On relief teachers and class room culture…

I remember vividly a lecturer at T col (which was 6 and a bit years ago – eep) saying  something along the lines of

‘you will know if you students are working because they want to work or if they are working because you are making them depending on how they go with a reliever’

As in, if you are ‘making them work’ they go to custard for the reliever and if you are ‘making them want to work’ they will be ok for a reliever. Although, everyone obviously has good days and bad days. But this comment has stuck with me and was fresh in my mind after I got a lot of relief at the end of the year last year, but also filling in occasionally as you sometimes need to do.

And I remember back to my days at school – a reliever was almost a free pass to be a complete muppet for the period. I was not a model student at all….

Setting relief for me is always a bit of a challenge, especially at 7:30 am trying to deal with a sick Mr 3 and a bit. This was one of those examples, a scratched out email while trying to manage a clingy clingon with snot everywhere and a hubby desperately trying to get out the door. I had 2 assessments scheduled which helps with relief writing, although I hate being away for assessments, as I somehow feel I am letting my students down. But the hubby stayed home the day before so it was my turn when he woke up and was worse (I was soooo sure he was going to be better…. and we were all so tired I made no effort the night before. Lesson learned… again. And next time it will be exactly the same….last minute, probably with spew rather than snot…. ).

The other thing about relief is I need to make sure it is easy for a reliever to follow. Or more specifically, the relief co-ordinator. (Which is a job I am NEVER EVER EVER volunteering for….) Which is where I have got myself in trouble in the past – the kids know where they are at is not sufficient relief to leave apparently. You need specific instructions, page numbers and something for early finishers etc.

Yet, in my mind, leaving the kids know what they are doing is the best relief as the students should know where they are at, what was next and that they can get in touch with me. Yet to meet the ‘demands’ of our relief guidelines, I now set something specific that people can ‘enforce’ if they need to. I also really miss BYOD at my last school for relief- being able to have the lessons resource already on the LMS and then post instructions more specifically for students was awesome. But even then, the reliever still needed a copy as they often could not access the LMS themselves. While I like the idea of an emergency relief box of ready to go lessons, I also hate the idea as they don’t flow with where the students are at.

I should also comment on how lucky I am to have a SUPER AMAZING awesome department who also have young children (or did…) so they get the last minute thing and will print off rolls etc. And I do the same for them. I also have not one but TWO Science teachers who relieve at my school who are FABULOUS. It makes life so much easier, they are both awesome teachers and so when I know I am going to be away, talking to them about what work to set makes life so much easier. Often they are really happy to do a practical or some sort of hands on activity if I know I am going to be away prior to the day (Like a week at camp… imagine a week of silent workbooks – I’d go mad……). If I know I am going to be away, my students know too. I will often leave Office Mix videos of the key skills I need them to pick up, or of the whole lesson (like this for my juniors last year) or will set some sort of ‘task’ that takes 2-3 lessons to work on, with the idea it will be finished when I get back.

Anyways, my delight to get this in my pigeon hole was huge when I went in over the weekend to try and get less behind on everything and get the assessments marked for moderation on Monday. (I also set the alarms off… sigh)

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The Minecraft project is a masterpiece, I am learning LOADS.

I had 3 students email me for feedback – by popping their pictures from their phones that they sent me into a powerpoint slide I was able to record an office mix for feedback in about 4 minutes each – including an interruption from Mr 3 (I haven’t included the link here as it is towards an assessment, but if you would like a look feel free to get in touch). While I know if you are on leave, you are on leave, but I am happy to spend 20 minutes giving students feedback for an upcoming assessment, and this was it is so so so so quick.

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I love the Science pun, but also what it says about how my classes are running. Even with a disrupted start to the year, they are sweet. They know what they should be doing, and got on with it.

A big thank you to Jean, she is awesome and we are lucky to have her (and Brian our other Sci reliever) to help us out. And getting this feedback from her has made my year so far. Even with the crappy last minute relief, all the other planning and ‘coaching’ kicked in and was awesome. I’m stoked that by the sounds of this my students still got something meaningful out of the day.

And I am totally going to get a repeat of the brownie 🙂

2 thoughts on “On relief teachers and class room culture…

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