Creating Google Classrooms for Substitute Teachers

Robert Abraham
PD Account Manager / PD Specialist
News on October 26 2020

To say it has been an interesting and challenging time in education would be an understatement. As schools settled into the school year, and distance and hybrid learning plans were being implemented across curriculum, Google Classroom has proven itself an effective tool for teachers. There are a few “What if?” scenarios, though, and one of those revolves around how to make Google Classroom work for substitute teachers.

The Ellenville School District has a plan (and we’re sharing it)

I was recently doing some training in a school district in upstate New York, the Ellenville School District. I had the pleasure of working with their very dedicated staff of teachers reviewing Google Classroom and other tools for distance/hybrid learning. One of my visits actually had me working with a team of substitute teachers on a plan the district developed to deal with the likelihood of teachers being out during the beginning of the school year when students would be working remotely. I was very impressed with the plan they developed and wanted to share it here with their permission. 

Helping teachers prep for substitute teachers via Google Classroom

Students would be starting off the school year in a remote model, and teachers were well-trained in using the Google Classroom platform. However, in order to make the transition smoother when a teacher was absent, a plan was put in place to help substitute teachers who might not be as familiar with Google Classroom.

The plan included the following: 

  • Teachers would have a Google Classroom set up to work with their students. 
  • Teachers would create a second Google Classroom for their students to be used by substitute teachers in the event of a teacher’s absence. 
  • A substitute Google account would be created for every teacher. 
  • The classroom teacher would own the “substitute” Google Classroom and the substitute teacher account would be a co-teacher in the “substitute” Google Classroom. 
  • There are two topics in the “substitute” Google Classroom “Classwork” page: one for daily assignments, and one for emergency assignments. 
  • The teacher would be responsible to put lessons in the daily assignments topic for the substitute teacher to share and facilitate with the students in the event that the regular teacher had a planned absence. 
  • The teacher would also be responsible to maintain lessons in the emergency assignments topic in the event they have an emergency absence and do not have time to submit a daily assignment. (These lessons are intended to be replenished upon use, as well.)

Benefits for teachers, substitute teachers — and students

The plan outlined above will allow the teacher and the substitute teacher to communicate and work with the students in a continuous manner that is beneficial to all. The teacher will know that their work is being delivered in the manner they create it. The substitute teacher will have clear and meaningful work to deliver. And best of all, the students will have consistency in the types of assignments they are given. 

I would like to thank Ellenville for having me in to work with their classroom teachers and their substitute teachers and commend them on this education plan. I highly recommend this type of educational model as I feel it is very important to keep as much consistency and continuity for students as we all try to negotiate these times. 


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