Redesigning the Sub Folder

We’re thinking about the substitute teaching experience at every level of the system, and in this project we’re thinking about how we can impact a substitute teacher’s daily experience in the classroom.

This project started in April 2016 at, a pop-up class organized by the K-12 Lab at Stanford University’s Over the course of two days, participants tackled an entire mini design sprint, around how to improve the substitute teaching experience. They interviewed current and past educators, students and parents to build empathy and gain stories. It was through these empathy building exercises that the teams landed on more narrow design questions:

  • How might we incorporate student ownership into the substitute teaching experience?
  • How might substitute teachers prepare and transition into an ongoing instructional plan without disruption.

After brainstorming and building prototypes, the teams presented their final versions: you can check out additional photos and video presentations here.

The project has continued with the development of a school toolkit, a version of a standardized sub folder, designed to prepare substitute teachers for the day ahead, as well as acclimate them to the school building, culture and environment.

We’re currently working on our second round of real-world prototypes.

We’re Exploring

  • Can we create easy to use, meaningful resources for substitute teachers that schools can adopt and adapt?
  • What school based preparation and materials ensure the smoothest transition possible for subs?
  • How can we make the process of moving from classroom to classroom and school to school every day easier?