How To Create a “Leave” Binder

Leaving the classroom with a substitute teacher can be stressful. Being sure that all necessary materials are there as well as an easy-to-read plan for the day are crucial. I rely heavily on my team when I am gone and I know they take charge when they need to. However, being gone for maternity leave or any other leave of absence comes with its own challenges. Not working and not being in charge can be hard for many. What eased my mind when I went on maternity leave was the binder that I had created for my long-term substitute teacher. I felt okay going on leave knowing that anything they may have needed to know would be in there. In this post, I will share everything that I included and how to make it individualized.

The binder that I left was organized with tabs so that anyone could quickly find the information that they were looking for. My opening letter reminded the classroom team and the long term substitute that they were not trying to be me while I was gone. I left some words of encouragement and recommended that they make this classroom their own. They were bringing in a new personality and love for teaching children that I wanted them to feel comfortable to be themselves. This, I was hoping, helped ease some nerves coming into a fully functioning classroom team. 

After the welcoming letter was a document that held any user names or passwords they would need. I changed all of the passwords to a generic “longterm” password as not to expose my passwords. After that was the building meeting schedule. My sub would be required to meet and participate in all staff, classroom, and PLC meetings on my behalf, and also so they knew what was happening while they were there. 

The next tab was the classroom information. This housed:

  • Class roster (students and classroom team)
  • Bathroom needs
  • Daily schedule
  • Individual schedules and how to implement them
  • Arrival and dismissal procedures
  • Supports and accommodations any learner benefited from during large group activities. These included a cube chair, chewie, fidget, movement cushion, weighted vest, pressure vest, headphones, or  close proximity to the teacher. Having access to this would help the team set up quickly.
  • Internal sub list. Internal subbing is used when there is no classroom sub. The class would split into the other classrooms being sure to keep under the requried ratio.
  • Related service schedules.

The next tab reviewed lesson planning procedures and supports. I first shared a generic cub plan document that I had put together for the first few days. I wrote a note on it reminding the team that after that, it was the sub’s job to create and implement lesson plans. I shared a document explaining the planning process that I had and who to contact if they needed help or ideas. I also attached the pacing guide for the school so that the information needed to be covered each week was accessible and easy to find. I also typed out instructional resources that we had available. I left planning binders and teaching resources next to the leave binder for them to take ideas from. I also wrote out where they could find my themed bins, toys, books, and other materials for 1:1, small groups, circle times, music, math, literacy, etc. 

The following tab was all student specific information. This included:

  • Explanations of behavior interventions such as visual behavior cards, planned ignoring, break chair, positive reinforcement ideas, and behavior plans.
    • Student specific behavior plans were attached and highlighted were the behavior definitions, proactive strategies, and reactive strategies for the long term sub to study and really get to know. 
  • I created a worksheet about PECS (picture exchange communication system). I included scripts and a flow chart in order to help train them if this was something they had never implemented before. I also listed our learners who used this system to communicate as well as which phase they were on.   
  • An annual review checklist was included as well as the annual review agenda. These were tips and tricks on how to use our software for writing an IEP as well as how to run the meetings. The agenda that I included listed what needed to be done a month before, a week before, two days before, during the meeting, and after the meeting
  • I also left specific examples on how to take data on our learner’s IEP goals, alternate curriculum, and the general education curriculum that were being implemented within the classroom.
    • I attached step by step directions on how to enter data and print reports. 
    • I also attached sample IEPs and progress reports from both curriculum so that the team had examples to review.  

Lastly, I shared some miscellaneous content that the sub would be in charge of. We had monthly parent involvement days where the families had an opportunity to come into the classroom. The dates and themes for these were all listed as well as directions on how to run the classroom during these times. I typed out procedures for family/teacher conferences and what a typical day and meeting looked like. I attached a calendar that listed the dates of the quarters ending, when IEP benchmarks were due and sent home, and when the progress report data was due. 

Although my leave binder was due to a maternity leave, this information could be useful for an long term leave someone might have. We had great reviews on the binder and the details that were included. I wanted to be sure that I had everything covered and that the teacher covering my leave knew that even though I was away, I was there for support. My classroom team did an amazing job welcoming the sub teacher and helping them make a classroom of their own while still giving all of our learners the consistency and predictability they needed. 

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