Teacher Note Help for the Substitute Teacher (page 2)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Oct 14, 2011

Are There any Statements that I Should Avoid in my Note?

Any written document establishes a permanent record. For this reason, even a short teacher note should be constructed to reflect well on both you and the classroom teacher. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to follow these guidelines as you construct the teacher note:

  • Write with humility. Never give the permanent teacher suggestions or tell him or her what you would do in a particular situation. This is simply not your place.
  • Avoid sounding “whiny.” If you had a hard day, remember that for you it was just one bad day. The permanent teacher must face these difficult students daily.
  • Be sure not to include information that is confidential. You can’t be sure who else might see your note and what they might do with the information in it. If you feel uneasy about including a statement or comment about a child, leave it out of your note.

In general, your note should report, not editorialize. Avoid expressing an opinion, particularly if it reflects negatively on the class or the teacher.

Should I Fill out a Substitute Teacher Report Form?

Many teachers leave substitute (sub) folders that include a Substitute Teacher Report Form for you to fill out. It’s been my experience that these forms tend to be superficial and generic, but if one is provided, fill it out. However, be sure to add your own personal comments to the form and add your own note. The form usually looks something like this:

Substitute Teacher Class Report

Substitute Teacher:


Regular Teacher:


Students Absent:

The class: (check all that apply)

Followed rules?

Was courteous and helpful?

Worked hard on assignments?

Other (please explain):

The following students:

Were helpful (explain)

Did something special (explain)

Were disruptive (explain)

The lesson plans were:


Not Completed

The assignments we did not complete were:


What Else Should I Do at the End of the Day?

After your note is written, be sure to clean the board, straighten up the teacher’s desk (try to leave it as you found it), and pick items up off the floor. Usually students will be more than happy to help you with this. Straighten up the student desks also. Most schools like to have the chairs up so that the custodian can sweep the floor easily. Leaving the room in good order is your way of showing that you respect that classroom.


After you’ve completed a day of substitute teaching, it’s only natural to be tired. But before you call it quits for the day, it’s imperative that you take the time to write a teacher note. The teacher note is probably the only way that you’ll actually communicate with the regular classroom teacher, and for that reason, it’s important that you write it with care. The following guidelines will help:

  • Keep your note brief, informative, and positive. Focus on your overall impressions for the day and note any major issues. Always try to begin with a positive comment.
  • Indicate what you’ve accomplished. You should note which planned activities were completed and which were not. Be sure to write about any problems with academic subjects that may necessitate reteaching or reinforcement.
  • Always be discreet. You never know who may glance at your note, either intentionally or by accident.
  • Complete all sub forms that are provided. But be sure to add your own comments.
  • Leave a clean and orderly classroom. When teachers are out for a day or longer, they prefer to come back to an orderly classroom. Leave the classroom just as the regular teacher left it. Have students help you clean the room at the end of the day.

The teacher note is a reflection on you as a professional. It’s your chance to communicate with the full-time classroom teacher. It’s worth spending a little bit of time and thought to do it right.

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