5 Things to Do Before You Take a Day Off
5 Things to Do Before You Take a Day Off Blog Post from Jooya Teaching Resources.

There’s something weird about teachers, no matter how sick they are, they will always go to work! Teachers have this strange way of thinking that it is easier to go to work sick rather than having to deal with the consequences of taking a day off. I know that I have personally gone to work so sick with the flu, and could barely function, but did so because I did not want the hassle of the mess left behind if I took a day off to get well. But, no teacher should feel that way! We should all feel OK about leaving our classes for a day or two to get better. I learned a long time ago that it was so important to have my own Music Sub Tub ready for when I was away, and in this post, I want to help you create your own.

The benefits of creating a Music Sub Tub for your classes will certainly outweigh any time that you spend collating it. Years ago, I mean in 2005, so a long time ago, my then Head Teacher (head of the faculty) set aside a whole Faculty Meeting for the staff to collate our own resources for those times that we might have to call in sick. At first, I thought it was a strange request, but I soon realised it was a blessing in disguise. Later that year, my colleague, the other Music Teacher, had to take an extended amount of time off from school, and I was so glad he had a set of resources that we could use with each of his classes to keep them going. It was a relief to my Head teacher as well, it only took him a few minutes at the beginning of the day to plan the days’ worth of lessons for the substitute teacher to use. It was also much easier on the substitute, mostly because they were not Music Teachers, and the lessons were often Literacy based and anyone could teach them.

Below are a few things for you to consider when creating and collating resources for your own Music Sub Tub.

5 Things to Do Before You Take a Day Off Blog Post from Jooya Teaching Resources. .

What’s in Your Programs?

The first thing you must do before creating and setting up your own Music Sub Tub is to know what you are teaching to each class and when. I suggest that you create a very basic Topic/Term/Semester table with each of your classes. This year I teach three different classes – three Year 7’s who all do the same program, a mixed grade class of Year 9’s and 10’s, and Year 12. Below is a copy of my overview for the Year. You will find it much easier to break down what you teach to your own classes in order to set up resources that will be relevant for students to complete if you are away. You can grab a copy of this blank table here.


After you have worked out what you teach and when, it is time to find some resources that will accompany those units of work. When I look for resources to put into my own Music Sub Tub, well actually I use a folder, I think of activities that any teacher would feel comfortable using for the lesson. I try to avoid too many “busy work” type activities like Find-a-words and colouring in, but these are good to have as back up for early finishers. You might also like to consider what resources or technology you have available in your class or school. I am lucky that I have 8 computers in my classroom set up for student use. This means that my students can use them to complete research based activities, or even do some composing using some free programs out there like Incredibox.

When you are looking for resources that can be completed while you are away, keep these questions in mind.

  1. Is this resource too easy or too hard for my average student to complete?
  2. Does this resource use too many subject specific terms that non-Music teachers will find difficult to understand?
  3. Will this resource be engaging for my students to complete?
  4. Are there enough resources in the classroom to complete the activity – glue sticks, scissors, pencils, rulers, etc…?
  5. Will the substitute teacher have access to the equipment they need to help the students complete the activity?
  6. Will this activity require students to move about the room? Is this a good thing?
  7. Will the activity take enough time to complete in the lesson?
  8. What activities could be used as back up or for early finishers?


Now that you have planned your topics, and collected resources, it’s time to put them together in a manner that is easy to find and use by the Substitute teacher. I like to put all of my own resources in a folder. I have each class separated into different sections. In each class, I also have different sections for each topic/term. My resources are then put into these sections for easy access. The resources for each term align with what I am doing in class. For example, my Year 7’s complete a unit on World Music in Term 1 and I have several World Instrument Studies in that part of my Sub Tub Folder. In Term 3 Year 7 learns about the Pioneers of Rock and I have some Pioneers of Rock Musician Studies for them to use in lessons while I am away. I think you get the idea, put in relevant resources that keep your students learning with activities that are different to what you would use, but along the same learning thread.

Another suggestion would be to make sure that you have a section in your collection with some “Fun Stuff”. In this section, you can include the easy activities such as colouring in, find-a-words, crosswords and the like.

5 Things to Do Before You Take a Day Off Blog Post from Jooya Teaching Resources.


In an effort to make it easy for everybody involved, as well as avoid that embarrassing situation where the resources left have already been completed by the class, do yourself a favour and have a recording system in place. Over the years I have used a few different ways to record the lessons completed. One that I used for years was a simple sheet with a date/lesson/class list that was to be completed by the substitute at the end of the day. This year I have swapped to a different method. I use stickers with a simple “Class/date”, this is stuck to the plastic sleeve of the activity. As the substitute uses the resource they simply record it on the sticker. I used the adhesive pages from my local office supply store that had 24 stickers to a page – I found this to be a good size and I could fit two “class/date” on it.

5 Things to Do Before You Take a Day Off Blog Post from Jooya Teaching Resources.

Paperwork and Rules

One thing that should be included in your Music Sub Tub are your rules and expectations. I have slightly different rules for my Year 7 classes compared to my Elective classes, so I include both in the folder. It is also a good idea to include any relevant school paperwork like toilet passes, out of class passes, discipline referrals, positive commendations/rewards, evacuation procedures and bell times. These will all depend on the individual school, so use your own school policies in this section of the Sub Tub Folder.

The last thing I like to include in my folder are two different forms that make it easier on my colleagues. These are the “While I am away” and the “While You Were Away” forms. I obviously use the “While I am Away” form to plan my lessons when I know I will be absent from school for any particular reason. My colleagues appreciate this as they only have to direct the substitute teacher to my desk and all the resources are there ready for the day. The other form “While You Were Away” can be used either by a colleague so they can prepare lessons using your Sub Tub resources, or even by the Substitute teacher themselves. It is simply a record of what they have done for the day. Both of the forms have spaces to fill in about any concerns as well as letting you know who worked well so you can reward the students appropriately upon your return.

freebie link

One big contributor to teacher burn out is that teachers don’t take time off when they need to. Teachers are a strange little bunch who genuinely enjoy their jobs, and find it very stressful to take a day off from work to do things like be a mum/dad and look after a sick child, or take time for a much-needed mental health day, or even because they really are sick with the flu! But, when a teacher repeatedly comes to work sick, they are not doing themselves or their work colleagues any favours! If you are sick, give yourself permission to take a day off. If you have put together a great set of resources for your students to use while you are away, then you deserve to take care of yourself and get well. Trust that your resources are going to be engaging, trust the professional taking over your class and trust that they won’t “wreck” your equipment, and most importantly don’t feel bad if that student plays up in the lesson while you were away – it is quite likely they would have misbehaved with you there anyway – so stop feeling guilty!!!!

5 Things to Do Before You Take a Day Off Blog Post from Jooya Teaching Resources.

Of course, you could make your life even easier with a Music Sub Tub Bundle that has already been collated for you. The Music Sub Tub that has been collated for you includes over 400 pages of activities. That means that you will never have to stress about what to leave for your students, for years to come. The Music Sub Tub includes

Independent Research Activities

Music Resources

Back to School Bonuses

Click here to grab your own Music Sub Tub from my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I have made this Bundle available at such a great price because you deserve to not feel guilty about taking a day off work!

As a special bonus, if you would like the Folder covers, While I am Away from, While You Were Away form, my class rules, topic overview table and lesson recording sheets click here for you FREE download.

Remember no one plans on getting sick, but is much better to plan as if you will be! Here’s hoping that you won’t get sick, but if you get your resources ready in advance – it won’t matter if you do need to take a well-deserved day off.

Until next time

Happy Teaching – or happy day off

Julia from Jooya

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