Executing a Successful Day with Your Teacher Toolkit


January 16, 2024

It’s no secret that confidence is crucial to having a successful day in the classroom. But as subs, we don’t always feel confident walking into an assignment. Sometimes there is no lesson plan. Sometimes the class is difficult to work with. Sometimes we’re simply not feeling our best.


This is why having a “Teacher Toolkit” is so important. A Teacher Toolkit is a collection of go-to strategies a substitute has in their back pocket. These can include:

  • Warmup activities
  • Attention getters
  • Downtime activities

If you find yourself walking into an assignment you’re unsure of, your tried and true Teacher Toolkit can help turn a stressful day into a successful one.




Warm-Up Activities:

  • Writing Prompt: Put a quote/topic on the board and have students journal about it.
  • Tell Me Something Good: Have students find a friend in the class and tell them something good that happened to them the day prior.
  • Name Tent: Have students create a name tent, writing their name large enough for you to see from the front of the class. Students can then decorate the tent in any way they like. Have them display the tent on the front of their desk during the class.

Attention Getters:

  • The Clap-In: Pick a pattern to clap and have students repeat it back to you. For some added fun, work with students to create a unique clap for their class.
  • Give Me Five: Raise your hand. One by one, students will notice and raise their hands too. Eventually, you’ll have the entire class’ attention. Make this more engaging by timing how long it takes for everyone to raise their hand. Encourage students to beat their last time.  
  • "If You Can Hear Me:" Quietly ask the class “If you can hear me…” followed by a gesture. For example, “If you can hear me, clap once.” Try this one or two more times ("If you can hear me, clap twice") to get everyone's full attention.

Downtime Activities:

  • 20 Questions: Think of a person or object in the classroom. Students will have twenty opportunities to ask yes or no questions to determine what object you are thinking of.
  • Study Cards: Have students create study/vocabulary cards based on topics they are studying. This can be helpful when you have no lesson plan and need to glean the class' understanding.
  • 3-2-1: On a sheet of paper, have students write down three things they learned, two things they would like to learn more about, and one question they still have.