Preparing Your Classroom for a Guest Teacher

substitute teacher in a classroom

Along with all of the enthusiasm and excitement of the beginning of a new school year, as a teacher, I also had to make lesson plans and create my curriculum plans.

In addition to those, I learned to make substitute plans. Being prepared and ready for any emergency would ensure that my students’ academic needs would be met, even during my absence.

At one of my early professional development sessions when I was a brand new teacher, I learned to refer to substitute teachers in a more positive way. After all, “sub” means below, and an individual who takes over the assigned teacher’s class is not below any one of us!

So, I like to refer to them as guest teachers!

And, here’s what I would do at the beginning of each year to prepare for my guest teachers. Depending on the number of allotted sick and business days (usually, I had nine sick days and three business days), I would have a specific number of folders.

Inside each folder, I would place the following:

  1. Lesson Plan
  2. Roster
  3. Arrival and dismissal procedures
  4. Classroom rules and policies
  5. School policies
  6. List of students who walk, are picked up by parents or take the bus
  7. Fire drill and lock down procedures and maps
  8. Seating charts
  9. Daily and weekly schedule
  10. Special times
  11. Recess and lunch times
  12. My classroom policy on bathroom breaks
  13. Names of students who would get pulled for Resource or other classes and the times
  14. Name, classroom number and telephone number of two buddy teachers
  15. Name, classroom number and telephone number of the department chair
  16. Name and contact information of the school’s secretary and principal
  17. Name and contact information of the school’s custodian
  18. Several sets of learning activities (enrichment or review)

Finally, I would also include a letter to the Guest Teacher:

Dear Guest Teacher,

Thank you for coming in and teaching my students today. Please follow the guidance that is provided in this folder. I’m grateful for your service and dedication. Please leave a detailed account of how everything progressed.


Dr. Gilpatrick

I would place these folders on a shelf clearly marked “Guest Teachers.” Whenever I submitted my weekly lesson plans, I made sure to place a copy in the top folder. That way, if an emergency occurred, and I didn’t have the time to make separate plans, the guest teacher would be able to access the folder and the plans without any problems.

I also made sure that the principal, secretary, buddy teacher(s), department chair and a few reliable and responsible students knew where the folders were located.

In addition to preparing these folders, I regularly reminded my students about the appropriate behavior when a guest teacher visited the class. Everyone knew about my expectations, and the consequences if those were not met.

So, as you go through your program of study, I encourage you to set aside interesting learning experiences in a folder that you can include in your guest teacher folder when you become a teacher of record.

The new school year is here! Continue your Back to School Advance by reading through our other blog posts. Interested in becoming an educator? Learn about the programs at GCU by visiting our website.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.