever mean to the subs. We were excited for the day off to catch up on backlogged homework and such. Maybe I'll get lucky and have that sort of class for my first day. I can always hope up until 8:00 am tomorrow, right?


Me too.

I'm in the same boat as you. Except that I am only 21. I am only going to sub K-5, possibly 6 if I had to. There's no way that I could sub HS. I would only be 3 years older that some of the students. I have collected several brain teasers and riddles, and I have many different games that I can fall back on if all else fails. And I have a variety of lesson plans that I have gathered over the past couple of months (I have been preparing to be a sub). I have found every one of my ideas and plans just by doing searches.
I do have some sound advice that I have found on the internet. Don't let the students see you faulter. If you don't know the answer to a question that a student asks you, say "What do you think?" and start a class discussion about it. Don't call them kids, if you call them kids they will act like it. Call them students, and they will act more mature. Make up your own substitute form, some schools may not provide them. In it list all the work you finished for the day, and tell any fire drills, or tornado drills that were performed, or any other information that is important for the teacher. Be sure to write the date of the class, your name, and the numbers you can be reached at, the teacher will be impressed. Don't let other mean or discouraging teachers get you down. After all, it's not about them, it's all about the students.
Keep hand sanitizer, headache medicine, change for vending machines, white out, sticky note pads, and extra paper, and pencils in a bag with you. And anything else you think you might need.
Hope that I was of some help!! Thanks!!

New sub

I appreciated the list of items to bring.

I recently signed up to sub and am awaiting my first call. I related to the person whose husband was leery about the idea. Not only is my husband dubious, but so am I.

The first day will be the hardest for me. I am not a good spur-of-the-moment type thinker.

One thing I did do was to put a set of clothes together in my closet so that I don't have to think about what to wear when I get that first call.



welcome to the club

I am a new sub myself. I have about 45 days under my belt. I prefer the HS kids, then middle schoolers, and am absolutely afraid of elementary kids (I don’t think I can keep their attention all day). Here is what has worked for me.

Talk slow, clear, and brief. I tell them "I do not yell", and then I begin speaking. Usually there are a few kids that will shush the crowd. This is, of course, the ideal situation. If you have to yell, keep it brief…like one to two words. I tried the light thing in HS and had the entire class begin to scream; first the girls started in, then the guys.

Avoid talking down to them; they are in a difficult age. I know I wanted respect when I was in HS.

I personally have lax rules, but I never detract from the class’s rules. If the teacher has a rule, do not allow them to repeal it!

Follow the lesson plan, which will usually just be an assignment that has to be written on the board.

Stay out of their way once you set them on task. There is nothing more annoying to a student in HS than a know-it-all sub coming in and expecting miracles in 42 minutes. They do not know your teaching style, or your mannerisms, and it would be foolhardy to think that they could adapt to you so quickly.

Finally, unless they are testing, they are going to talk. You have to show them what you consider to be too loud.

Oh yea, the bathroom. You must find out the bathroom/pass procedures for your school at the beginning of your day. They will find any weakness and exploit it. They are looking to get away with murder if you allow them. Thankfully, I was a sneaky kid, so I can see through their lies; and yes they all lie about the most trivial of things.

Ms. Melissa

Subbing is something that only get easier with time. I have been subbing for 2 years and I still get a little nervous every day. You just never know what is going to happen and there is no way really know what will happen. I suggest bring a few back up lessons/activities but other than that just relax and it will come naturally to you. As far as the age thing goes...I am 24 and I look about 16 kids ask me all the time if I am in high school and if I am married, ect. It can be distracting at the beginning of the day, but I address it and move on. I suggest you do the same. I think that is it important to let the kids know the you are a TEACHER, not a helper or a student teacher. Once they know that you should be fine. Also, share your wisdom with the high school. Kids that age are interested in going to college and career choices, so lend them your knowledge.


Hi! My name is Parisa and I am a 23 yr. old highschool sub.. I have had a GREAT experience with the kids. They are not disrespectful whatsoever. I always read them my personal contract and they sign it, i tell them what we will be doing and the benefits of what will happen when they finish. I always do trivia and riddles with them after we have finished assignments...they LOVE this. If there is no lesson plan, like today, I make an assignment...i.e. for biology, I told them to define 10 vocab words in the chapter, then make a word search with those words, and switch with a neighbor...after they finished, we hung out and did some riddles. Don't be afraid of just hanging out for a little bit, sometimes they need a break from their daily routine. In my view, as long as they are respectful and finish their assignments, they can change up their routine a little bit. Whatever you do, do not be mean and yell at them, they will NOT listen to you, just be very relaxed and nice. GOOD LUCK!
P.S. Because you are young, they really look up to you and want to know about the college you went to, how you were like in highschool, why you are such a young teacher, etc. (don't be afraid to talk about yourself)


New Member
Survival Skills for the Substitute

Excellent replies!
This one is somewhat controversial, but worked in areas that for many reasons, I knew would be tough. I would pick up quickly who were the, "Movers and Shakers", I would identify them as they came toward the room. This seemed to be pretty easy as I stood in the hall, close to my door as they passed by me at the entrance.
They would be the ones that were leaders, by way of their size, gaite, the ones that the followers would report to. Watch the official messengers report to a person that walks down the hall like some mafia don. They will have a entourage of a couple of younger girls and some boy followers.
Make eye contact and have a nice conversation with this person before they pass by you. Even if a line develops while you converse. And don't let them pass by as you talk. This shows your power and respects his or hers. Now, every move you make for the next 45 minutes or so move and present yourself as a god, and show the connection you have made with the ones you have picked out. Remember, all you have to do is survive this period. The word will pass through the halls that you are not to be messed with or intimidated.
On one occiation the principal came to the door and asked out loud for a student that was in trouble. The student moved his chair back and moved toward the door. When he was just about to the door, I said, "Excuse me, go back and quietly push your chair back under the table". This sends a message to every student, every child that would hear from the gossip, and the principle that may one day be interviewing you.
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