What a different experience it is between teaching in my own classroom and substitute teaching in someone else's. I am venturing out into the world of substitute teaching these days and am getting a new perspective into the world of subbing.
I have seen rich and full lessons left for subs and I have seen overly simplistic ones. The intent of giving a sub a super simple lesson plan is kind. Teachers don't want to give someone a plan that is beyond the sub's capabilities to teach. However, when I look at some of the lessons I have been left, I know that some are wildly inadequate. Recently, I was given a page out of School Arts magazine about "expressive line." It was a lovely idea, and I have incorporated it into lessons in my own classroom. However, as a stand alone lesson, it was not appropriate for an hour long lesson for 6, 7 and 8 year olds. If I had taught that lesson, I can imagine that even the most engaged kids would have lasted 15 minutes or so. I find it hard to picture the more fidgety kids doing more than a line or two.
What will happen in your class when your students have 45 minutes...or 30....or even 15 minutes left after a lesson? When you set up sub plans, ask yourself if you would teach that same lesson. Ask yourself how long your students would actually be engaged in that activity and what will happen with the extra time left over. Is it really an age appropriate lesson? Leave books and activities for the students to use when they are finished with their work. Leave a dvd player and art videos. Leave books for the sub to read aloud. Prepare for that unencumbered time when problems are prone to occur.
Instead of rushing around at the last minute, why not work now to set up a folder of good lessons or a "sub tub"? Get yourself prepared for that emergency sick day. It doesn't have to take hours and hours to get this together. You can get tons of lesson ideas from this blog. There are tons of Pinterest boards linking to sub plans. If you want fully formed, age appropriate art sub lessons, check out my shop at TeachersPayTeachers.
Be kind to your kids and your subs. Please plan well for them.