Confessions of a Kodály Music Teacher

The Dreaded Sub Plans

Posted on: April 4, 2012

I woke up Monday morning with the worst migraine, congestion, and allergy junk imaginable.  Needless to say, there was no way I was going to teach.  So, at 6:15am, I put in my sub request on Aesop (our online absence and substitute management system), drive 20 minutes to school, write sub plans, and drive 20 minutes back home.  Stupid, I know.  Why did I drive to school when I wasn’t planning to be at school?  Well, because I don’t have emergency sub plans that go beyond class lists and schedules.  After this drive, I decided this was the LAST time I would ever have to drive to work when I’m sick at the last minute.

Granted, I already have a folder on file in our main office that contains a basic schedule for the day, class lists (probably outdated at this point in the year), medical concern sheets for the most severe needs in the building, emergency drills, and how to operate the computer/smart board/stereo system setup.  Standard, yes.  Extremely useful for a sub, not at all – especially considering that there are only about 3 trained music subs in my district.

Along with my folder, I do have a dishtub labeled “Sub Tub” on a shelf near my desk.  In it I do keep some backup materials (Fantasia 2000 VHS, Lomax the Hound of Music DVD’s) and will fill it, for planned absences, with my plans, teacher editions bookmarked and ready to go, and directions for instruments IF I’m leaving any in my absence.

So the question is, how can I make my ‘Sub Tub’ more beneficial for ME when I’m absent unexpectedly?  And, how do I make sure that there are activities for both a music-trained sub (long-shot) and a non music-trained sub (way more likely)?

My answer – a binder with games all students in a grade level know and can play with little teacher interaction, instructions for Music Ace Maestro (which can be accessed from my student computer login on the SmartBoard) and a handful of DVD’s that are only for use when there is a substitute.

For the 2012-2013 school year, I plan to take the first 3-4 class periods and teach a handful of “fun,” but educational, music games that students can play whether I am present or not.  Instructions for those games will be placed in a binder, tabbed by grade level, and that binder placed in the “Sub Tub.”  Most of these games will also be used sometime during the year to prepare or present a concept – double win!  Also included will be computer login instructions and audio files, in a computer desktop folder, of me reviewing the songs for students (all the sub will have to do is double-click on the song title and students will hear me reteaching the song just how I would if I were present – it freaks students out when I use this.  Subs have told me that the kids look around the room trying to find me and ask where I’m hiding.).


2 Responses to "The Dreaded Sub Plans"

[…] I also found this blog about writing music sub plans: Both offered great ideas about putting together sub plans, so I decided it was finally time to get […]

Great ideas! I just wrote a post about sub plans inspired by this post. 🙂 You can read it at Thanks for the inspiration!

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