As fall gets into full swing, teachers know that it’s also time for another season to start hitting hard: the flu. We know our students are sick, coughing, blowing noses, or calling in absent, and inevitably, we’ll be sick right along with them.

You’ll hear a lot of lines about being a teacher and being sick:

  • “My kids need me there.”
  • “I can’t miss–I don’t have sub plans ready.”

Or my personal favorite…

  • “It’s harder for me to miss a day than it is for me to be there sick.”

However, there are definitely going to be days where you can’t–or rather, shouldn’t–be at school. This blog post isn’t here to dictate when those times are–I trust that you can figure out that vomiting can be a classroom disruption (ew). Rather, what tools exist to make your day off easier for your students and for yourself?

Collecting Student Work or Papers If you’re looking to collect student work from the previous class, have students:

  • Upload or share digital work to Google Drive, Dropbox, or through Google Forms
  • If you want to get really out there, have students send a pic of it to you on Twitter with a classroom hashtag.
  • “Call in” their work to a Google Voice account — a really good idea for language arts & English teachers.
  • Post a FlipGrid of their work explaining their answers.
Distributing Lesson Plans & Materials Easily share the day’s work with students via an LMS (Learning Management System), or make one of your own:

  • Create a Hyperdoc or Hyperslide (see this link for a general guide)
  • Share it with students by giving your substitute a short URL to write on the board, such as one from
  • Once you’ve gotten a hyperslide or doc made, don’t forget to include everything in it that students will need (warmups to exit-tickets, etc).
Warmups / Exit Tickets Creating quick and efficient warmup and exit tickets is a must, especially when you’re not feeling well. I personally recommend one of the following apps because they only need URL’s to get to them:

Replacing “You”: Let’s be real– there is no such thing as replacing you, a teacher, in a classroom. 

However, there are a few ways to create the next best thing:

  • Create lesson tutorials using Iorad that interactively walk your students through your lesson step-by-step. You can see a blog post that I did on this app here.
  • Create video tutorials using Screencastify and upload them to Google Drive or even YouTube.
  • And don’t forget to provide links to these tutorials inside your Hyperdoc or Hyperslide!

And one last thing– get better soon!

Nate Ridgway is a tech-loving history teacher in Indianapolis, Indiana and a co-author of Don’t Ditch That Tech: Differentiation in a Digital World. He specializes in lesson design and also is licensed in Special Education Mild Interventions. He’s taught in both middle school and high school settings, but currently is enjoying teaching World History & Dual Credit U.S. History. He is currently finishing a Masters degree in History at the University of Indianapolis.


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