Every relief teacher should have their own bag of tricks so that they are organised and prepared for their day.

No matter what year or subject you are filling in for, the following items should always be in your bag of tricks.


Pens and Pencils – While every classroom has writing utensils stored somewhere, it is best to have these on hand and ready to go. Who knows where the regular teacher stores them or if the teacher locks them up in a cabinet for which you have no key. Students are notorious for not having a pencil and you can’t effectively teach if your students aren’t able to complete their work. 


Paper – Keep both lined and blank paper on hand. This is another item students frequently run out of or forget at home, or perhaps you aren’t sure which exercise book to use. Having paper on hand also allows you to make notes about the classroom for both yourself and for the classroom teacher. It’s also great to use for activities and games during the day if lessons finish early. Don’t forget to leave the class teacher a note about how the day went!


Post-it Notes – These are great to have on hand for both quick notes you don’t want to forget and to help keep papers organised, and it will help the regular teacher when they come back to school too. These can also be used to highlight key ideas to students when you are working with small groups or one-on-one with students. For example, you can add ideas or goals on a post-it during a writing lesson for students to work towards.


Stickers/Rewards – Stickers are not just for the primary school students. Even secondary school students will enjoy a sticker for a job well done. Catch a student on task? Put a sticker on the top of their work. It will bring a smile to the student and allow the teacher to know exactly who was on task and who wasn’t. Check your local dollar store for inexpensive and fun stickers. You could also stock up on cool pens, erasers, or toys to use as rewards if you’d like to, to acknowledge positive behaviour.


Relief Teacher Binder – A relief teacher binder is a lifesaver when you arrive at a school to find there has been no planning left for you to follow.  Keep it stocked with simple lesson plans and activities to keep the students on task and engaged. If you receive relief bookings in advance, it’s a great idea to ensure it’s stocked with lesson ideas specific to that age group.


Being a great relief teacher is all about being organised. Having these items in your Bag of Tricks will help you to be prepared for anything!

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