A few years ago (it feels like it was just last month), we lost a teaching colleague to bacterial meningitis. It was sudden and heartbreaking. It was also a wake-up call to the rest of us.
All teachers keep a Sub Folder. It has basic information such as attendance routines, a class list, schedule, other teachers who can provide support, and where to find the coffeepot. With our friend's death, many of us started a new emergency sub folder. We thought, what if we had a car accident on the way to work? What if there was a family emergency? A tornado or fire? How about the possibility of getting stuck with a cancelled flight or being on the other side of a storm front, unable to drive? A sudden unpredictable illness?The possibilities were endless, even frightening, given what we'd just experienced.
Well, a kindred spirit (and companion in grief) suggested we come up with a set of alternate plans that a sub could teach on short notice. I saw the value in her suggestion and grabbed the bull by the horns. Hence was born my Emergency Sub Folder, subtitled "Activities with value for filling time." One folder has 30 copies of several activities: word searches, spelling practice games, and basic math facts. The other has a collection of master copies; the sub would have to make copies, but there is enough to do that he or she could fill a day and keep the kids busy.
The last part of my plan is this: these folders are on top of my file cabinet, next to my desk, labelled in large letters "Mrs. Flowers' Sub folder." An substitute worth his/her salt could walk into my room, find the folders, and teach the day.
I've had these folders for four years (out of thirteen years teaching). It's a little like carrying an umbrella, snow brush, or ice scraper; I hope no one needs to use them, but they're ready. Stumble It!