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Helping the High School Relief Teacher Succeed With Your Classes

Helping the High School Relief Teacher Succeed with your Classes

As a retired Head of Mathematics in a large school and more recently a relief or substitute teacher in secondary schools, I have found that many teachers failed to plan effectively for their classes when they were absent.

Obviously, a ‘spur of the moment’ illness or family emergency may make it difficult to provide adequate work for your class or classes. However, when you know in advance that you will be absent, then there are ways you can prepare for the best use of that time and in the process keep your students on task and the replacement teacher happy and less stressed.

Lesson Ideas for Secondary Relief/Substitute Teachers:

Ensure there is more work than can be done in the period to keep the class busy.
If you leave a revision test, you must ensure that it covers all the basic learning material. This will give the less able students work they can do.
Set some critical thinking exercises to extend your best students.
Include an activity related to your work unit that all can begin as an extra exercise for those who can do no more of the set work or have finished.
If you expect the class to work on their assignments, you must give the relief teacher detailed instructions on the assignments plus copies of the assignment to provide for those who don’t turn up with what is required.
Leave practical work only if you know you have a relief teacher who has expertise in your area. If you don’t know what relief teacher is coming, add an alternative set of activities. Remember to include advice as to where the equipment is and how to obtain a key.
Include a class roll for each class and any advice the teacher needs to know about students.
If there are room changes, specify them. Indicate where the relief teacher might find the students if they don’t arrive.
Above all, give activities that are on the topics being studied for the next exam. Ensure there is much to do and that every student has work that will occupy him/her for more than the whole period.
Attach homework that the relief teacher would give to the class and follow-up by checking and correcting during the next period.
Indicate where the relief teacher can get help, both subject and discipline wise.
Finally, make sure you follow-up each lesson checking how much progress has been made and answer any questions that the students may have. Doing this will give the message to your students that you regard the work left to be done when you are absent is important.