I am conscious of the fact that while many graduates are successful in gaining employment right away, others will spend time relieving at the beginning of their career. Others may choose to relieve at different points in their career for a myriad of reasons, so I wanted to provide some relief teacher tips and tricks! While I have done some relief work, I wanted to find an expert to offer their thoughts, and found Erris Scott! You’ll find a lot of great advice below.
If you’ve landed a job then, Congratulations! Finding work is not always easy. Your ideal teaching position may not be what you get. However, you can still teach as a relief teacher or even offer to assist in a classroom of a school you may desire. As a semi-retired teacher after more than 30 years of teaching, I am still actively involved. I am a substitute teacher and continue to enjoy relief work in a number of local schools in my area. During my semi-retirement years, I have developed the Substi App which can help you connect with desirable schools – www.substi.co.nz
If relieving is a consideration for you, then here are a few pointers that may help you.
Five First Steps for Finding Favourable Work
- It’s a good idea to research schools in the areas you may like to teach. You can do this by googling the school websites to get a feel for those you like.
- Make phone contact with the school to organise an appointment so you can introduce yourself as a new reliever.
- Remember to show a keen interest by asking to be shown around the school and note where the useful areas are such as the library, the resource room, the photocopier, and sports equipment storage. Ask if you can have access to the wifi and photocopier passwords.
- Full-time teachers will be very appreciative to be released for play and lunch duties, so remember to offer your services. Make sure you familiarise yourself with timeframes expectations, boundaries, playground rules & procedures.
- Planning ahead and being well prepared is a good idea. Get the contact details of the class teacher to introduce yourself and request further class information.
Positive Preparation Points
Promptness is important, so ensure that you arrive half an hour or more before the first bell. Introduce yourself and sign in at the office. Ask for directions if needed then go to the classroom and spend some time talking to the children in your class. This is an opportunity to get to know them and learn a few names.
Presentation and first appearances count, so consider smart, sensible, semi-formal attire for indoor and outdoor lessons and remember to wear a smile.
Plan well ahead with the day’s timetable, the class list, any Teacher Aide’s names and roles, children with particular needs, and those being withdrawn for lessons.
Prepare extra work or activities for speedy workers, extending brighter students or catering for slower learners. Word finds, scribble art, group games, playing cards, and stories are all helpful.
Paperwork is expected to be marked and remember to write a summary of the day for the class teacher as this is often always appreciated. Leave a tidy room and return equipment for the next day.
Management Makes a Marvellous Day
I still see great benefits of calling the roll from a hard copy list of children’s names. It allows a one on one connection with each student and ensuring the correct pronunciation of their name.
Explain the expectations for the day and quickly revise any class rules. Ask about any special seating arrangements, certain responsibilities or jobs, the communication used for leaving the room, and so on.
Discuss what independent learning and asking for help looks like. Discuss being responsible for having the right equipment for lessons, knowing where to find resources, reference materials, and also returning things to the correct place.
Be sure that you have some understanding of how rewards and consequences work in the class or create your own for the day. Points, tally marks or sticker systems seem to work as a good visual with rewards like 10 minutes free choice activities as a reward, or a small gift choice. When a consequence is required, the suggestion of practising a behaviour or finishing a piece of work during a period of playtime is a good deterrent for children.
Gaining the children’s attention by the use of a ‘Stop Look Listen’ cue before giving instructions can eliminate wasted time. Check the normal way the class is brought to attention or develop one of your own. Using a clap pattern, a chant, a bell tinkle, chime bars, music, or some other suitable method can work well. Practice this a few times.
Providing positive feedback for positive behaviour and sharing great work that the students are doing (with their permission) can encourage others to step up for similar recognition. Always encourage ‘Being the Best they Can Be.’
The Substi App (www.substi.co.nz)
The Substi App provides a platform for schools and relief teachers to connect easily online. My Substi team and I have developed Substi during these past 3 to 4 years. It has proven to be extremely robust and helpful for schools and in particular, a secure and useful way for relief teachers to connect with schools of their choosing.
Take a look at the Substi website substi.co.nz
Registering is easy online. You will need your MoE number and Teaching Registration number. Simply go to www.substi.co.nz or download the Substi App. Register as a teacher and complete the required fields. Once this is completed and you have selected the schools you prefer, a request is automatically emailed to those schools for their acceptance. It is then the school’s responsibility to vet your profile and contact you for further information or confirmation.
Substi allows you to be in control of your working days. A calendar feature on your Substi dashboard, enables you to tap the days you wish to block. When a teaching position is created on the school’s dashboard, your name will only be displayed when you are available.
You will not be bothered by the school if you already have a booking. When viewing your dashboard calendar, your booked days will be circled. Hover the cursor over the circled day to see details of the school, year level, class, absent teacher’s name, and any other helpful information the school communicates.
Your dashboard will provide a ready reference for you to view your teaching jobs for up to a year ahead.
Substi is fast, safe, and certain. Notifications from schools come through Your Substi App, messenger & alert systems. You simply view, tap accept, and wait for confirmation: Click – Connect – Teach.
Substi is transforming the future for schools and relief/substitute teachers. Join up as we move forward.
Wishing you all the best with your teaching career.
Erris Scott – Teacher and Founder of Substi
Other great information sources for relief teachers
Our Relief Teacher Survival Kit
Be prepared for any classroom with our relief teacher activities pack. This pack features reading, writing, math, spelling, creative thinking, and early finisher activities, as well as certificates to reward fantastic behaviour. Click here to see more.