How to Take a Sick Day without the Stress

If there’s one thing that proves how essential we are as teachers, it’s the fact that taking a sick day is almost like asking an orchestra to play without its conductor.

We are so busy that we barely have enough time to get our plans together for the days we’re there, never mind time to think about the days we’re not!

Luckily, we have some really great substitute teachers out there that are willing to step up. But, they still rely on your help to get the most out of the day for your students.

Here are some tips to help skip the stress (and the guilt) of taking sick days:

1. Keep a Sub Binder- Keep a sub binder on your desk with all the information that they will need, such as class lists, seating charts, emergency procedures, etc. You’ll feel better knowing it’s accessible to your sub. Plus, if you have a messy desk- ahem, organized chaos- you won’t need to worry about your sub going on a hunt for these essentials through the heaping piles. As long as the binder has a special spot, you won’t sweat the state of your desk.

2. Don’t feel guilty- you need to take care of yourself- Can I get an amen? If you’re not rested, you can’t do your job well. How many times have you been a “trooper” and “toughed it out”, only to take the next day off, anyhow? Or when you’re sick through the weekend instead because you didn’t want to stay home on Friday? It’s OK to take care of you.

3. Don’t compare– Don’t despair just because Donna and Dave have four thousand sick days saved up.  It’s not a competition to see who can come out on top at the end of the year- it’s more important that you come out healthy and happy. Classrooms can have more germs than doctors’ offices- they give you those sick days for a reason.

4. Choose sub plans that aren’t too short- If you give your students a short reading article that they can complete in fewer than fifteen minutes, then all that extra time may encourage rowdy behavior for your sub.

5. Buddy up with another co-worker- If you need to email someone for any reason during a sick day or need someone to help you with your sub, choose a reliable coworker who is willing to help you out in exchange for your services when they’re out!

6. Have at least one set of sub plans printed and ready to go before the students’ first day of school. Whether it’s this summer’s project or you’re headed over to TpT- go score some sub plans so that you don’t have to worry about scrambling. Have them ready to go so you can fully rest. And if you haven’t done this yet- better late than never!

7. Worried students won’t work hard while you’re out? – You can have a policy that you will grade one page of the assignment at random (but they won’t know which one). This saves you time and keeps the kiddos on their toes.

8.Prepare valuable sub plans– sub plans that incorporate literacy skills and practice for your discipline are valuable! My sub plans focus on science literacy (including graphing and analysis skills). You want to choose content that enforces these skills because you never know when you might have an emergency absence.

You can score some valuable sub plans today and be prepared. Science teachers get a free copy of my A Closer Look at Cancer sub plan by signing up for my newsletter here:

English teachers check out this video Edgar Allen Poe Sub Plan offered by Laura Randazzo. English and Social Studies teachers- Laura offers a free information text sub plan about the 10 Supreme Court Cases Every Student Should Know. 

Health and Phys Ed teachers should check out this great lesson about The Dangers of Energy Drinks by Mrs. S!

And finally, teachers of any subject, Mrs. S. offers Motivating Articles for any Middle or High School Class that appeal to teenage struggles- and Laura offers Billions in Change Video Sub Plan to raise awareness on global citizenship.


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