Substitute Teacher Guidelines and Information for Physical Educators

Enclosed below are some guidelines that you may consider using when it comes time for you to have a substitute teacher cover your classes for a day. These tips and guidelines were submitted by Teri Charpenel who teaches Elementary PE in Illinois. She includes this information in a three ring binder with with each individual paper in sheet protectors. Then, she puts tab dividers in the binder so that my substitute can easily locate the appropriate sections (listed below). Please understand that these are guidelines and the sections here are not all-inclusive. Your substitute teacher binder will include unique information that is geared for your teacher setting.

Our sincere thanks to Teri for sharing this important information with PE Central. We hope it is useful in your teaching situation.

My Philosophy about Physical Education

Include here a brief statement describing how you view physical education. This may include your philosophy. This gives the substitute an idea about the importance of physical education. May want to include a copy of our professions National Standards or the developmentally appropriate documents (published by SHAPE America) as well.

My Physical Education Rules, Rewards and Consequences


Include a list of your rules (stated positively) so that your substitute knows what to expect in your classroom. For example:

  • Always do what you are supposed to be doing
  • Stop, look and listen on the signal

More examples of physical education rules.

Rewards for class behavior:

Tell the sub what you do if the class has an outstanding day (e.g., group cheer, line-up games, etc.)


Tell the sub what you do if there are problems in the classroom either with one child or the class as a whole (e.g., warnings, time-outs, class sits quietly, etc.)

My Physical Education Class Signals

  • Stop signal-voice ("freeze")
  • Other signal (train whistle, drum, clap)
  • Start signal ('Go")
  • Visual signals (hand raised in the air, signal for return to listening place)

Protocols for Entering and Exiting the Activity Room

Tell the substitute how the students enter the physical activity room and what they do when they depart the activity room. Things to consider pointing out here:

  • Do you have a designated line leader? If so, write down who that person is for that week or talk to the classroom teacher.
  • Do the students start with an instant activity?
  • Do the students go to an assigned seat in the activity room?

Lastly, indicate how you dismiss the students at the end of class.

  • Do they line up by squads, color groups, etc.?

My Daily Schedule and Class Lists

Things to include here may be:

  • Provide an easily read daily schedule.
  • Include the times for each class, the grade level and the classroom teacher's name. Include any duty (bus, hall, lunch, after school, etc.) you must perform. Be precise with this information so they know where to go and what time (e.g., recess duty is on the playground near Mrs. Smiths room from 11:30 - 12:00).
  • Include what time and where you eat your lunch.
  • Include copies of your class lists or seating charts.
  • Have the class lists clearly marked with time of physical education class, teacher's name and grade level.

Proper Physical Education Class Attire

Indicate to the substitute what you expect the students to be wearing. Include the types of shoes you allow and whether the students change into uniform. If they change, you must also include information on locker room procedures. If you have a used sneaker bin for folks who didn't bring sneaks then explain how that works as well.

Bathroom, Fire, and Emergency Procedures

  • Tell the substitute how you handle bathroom requests, what to do if there is a fire drill or emergency within the gym.
  • Tell the substitute where your emergency call button is. Let them know what to do if a student gets out of control.
  • Provide a map of the emergency exits and fire extinguishers.

Special Needs Students and Aides

Indicate to the substitute that this information is confidential and let the substitute know of any special needs children and what the aide should be doing with the child. I always try to let my aides know if I will not be in school. They can be a tremendous help to the substitute teacher.

Equipment Location and Procedures

For this, you will need to be exact about these procedures:

  • Where is your equipment located?
  • How do you distribute the equipment to your students. Do you have a child or children designated to help you with equipment. If so, leave their names or ask the class.
  • At the end of the day, where does the equipment go?
  • Do you allow students to put it away?

General Expectations for the Activity Room

Give your substitute a brief overview of how you conduct your classes. Here are some of my expectations:

  • I wait until all students are looking at me.
  • I wait until the students are back in their listening spots.
  • I check for understanding after giving directions.
  • I expect students to be respectful of each other and will stop class if they are not. I use cooperative groups.

Lastly, make sure to provide a list of the students in each class who would be helpful to a substitute teacher.

Lessons Plans for Each of the Grades

In this section, put your lesson plans by grade level.

Check out all of the PE Central Lesson ideas...

The PE Central Cooperative Skills and Fitness Challenge Tasks would be great for the 3rd-5th graders to practice! Substitutes would love to be able to offer these to your students in your absences.

Additional Ideas

  • May be helpful to videotape a lesson of yours so a substitute can take this home to see exactly how a class with you teaching it works.
  • In addition to writing this information down, you may wnat to do a videotape of you speaking this information so a sub can take home and watch.

Submitted by Teri Charpenelwho teaches at Fulton Elementary School in Tinley Park, IL. Thanks for contributing to PE Central! Posted on PEC: 9/26/2001