Special Education Lesson Plans for Substitute Teachers – If you’ve been in the educational field long enough, you’ve probably heard the saying “It’s more work to take a day off than to go to work sick.” Although we do our best to be at work as much as possible, the reality is that things come up and we will have to take a “sick day” at some point.

As a seasoned special education teacher, on of the best tips I can share is to prep emergency sub plans at the beginning of the year. Having an emergency sub binder with several days' worth of plans is one of the best ways to feel prepared when something unexpected comes up and you have to be away from the classroom.

Please Note: Many special educators – myself included – did not have the option of a substitute teacher. These tips are for anytime something goes awry and another classroom teacher steps in. A common teacher stressor is that we can't possibly take a personal day, but you can and you should!

Sub Plans – Where do you start?

There are a several important things that are helpful for a substitute teacher to have easy access to. I suggest creating a substitute binder (or substitute folder on on your computer) that contains all the information in ONE place.

Here are some ideas of what to include:

  • Student schedules with pull-out or push-in times along with class rosters
  • Daily schedule for grade level/school
  • Emergency plans and procedures: fire drills, lockdown, etc.
  • Class expectations/rules
  • Class roster and emergency contact information for students
  • Any important information about students that will be important for the sub to have in order to effectively run the class (accommodations, behavior plans)

Extra Add-ons (nice to have, but not necessary):

  • Extra positive behavior supports – remember the reward activity you were saving for a rainy day? This is what you were saving it for!
  • Printable student handouts that require zero prep and minimal supplies (student pencil or crayon) – similar to morning work pages
  • Pre-selected lists of students for small groups (who should be together and who should most definitely not)

A Sub Binder sounds great, but what about the actual lesson plans?

Ready for the very best part? I’ve already done the work for you! Here's a five week bundle of special education lesson plans!

Now I really hope you're never away from your students and classroom for five weeks, but just in case…

All you have to do to implement these lesson plans is print, copy and you’re all set!

Special Education Substitute Lesson Plan Bundle

Every lesson follows a routine, however all of the activities are “stand alone” – meaning they aren't dependent upon each other. Feel free to follow the lessons exactly as is, OR mix and match.

Maybe these lesson plans shouldn't be used just for substitute teaching days. These sets are also perfect for those last-minute schedule changes (IEP meeting runs over!) or the day before or after a school break when the last thing on your mind is more lesson prep.

Here's a closer look at why these lesson plans work for those unexpected events:

Predictable Schedule

One of the best things about this bundle is that the lesson plans follow a consistent set of activities. Each day has activities for reading, math, word work, fine motor skills, free choice learning, a movement break, technology and a celebration. If you need to be absent for multiple days or any length of time, your substitute (and students) will know exactly what to expect each day.

Review of Core Skills

Just because you have to be out, it doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. The bundle includes meaningful activities that will allow students to practice crucial skills such as reading comprehension, phonemic awareness and phonics, counting and more. This is not a packet of random busy work!

Built-in Brain Breaks

We know how important it is for students to have breaks throughout the day, which is why “wiggle breaks” and technology activities are included each day. You can easily utilize the movement breaks as often as needed!

Ready to print and prep?

Hi there.

I'm Jennifer!

I’m Jennifer and I was a special educator in the elementary school setting over the past decade. I entered the classroom every day dedicated to making learning inclusive AND engaging.

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