Supply? It’s just babysitting isn’t it? Nothing really gets learnt. Right?
Spending sometimes only a matter of minutes with a class you might never see again can sometimes feel like you’re only there to pass the time, but of course we’re not. And wouldn’t it be good to debunk a few of those supply teacher myths by showing some amazing evidence of learning before you leave.
Here are some ideas of how to show the students, the other staff, even yourself; that learning did happen, actually, thank you very much, and here’s some stuff to prove it. Oh, and have a bit of fun too.
Showing you’ve learnt something in a way other than writing it in an exercise book can sometimes give it a little more stickability - if that’s a word, just to make it a bit more memorable. And helps us as supply teachers to add a little variety into sometimes monotonous cover work. For this reason I try to get students active and out of their seats during the plenary, it also helps break up a long lesson of seated work and helps get things moving to leave the room too.
This week try:
Lines of agreement
Blu Tak a piece of paper marked ‘agree’ on one wall and ‘disagree’ on another, ask students to position themselves along an imaginary line according to different statements. They can then give explanations verbally or in writing.
‘Romeo is to blame for Juliet’s death’
‘Average is really the same as mode and median’
‘I can remember the names of 10 colours in German’
‘Everyone should be vegetarian’
This can be run as whole class, or take turns in small groups, pairs or individuals
Students can write answer on a post it note before they leave and stick on the wall of their choice, with their name on and these can be left there for the next lesson or collected up and saved for the teacher to return.
Invest in a roll of backing paper from B and Q or something similar that can easily stretch out along a wall or set of tables in a classroom. Make it easy to access and write on. At the start of a session write the learning objective or key questions or topic heading at one end. In red pen ask the students to write down a statement of what they already know about it, if anything, with initials next to it.
At half way point in the lesson, or at intervals ongoing throughout, ask students to add to the timeline further along in orange pen with anything new learned (again with initials or name).
Revisit again at the end of the session with green pens with their final learning on the last section of the paper. This should help show progression and give students a chance to walk about as we all know they like an excited to wander. They must have written three things before they can leave though.
Plan starter for next lesson
Not the most active one but a real nice way of making sure the learning today feels part of their normal learning with their usual teacher. Wouldn’t it be great if Miss didn’t have to plan the start of next lesson because it’s already done for her? On a post it note write three questions we could use to test ourselves at the the beginning of next lesson. Stick on the board / door / teachers hand before leaving the room. Leave these on the desk with a note for the absent staff member: ‘starter ideas sorted for when you get back to work. Get well soon, love, Mr Supply’
More heads better than one
Set students into small groups. Take 4 X A3 or A2 sheets (or as many teams as you have) and either put on tables or stick on walls around the room. On each write a different question or topic that has been learned about. Assign one team to one paper. Students write their names along the top or the back.
In their teams students have 2 minutes (or any time limit you decide) to write as much as possible on the set subject / topic / question. There can be a reward for the most answers. This paper can be left on the walls of the room as a glorious legacy of learning for all to enjoy.
Ask the expert
Either as a whole class or in groups assign an expert (or one expert per group) who is confident to answer any question on the learning of the day. Other students then take turns fire questions at them mastermind style. You can help students prepare questions first so they have thinking time. If you have permission and resources you can film this and upload to shared area for teacher / students to watch back next session.
For all this work the incentive can be when you’ve done it and bag packed etc you can be released.