be prepared - the casual teacher's motto

readilearn: Be prepared – a casual teacher’s motto

It’s not always easy being a casual teacher, taking over another teacher’s class for the day. You might be in a different class at a different school, working with a different age group and a different set of expectations, and probably playground duty, every day of the week.

But it does have its advantages too. You can arrive just before school begins and leave when it finishes. You don’t have to do assessment, write reports or be involved in parent meetings.

But it is important to be prepared.

Familiarise yourself with the class timetable and program

Many teachers leave a program for relief teachers to follow and, if one is available, it is important to follow it to maintain continuity for the children and to avoid interrupting the teaching and learning schedule. However, there may be days when a program is not available, and a casual teacher needs to be prepared for these.

Whether a day’s program is available or not, it is important to remember that it’s not your class. There will be established class expectations, procedures and timetables. The day will work best if these can be followed as closely as possible, particularly if teacher aides, support personnel and specialist teachers are involved.

Introduce yourself and your expectations

Continue reading: readilearn: Be prepared – a casual teacher’s motto

21 thoughts on “readilearn: Be prepared – a casual teacher’s motto

  1. Sarah Brentyn

    I’ve never heard the term “casual teacher”. Always learn something when I drop by Norah’s place. 🙂 As everyone here is saying, I’ve only heard “substitute teacher”.

    Good plan, though, regardless. AS far as I remember, every single substitute teacher I ever had was awful. When I was growing up, they were a bit of a joke in general. They showed up, sat around, read magazines, painted fingernails… Of course, at the time, all the kids loved when we had subs because we could do whatever we wanted. Now I look back and absolutely cringe thinking of an adult acting that way–basically being a (terrible) babysitter.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      We obviously have different terms across the waves. Here they are also called ‘supply’ teachers, ‘relief’ teachers and ‘temporary’ teachers. They do such an important job. In the early days of my career, if a teacher was away, often the class was added into that of another teacher. It wasn’t good for anyone.
      I can’t believe what you are saying about the substitute teachers when you were a student. How dreadful. Yeah, not even a good babysitter, at that. Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

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  2. Native's Castle

    Completely relate to the essay you wrote. I spent more time substitute teaching as I call it , than fulltime. I have done all grades, all classes, and sometimes completed the year when a teacher was pregnant. Some of the students i could count on for class attendance are good friends today. Good things come when my voice and character stood morality strong.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I’m interested to hear the situation is similar across the waves, even if we give different names to the role. It sounds like your career as a substitute teacher was very satisfying.

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  3. Miriam Hurdle

    Norah, we call them “substitute teachers” in the US also. Some are very good. The regular teachers should leave lesson plans for them to follow. At the end of the day, they write a report about the progress, and should also correct any work done during the day. Some Subs. are not doing too well.

    I once took a day off, wrote my daily schedule on the chalkboard, had the lesson plan in my lesson plan book and had it opened. In addition, I wrote a detail lesson plan on the paper with all the instructional materials opened to the right pages. The next day, when I returned, the subs. didn’t follow my lesson plan, She had other things for the children to do. She didn’t correct the classwork and had all the papers stacked up on top of my instructions and lesson plan. She was the most irresponsible sub. I had over 15 years though.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Oh, Miriam. How I feel for you. All that wonderful work prepared and ignored. So frustrating. At least most of your other subs followed your plan as expected.
      I can’t remember ever being away and not leaving a plan for a substitute teacher. I’d even get up out of my sick bed to write out a plan. Sometimes I thought it was more effort to do that than go into work. It is only in more recent (say the last 20 :)) years, that we’ve been expected to that. Email certainly makes it easier. Back last century, I used to even drive into work with a program.
      When I worked as a supply teacher (last century) there was rarely a program left. I was always prepared with enough work to keep us going throughout the day. I liked to have a theme to work on; for example, animals.

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      1. Miriam Hurdle

        Yes, I remember I had one day to write at least one-week of lesson plans when the last minute approval of my 6-months cancer treatment. I had a long-term substitute teacher for 6-months but the treatment started on Tuesday, so I went to work on Monday to make plans.

        Liked by 1 person

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        1. Norah Post author

          I’m sorry to hear about your cancer, Miriam. How are you travelling now? I hope you are well.
          That was so good of you to leave plans for a teacher on a 6-month contract. Some of the responsibility should have been hers, surely.

          Liked by 1 person

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          1. Miriam Hurdle

            Yes, I was only responsible for one week of lesson plans. Whoever took the 6-month assignment took care of the rest of the year.
            I’m okay right now with about 60% of energy level. My left leg is swollen because of removal of lymph nodes. I retired one or two years earlier than I would have, but I’m fine with that.

            Liked by 1 person

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  4. Christy B

    I think a good introduction is so important for getting the class to respect the teacher. I remember sometimes barely remembering the teacher’s name who came in for a day here or there. We call them “substitute teachers” here in Canada.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      I agree, Christy. I think it is difficult to receive respect if you don’t take the time to show them respect by taking an interest in them. Learning their names is a great first step.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I did it for a while, but I much preferred having my own group of children in my own classroom. Some casual teachers are absolute magicians. It is a tough job.

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