How to Be a Better Relief Teacher

Relief or Substitute teaching is different to regular classroom teaching. You are a brand new face and have not developed meaningful relationships yet with your students. Likewise, the students need time to acclimate to you. Students will regard you differently at first and will not be familiar with your style of teaching. They may even see this as an opportunity to take advantage of you or mislead you- as you are the newcomer on the block. If you are going to be teaching for multiple days, it is imperative to communicate your boundaries and expectations of the class immediately.


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    Prepare ahead of time. The best way to bridge the gap is to communicate with the teacher you are relieving and asking her how she runs the class. How she handles disputes. Who the mischievous kids are. And any things that are unique to his/her teaching style so you can replicate them as best as possible. If the teacher is unavailable to answer your questions, ask the teachers that work next door to her or perhaps ask the faculty in the teacher's lounge what your teacher was like.
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    Remember, the right decision is not always the most popular one. Canceling a homework assignment might make the students love you that day, but it sets them back in the long run. Instead of skipping an assignment, make it fun and interesting.
  3. 3
    Always keep focused on the MAIN outcome of your lesson. This should be clearly established in your own mind well before you start the lesson. Write the answer to this question somewhere in your diary, “At the end of this lesson I want kids to …”
  4. 4
    Reinforce the purpose of the lesson. Students may see work as annoying, time consuming, pointless and something that prevents them from doing something fun (like watching tv, playing outside, etc.).
    • A lot of the time these feelings arise because students do not understand the relevancy of the assignment in their life. The simple question, "Why is this important? How will doing this assignment benefit me?"
    • If you can think ahead of time good, fun and witty answers to these questions before you teach, you can change the attitude of resistant students and mold them into receptive and eager vessels of knowledge. But you need to help them understand why it's worth missing their fav tv show or playing outside for less time than they did yesterday.
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    Don’t give out all the information all the time. Some time kids want to explore options to get information. Give out books, computer access and/or website for students to search. Show the students how to use common search engines like Google.
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    Consider group work as an option. There is no doubt that group work is the chatty option. Having kids facing other kids is a sure fire bet to start discussion. But if discussion is important to your lesson, then perhaps group work is a great option.
    • Investigations are powerful learning opportunities. Investigations are those activities avoided by most relief teachers because they are usually difficult to organize on the spot.
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    Allow some time to think. Students need time to THINK and process new concepts. Relief teachers, because they know content and skills, sometimes go on without giving kids the take up time needed to understand a concept.
    • Sometimes relief teachers talk too fast and pepper the students with questions and activities without giving them time to process. You know the old adage, “Stop and smell the roses!” That is also true in the classroom.
    • Be mindful that students in your class may be at completely different levels. Some process things extremely quick, others take a lot of time, while some need repetition.
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    Encourage discussion. What is the article about? Do you think the article is bias? Is there anything you would like to know that the article did not mention? And more investigatory questions like that.
    • Allow students the time to talk. Check out this strategy. Honestly, everyone needs to be given a chance to talk. Put 30 adults together in a small room and tell them to be quiet. It is not a practical application of learning.
    • Share your learning process. There is nothing more valuable to a student learner than to see a master at work. When learning a new concept, vocalize the thought processes you use to interpret meaning. Show your class how you develop meaning.
  9. 9
    Be pragmatic. Sometimes lessons develop in a completely different way than you expected. Sometimes that can be a good thing. So how do you know the difference? Is the main thing still the main thing? If not, then bring the lesson back and consider the matter another day.

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Categories: Teaching