Welcome to the amazing new world of teaching....you have worked hard to get to this point, and now you get to put everything you have learned into practice.
I hope you are prepared for the emotional journey, (and guaranteed, it most likely will be one)....here are some things that might help you along during your first year (or maybe first few years). You will find yourself in working to deadlines, meeting expectations from a number of different sources, and then there are the students themselves. When I began teaching (way back in 1972) I was not prepared for the demands of the profession and so under the guidance of my wonderful devoted principal, I was guided and mentored throughout the first few years until I found my feet.
Building relationships with all members of a school's mini community is vital, and an essential part of establishing yourself within that school. Schools are not just about the teaching staff and you will quickly learn that your support staff are the backbone of the classroom if you are fortunate to have them working alongside you.
In this blog, I will be sharing tips for those of you who will be venturing into the world of Relief Teaching as your first inroad into teaching. These are some excerpts from my 'Ultimate Relief Teaching Survival Kit' for primary teachers
"You have graduated, celebrated and now it is time to secure some work and get into the world of Casual Relief Teaching. You may be returning to work after a break after having children or you have left a permanent position to enjoy some of the many benefits of being a Casual Relief Teacher.
Schools NEED reliable, available and skilled teachers to add to their Relief Teaching list
YOU ARE A SPECIALIST TEACHER
There are a few ways that you can go about securing work. You can approach your local schools (both government and private), work through an agency or booking company.
- Your resume is your calling card, it will detail your qualifications, experience, skills, specialist areas and days available.
- Many teachers are now putting together an online portfolio which they are able to include as a website link on a printed card, or on the cover sheet of your portfolio.
Preparing for your first relief teaching experience
Relief teaching is hard work. The students may be unfamiliar to you just as you are unfamiliar to them and, of course, they will take advantage of you if they can. Use the day as a chance to show off your relief-teaching prowess!
These tips may make your relief teaching days easier:
Have a relief-teaching bag or box packed with things to use during the day including the following:
- A collection of stories to read to young children or a chapter novel for older students
- Theme packs with activities for each key learning area because quite often the classroom teacher will not have left you any work for the class to go on with
- A repertoire of songs and action rhymes as attention-grabbers for young students
- Games, brain teasers and brain breaks for older students.
- Be prepared and have a back-up plan in case the classroom teacher hasn’t provided a lesson plan, and have a bag full of numeracy or literacy-related games, in case you find yourself with a group of disengaged or early-finishing students.
- Arrive early, particularly if it’s a new school, to find your classroom and familiarize yourself with its setup, photocopy any worksheets you need, and to find out what playground duty roster you are on.
- Establish contacts and relationships with staff and teachers—you never know what this could lead to!
- Discuss or reinforce the classroom rules in the morning, as soon as the children arrive. No matter what you teach, the main battle is effective behavior management—show them who’s boss!
- Set up your own reward system for the day and add to it constantly. Alternatively you can use the teacher’s if you know it. Many schools use ClassDojo and it is very effective.
- Ensure any work you give the students is marked before the day finishes. Leave a report for the regular teacher detailing how each student has performed.
- To get relief teaching work in the first place, dress in your best professional outfit and drop off a resume in person at every school you want to work at. It’s all about establishing contacts and relationships.
- Relax and enjoy your time with the students. One of the advantages of relief teaching is the absence of pressure of having to constantly assess the students, so have some fun with them and take the time to get to know them. Don’t forget to bring your personality!
- For extra support, ideas, and networking in general, check out the following Facebook groups/pages:
Relief teaching ideas community
RTI Daily casual teaching listings