It’s 7:35am. Your phone rings. Relief and panic set in simultaneously. Please be a school… I need the money. But what on earth am I going to do with any class at this short notice?
As Relief Teachers, being caught off-guard or last minute is not unusual. But despite the comfort that a deeply desired booking can bring, almost nothing can prepare us for the dread of knowing we don’t have enough time to properly prepare for a class. This unease is often compounded by a consciousness that our reputation as a CRT and our chances of getting a call back count considerably upon how well we take on a class last minute, keep said class engaged with varied and meaningful learning activities while maintaining a positive classroom environment without any major behavioral issues…. Ugh!
Simply put, knowing or not knowing how to deal with the above scenario can seriously dictate our chance at success, and future, as a relief teacher. But rather than throw in the towel, let’s discuss some fabulously easy resources and ideas, which your students are going to love no matter the grade. Better yet, it will eliminate any ounce of worry as soon as that booking is locked in!
And no, those worksheets and DVDs will stay on the shelf, thank you very much! What you’ll need is your foolproof Relief Teacher Bag of Tricks and the below items are exactly what you need.
A picture book alone can lead into several exciting lessons which can be adapted depending on the grade, like: character studies, alternative endings and creative writing opportunities, discovering and creating similes and metaphors and an exploration into the overall theme. Picture books have plentiful connections to the creative arts, too - like directed drawing and drama. Choosing your favourite picture book is a great place to start.
Learn more about how to design an awesome One Book Lesson Plan with the Relief Teacher Association PD course: Creating a Highly Effective Relief Teacher Bag of Tricks for K-6.
Dice, playing cards and lego
Class sets of dice and playing cards are often available in classrooms, but carrying around your own kit won’t hurt either. Dice and playing cards can be used to develop fluency in addition/subtraction and multiplication/division and there are a tonne of engagaing dice and card maths games out there that can help achieve this: Fat pig, First to 100 and Greed are just a few. Remember, you can always modify games by using one, two or three dice, or by slightly differentiating the activity.
Do you know Lego can be used to teach fractions?! I’ll just leave this here:
Discover how dice, playing cards and Lego can be used in simple and engaging maths lessons with The Relief Teacher Association PD course: K-6 Numeracy Strategies and Activities
A reliable sports game is always a winner
Golden Child, Snatch, Builder and Bulldozers... The list goes on! Remember, outdoor games don’t just exercise your body, but the mind, too! They can serve as fun rewards after an awesome day of excellent effort, as well.
Gather heaps of fab games to throw into your Relief Teaching Bag of Tricks through the Relief Teacher Association PD course: Health and Physical Education Activities and Games
Bookmark a bunch of awesome websites
Being a 21st century teacher means using ICT wherever and whenever possible.
Here are a few great websites to start
MathsStarters (a fun way to start any maths lesson)
Pobble365 (the images on this site are great starting points for literacy, drama and debating opportunities)
Kahoot (create, share and play fun games and quizzes)
TopMarks (an abundance of free interactive resources for students across the grades and subjects).
Want more ideas? We held a webinar last year and had a large number of relief teacher attendees contribute to create a database of great resource websites. You can find it here.
Do you have access to an IWB? Open up Notebook and whip up a bunch of last minute games that you can link to literacy and numeracy, like battle ships and tic tac toe.
Find out more amazing ways to use an IWB to create engaging, last minute games via the FREE Relief Teacher Association PD course: Effective use of Interactive Whiteboards
Prepare an introductory presentation
It can take just a couple of minutes at home to create your own introductory presentation on Prezi, PowerPoint, iMovie or Sway (for starters!). You can save this onto a USB or your own personal drive. It can work as an enjoyable icebreaker and allows your class to get to know you in a far more entertaining way. Including some of your interests (or dislikes) can make for workable points for discussion, as well.
Likewise, if iPads or computers are available in the classroom, you could present Sway to your class and have them create their own introductory presentation for you, which could include their likes/dislikes, learning/personal goals and so on. A bonus feature of all of the above is that these steps are absolutely winning ways towards building rapport with your class.
Discover how you can build your own exciting introductory presentations by completing the Relief Teacher Assocation PD course: Smartphones and Tablets in the Classroom – Part One.
Find out how to use Sway to design engaging and dynamic presentations with the PD course: Digital Storytelling with Sway.
The main takeaway
Creating a Relief Teacher Bag of Tricks with easily adaptable ideas that engage your students regardless of the grade and is not only an A+ method of ensuring your students enjoy their day with you, but it is fool-proof way to creating positive classrooms where behavioral issues are confidently minimized. Remember, schools take notice when a relief teacher makes an effort. Leaving positive footprints behind is your greatest way to ensure a call back and makes you feel pretty awesome, too.