We all want the permanent teacher to like us, so how can we make that happen when we have limited interaction with him/her? One way to do this is to leave an excellent substitute teacher report. 

A substitute teacher report is a necessary communication tool between the substitute and permanent teachers. At the end of each teaching assignment, a substitute teacher should fill out a substitute teacher report for the permanent teacher.

This report should include:

  • An outline of what was and wasn't accomplished on the lesson plan.
  • A list of students who were especially helpful.
  • A note of thanks to the permanent teacher for the opportunity to teach, the great lesson plans left, preparing the students, etc.
  • Any behavior situations that the permanent teacher may need to follow up on.

The substitute teacher report is the only impression (besides what the students say about you and the condition of the classroom) that the permanent teacher will have of you as the substitute teacher. Make sure you leave a really positive and capable impression.

8 Responses

Lee W Reed says:
January 11, 2013, 2:16 AM

I once had a permanent teacher leave me a rather terse note: "Deal with discipline problems on your own. Do not leave me a note that someone misbehaved and expect me to take care of a problem you should have handled." I have tried to take that advice in all my classes ever since.

Mila says:
January 20, 2013, 12:22 PM


A great of piece advice from you(and the teacher too) indeed. I read your post and I'll try to keep it in mind always to avoid any negative responses/interaction from the permanent teacher.Also, it shows that we, substitute teachers are willing and also capable of handling behavioral problems like permanent teachers.

Cynthia says:
April 4, 2013, 6:56 AM

I politely disagree. Wow. In my experience, the children who are in rooms where teachers follow up on discipline problems, have LESS discipline problems in the future for subs. If kids think they can get away with misbehavior or doing things intentionally disruptive - why would they ever stop ? I ignore as much "trivial" behavior as I can - but I let the kids know up front I will be leaving a note about the good AND the bad in the day. I guess it's my opinion, that what a teacher does with my note is up to him or her. But I have always felt it's my responsibility to leave it. I also think it is a sort of "protection" for me to document the day. If there are problems - they are in my note - so the teacher gets MY version before she hears anyone else's. And this can make a BIG difference if there is ever a child who decides he or she wants to cause trouble for you because you didn't let him or her have their way at some point during the day. Document - document - document !!!!

Denise says:
May 6, 2013, 10:12 AM

Well said. As a substitute teacher from grades K-11, I routinely deal with 4-5 different types/strategies of behavior plans. (Ever heard of the Make Your Day system?) At the high school level, few schools leave detention slips for misbehaving students in the Sub Folder anymore, and one of my former favorite schools discontinued cell phone slips. Subs are instructed to note positive and non-compliant behaviors and the returning teachers will deal with the students...this has worked so well that I've treatened to call security or a vice prin. several times, and twice have done so in order to maintain classroom order. I always praise on-task and polite behaviors, and of course, let some of the trivial stuff go, too, or pretend not to see an off-task student if he/she is being quiet. With younger students, I praise and use student examples and privately give some misbehaving kiddos the choice of working in a buddy classroom vs. my sub note recommendation of lunch/recess detention for the following day. I get a lot of call-backs for various schools and teachers...I think any regular teacher who tells the substitute to 'deal with it' hasn't had much/any subbing experience since many of the schools I've visited over the last 5 years expect their students to behave perfectly for the substitute since she/he is a guest in their class and the substitute isn't expected to have to deal with numerous or out of line behavior issues. That being said, a substitute is in the precarious position of outsider in a classroom/school, so must use her best judgement regarding the student(s) behavior and her understanding of behavior policies at a school. So,as Cynthia wrote, document and document - and always ask the teacher next door if you can send a student over, if needed, so he/she can "be more successful with someone he knows" : )

Linda says:
July 5, 2013, 8:08 PM

I have been subbing for five years and I have found that I am considered a partner with the permanent teacher. It is important that I am seen as a "teacher" and not just a "sub." I have been very fortunate to have teachers who see me as an extension of learning that is taking place in their classrooms. I also document, document, document. Not only is it important in letting the teacher know what occurred in the classroom, but I have been told it is an important document if there are continued behavior problems with specific students. Many are being tested and our documentation is important!

MR. B says:
July 11, 2013, 6:37 AM

I think too often subs have a "Wait 'til your father gets home" approach to discipline. While we might think the teacher Lee describes was a bit harsh, I get it. I tend to agree with Linda... we need to partner with the permanent teacher. I also tend to make it clear (every chance I get with both teachers and students) that when I sub I want to teach and that means I'm not just a babysitter. I take full responsibility for what happens in the classroom on my watch, often explaining to the teacher that "your kids are my kids" when I'm assigned to that room. It makes no sense to complain about "my" kids behavior to the permanent teacher. That said, I also don't compete with the permanent teacher... I certainly will document discipline issues, explain what action I took and why but there is a big difference between documenting and complaining. My sub report tends to be about what I did (or didn't do), not how the kids behaved.

Penny says:
September 11, 2013, 2:04 PM

I think the teacher needs to know exactly what happened, leaving out behavioral problems because you don't want to seem weak isn't the answer. I think it's more in how you present it, if you used the "wait til the real teacher comes back" method of discipline, then their regular teacher has every right to be upset with you for making them the bad guy. If you say this happened, I dealt with it like this, and it is up to you whether or not you want to follow up with it; then that is totally acceptable. It's important to remember that the regular classroom teacher put in a lot of time and effort to make their class a place they can be proud of, and they have a personal connection with the students (even the little stinkers). You don't like it when people say negative things about your family or friends, it's the same deal when you are talking about a teacher's students. It's important to hit the high notes, document any disruptions you had with neutrality, and genuinely compliment the teacher on some aspect of their program.

Andrea says:
September 11, 2013, 6:44 PM

I always leave notes throughout lesson plan. I document how things went, i.e.. class did really well with this, or many students seemed to struggle on this activity. This is just to give permanent teacher heads-up on a particular assignment. I note terrific helpers and other important info (absences, anything collected for teacher, nurse visit, whether everyone completed work or not, etc.) I also include anyone who worked hard for me and really followed direction / or behaved awesome. I do include names of those who are off task for most of the day and / or disruptive with an explanation of the steps I took, (i.e. did I move student to another desk, sad face in agenda for younger student, etc.) I'm confident that most teachers do handle the problem student the next day. I've even had those student come and apologize to me the next time they saw me. And on the other hand, I also know teachers reward students that did behave for me. I also make it a habit to bring my own rewards to "auction" off at end of day. Only those who are behaving appropriately and completing assignments will be given opportunity to participate in "auction" on variety of treats. I used to fill out a whole separate form and I found I repeated myself a lot or I would forget things. So now I just make notes as we go along. Much easier and less work at the end of the day!


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