Professional Practice

Use Formatting to Create Easy to Read Sub Plans!

Subbing the semester after I graduated (I was a December grad) gave me a chance to experience lots of different classrooms and see lots of different sub plans.   I was able to find my love of middle schoolers! Yes, I said it, I love those middle years

Throughout my time subbing I noticed what a difference the layout made.  Some sub plans were much easier to read than others and I noticed that it was all about formatting! It was my morning sub routine to read through the plans upon arrival and locate the necessary materials for the day.   I felt prepared and ready for those little cherubs to walk in.  This confidence quickly faded when a student had a question in which I had to refer back to the sub plans for and I could not find what I needed quickly.   I started to see the difference formatting made in that moment.


Use formatting to create easy-to-read sub plans with these five simple steps:


1. Bold and underline the key points.

This helps the information to stand out for when your sub needs to check what time class ends or important information that they need to remember.  Always bold any information that you think your sub might need to refer back to your notes for.

2. Use bullets.

Bullets are a great way to keep each step separate from the next.  This is especially important in the art room when managing supplies.

3. Use numbers.

Place what you would like the students to do in sequential order. This is used as a quick reference guide for your sub.

Then include further details like the ones below:

  1. Sketchbook Entry #3.
  2. Finish sharing about My Brother’s Keeper & Voice to Vision observations.
  3. Use Sketchbook App to create 3 rough draft plans for your final Voice to Vision piece of artwork.

4. Chunk out your class periods.

It helps subs to know approximately how long an activity might take the students.  Let them know what is expected the first five minutes of class, what happens once they have gotten started, and how to end class with cleanup.

Here is an example of the headings you can use:

  • First 5 minutes of class:
  • Once students have settled in:
  • With the remaining class time:

5. USE CAPS when necessary.

If it means that students MUST WRAP UP THEIR CLAY so that it doesn’t dry out, sometimes caps helps to send the importance of your message.

I hope these formatting tips help your next sub find your information in a jiffy!

What tips have you used when writing and formatting sub plans?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Chelsie Meyer

Chelsie Meyer, an art educator, is a former AOEU Writer.

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