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Unsure of Lesson Plans



Hopefully someone can help me out on this. I am currently an unemployed HR and paralegal professional who has decided until my dream job comes along, I am not going to sit around and collect unemployment. I'd rather sub, but I have no experience in front of a classroom of children - only adults. I have never seen what a lesson plan looks like in the K-12 classroom, and all the sites I've reviewed so far suggest just following the lesson plans. I graduated summe cum laude, but if someone put me in front of an algebra class (something I haven't done since 1978), I'm not sure how I'd perform. What do the lesson plans contain? How do you sub in a class that is teaching a subject that you are not proficient in? Thanks for your input!


Senior Member
Good lesson plans will have a schedule, a class list, teacher manuals, what you are to teach and which teacher can answer questions for you. In our school (PK - 8), if a teacher KNOWS he/she will not be in school, plans are left that do not require introducing new material. But you have to keep in mind that obviously, this is not always possible. And what is even worse, some teachers do not bother leaving ANY plans.

I haven't subbed, but I have friends that do, and this is how they deal with it.

*They do not take assignments in MS or HS with subjects they are unfamilar with. If by chance they do, they allow the students to work in pairs or groups of threes. They always leave a note for the teacher explaining that they did that.

*They all have a "sub bag". http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/curr260.shtml

* Most have at least one book with ideas. This site has a lot. You can also get used ones through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. http://www.guest-teacher.com/amazon~locale~us~input_string~substitute+teaching~mode~books.pl

* Most textbooks have plans in them that you can follow. Get there early so you can find everything.

*Believe it or not your biggest challenge will be classroom management. The lesson plans will for the most part be the easiest part of your day.

I know you will get great advise from other subs. I have nothing but respect for subs. It is much harder than having your own classroom in many respects. I also applaud your desire to do something productive with your life while waiting for your dream job.


Just did a class

I just subed a 9th grade class in Algebra.... The teacher had a handout for the class to work on & hand in if they get done.... I looked at the algebra & realized I had forgotten most of what I had learned 45 years ago..!! So I took roll with help from a student & handed out the assignment.... Now most kids will just want to "goof off" with a sub in the room so you have to gain control in a friendly way as you take roll.... I allowed the kids to work in groups (allowed by the teacher).... A few came up to me asking for help so I asked a sharp student to go to the chalk board & work through that problem & tell the class how it is done..... This works real well as the kids get involved in the assignment..... Hope this helps... Bob


good lesson plans

I agree with the other poster.... good lesson plans should contain class list, schedules, and a time by time outline of the assignments.

As far as teaching a subject you are not familiar with.... just fake it (I'm guessing) I haven't came across a subject that I don't know. The teacher should have a teacher edition book, and there are sections that prompt you what to say.

If you don't know about a particular assignment in a math class, try to get the teacher to explain it to you the day before, or ask a more advanced student to help others when they are finished. Listen to how they are explaining it and try it that way.

If you get stuck with something too hard, call another teacher to your room to help. It never hurts to ask.


Most teachers have a planned handout that requires very little from you... I make sure that all of the kids have the assignment & that they start on it right away (put up the cell phones...etc).... I insist in a gentle way that the class be quiet & start on the lesson plan..... I walk the rolls to make sure they have started, this gets you in control of the class & you can then sit down & read your newspaper.... Bob


Senior Member
A lesson plan for kindregarten will look MUCH different than a lesson for seniors. Elementary school, expect to teach. Middle and high school (from what I have heard) expect to have a worksheet or video to show.

Most of the teachers that want things done a certain way will leave you detailed instructions of what and how to do things. Those that don't care if things are done in a specific manner leave less detailed plans.

I've come into elementary classrooms to sub for the day with anything from 4 page lessons detailing what happens when and how to do the lesson to a weekly lesson plan sheet with page numbers to read and discuss and the homework assignments.


Some classes are easier than others....

Yes, I'm not as comfortable teaching physics as I am teaching English, but the teachers know that they may get a sub that is clueless about their "favorite" subject. I've found at the high school level they will leave you assignments to read chapters aloud so that you can learn with the kids, and sometimes a short video with a fill in blank paper so that the kids have to listen to the video otherwise they won't get the lesson. The other day the physics class had a worksheet (I was completely clueless), but the kids were wonderful (11 & 12th grade) and they completed it on their own, then they were assigned a computer assignment to design a catapult so that the rock went several places. They were totally entertained!

Elementary school is great because they usually have scripted lessons, and I can usually figure out how to do the math! Also, if you have time, "around the world" with flash cards is always popular. The kids know how to play it, and will explain their version!

Don't worry about it - the lesson plans are usually pretty easy to follow and the teacher next door probably knows enough about the room that they can help you. As someone else said "The hard part is the classmanagement"