For the First Time in 26 Years…

I will not be starting the school year on time this year. What a weird feeling. The beginning of the school year is so important for setting the right tone. Those first few weeks are integral because the students get to know your expectations for work and behavior. I was not expecting to be on sick leave during this vital time. But I am still recovering from surgery, and so I’m on sick leave. It’s been a rough and stressful summer to say the least.

I’m glad my principal was able to find a substitute teacher with some teaching experience. But still…I wanted to make sure she had an easy time covering for me in the classroom. I teach AP Language and Composition, English II, English III, and English IV. So much was swirling through my mind. How can the substitute teacher teach novels the way I do? Will her expectations match mine? Will I have to undo all kinds of bad behavior when I return? Much of this is out of my control, but it still doesn’t stop me from worrying.

I was able to prepare some of the sub plans here at home. As most teachers know, preparing sub plans can be quite stressful. I decided that all my students would work on the exact same assignments until my return. This would make things much easier on my sub.

Luckily I created 10 emergency sub plans last year for my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. These are virtually no prep plans. I created 5 plans that need absolutely NO student access to technology. The other 5 plans do require student access to technology. All the substitute teacher has to do is make copies and go. The students can do all their work on the single page assignments. I left notes for the sub to just collect the work as students complete it, and when I get back I’ll sort through everything. I don’t think I will assess everything. Maybe I will ask students to judge for themselves which 2-3 represent their best work.

Here is a list of 10 assignments:

  1. Famous Last Words–a short story writing activity
  2. Nature Poem
  3. Blackout Poetry
  4. Design a New Product–a creative writing activity with art and marketing elements
  5. What’s On Your Mind?–an art-based writing activity.
  6. An Artful Pursuit–See, Think, Wonder based on a chosen painting or artwork
  7. TED Talk 3,2,1
  8. 3,2,1 ACTION!–Commenting on aspects of movies
  9. Photo Ark
  10. World Heritage Sites
  11. Famous Last Words–a short story writing activity
  12. Nature Poem
  13. Blackout Poetry
  14. Design a New Product–a creative writing activity with art and marketing elements
  15. What’s On Your Mind?–an art-based writing activity.

This year, my school has gone to completely standards-based assessing. No more Carnegie units, except for seniors. I was told last year that we will still score and grade as usual for seniors. Interesting choice isn’t it? Hmmmm, I wonder why my school did not want to go completely standards-based for seniors? Well, that’s a political discussion best left for another day.

As for now, I still have 3 weeks to go before I go back to the classroom. Off to PT I go!

If you’re interested in any of the emergency sub plans I mentioned, please check out these links!

Emergency Sub Plans for the ELA Classroom

Emergency Sub Plans for the ELA Classroom Part Two

And why not save $$ and get all 10 in this bundle!?



  1. I am so sorry you could not begin the year and hope your recovery is going well! You’re right…doing sub plans for one day can be stressful, much less for three weeks! I remember when my daughters were sick and I had to stay home with them, being up in the middle of night typing my (detailed) lesson plans to send to the school secretary who I hoped would print them and give to the sub (this was back in the 90s, no Google Drive, etc.) Your emergency sub plans will be a lifesaver for many teachers and students!


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