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covering a long term absent teacher, big issues help!

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by anon1369, Feb 23, 2011.

  1. I'm doing a short stint in a school as the teacher is off sick and has been all year. Therefore the classes have had loads of different supply teachers for the year. The classes are totally unruly as I am just another supply in their eyes. They have no structure, don't listen, don't do work etc.

    It looks like I will be taking over the teachers classes until they return which is unknown due to the nature of the absence. It could be a week it could be a month, no one knows. These classes have been without structure for so long that they are awful.

    I don't know how I can turn these classes around. I'm only an nqt and this feels like a massive task. Even their old teacher is going to struggle upon their return. Obviously interesting lessons are key but I am not given the work until the start of each lesson and even then it is boring. I have no facilities, no computer so can't use the interactive white boards and also no normal white boards. The children struggle to concentrate without something to focus on.

    Half their work is missing, half their books are missing. It is rather chaotic. What can I do? Any tips to help get them back on track? Behavior is very poor, sanctions are difficult as I don't know their names. Seating plans have gone awol. Argghh help!
     
  2. I'm doing a short stint in a school as the teacher is off sick and has been all year. Therefore the classes have had loads of different supply teachers for the year. The classes are totally unruly as I am just another supply in their eyes. They have no structure, don't listen, don't do work etc.

    It looks like I will be taking over the teachers classes until they return which is unknown due to the nature of the absence. It could be a week it could be a month, no one knows. These classes have been without structure for so long that they are awful.

    I don't know how I can turn these classes around. I'm only an nqt and this feels like a massive task. Even their old teacher is going to struggle upon their return. Obviously interesting lessons are key but I am not given the work until the start of each lesson and even then it is boring. I have no facilities, no computer so can't use the interactive white boards and also no normal white boards. The children struggle to concentrate without something to focus on.

    Half their work is missing, half their books are missing. It is rather chaotic. What can I do? Any tips to help get them back on track? Behavior is very poor, sanctions are difficult as I don't know their names. Seating plans have gone awol. Argghh help!
     
  3. Hi, I kinda know how you have been feeling but my situation is not as extreme as yours. I too am covering long term sick and don't know how long this job will last. I've been at the school for two weeks now and I pretty much wait until the end of each week, keep my fingers crossed and hope to be asked back on Monday. So far so good, apparently I'm doing a great job but the uncertainty kills me. I am also just an NQT so sometimes still feel like 'the student' and a bit unsure of what I should expect or should be expected of me. I'm pretty much going with the flow and doing my best at the minute. How long have you been at the school already and which year group have you got?
    I'm with Y1 and although they too have had quite a few supply teachers in their class, they seem to have begun to settle with me after 2 weeks. Maybe because they are so young, it might be different with older ones though. Unlike you, I do have access to the whiteboard and I cant imagine having to deal with no board to display pictures, model work etc. Have you not got or can borrow a laptop from anywhere so you can access the board. You said the work they give you is boring and is given at the start of every day? This confuses me considering your covering the class possibly long term and therefore only you will know how the children are progressing. I have been lucky in the sense that I get to decide what they are doing. I plan in advance and can do my best to make my lessons as fun and as interesting as possible. Is there no one you can talk to about your concerns? If I was you, I would talk to one of the teachers I am most chatty with and just casually explain how I would love to plan my own ideas etc. I would also take it upon myself to make a seating plan. I would ask someone who knew the class about the children and make a seating plan. Then you would instantly show the children you mean business and put some structure back into the classroom. Especially if its you leading the class on a more permanent basis, you surely cant be expected to just struggle.
     
  4. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Agree absolutely with thecomments by beats_56
    I took over a class in Jan last year & first thing I did was draw up a seating plan, tell the class I was going to be with them until their 'ordinary' teacher is well enough to return, ensure rewards were in place & generally treated the class as though I was going to be there long-term- which in the end I was until July! Now I still hadn't got the all the classes where I'd have liked by the summer, but on the whole they did eventually mostly settle in to my ways.(I had taken over from a much younger, trendy teacher who was very popular with the students, so it was always going to be a bit of an uphill struggle.)
    NB. Bit of advice I was given on a supply Inset day (back in the days when we had them) was to treat any new day/ group of students as though you were going to be there for good, establish yourself just as you would with any class.
     
  5. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    I've just done a few weeks a bit like you describe but probably not quite as rough, given that I'm an old git and know a few tricks. However, I still get loopy lessons with some groups and this is how I respond:
    Try a back to basics approach - line em up outside, have their books ready on a table just inside the door so no time is wasted handing them out. Challenge minor uniform infringements on entry, making them correct things outside the room. If their book's been 'lost' replace it with as new one so nobody has an excuse. Have date/title on the board, and sheets/books on desks ready. Carry pencils with you to lend out, give HW instructions first thing so they all have to produce planners/diaries and do a heads down task straight away. Anyone without book/planner/pen after first lesson of new regime gets punished. Give warnings about consequences of poor behaviour in a calm level headed manner, then follow up (ie move within room, ejection from room, going to HoD's room etc). Patrol constantly, offer help and encouragement, share a joke if it seems right to do so, and nag idlers about work rate - anyone being an idle *** is not following your instructions and should be punished as such. Don't tolerate phones or iPods - confiscate on sight. Refusal to hand over should be referred higher up the food chain. Any major indiscipline ask HoD to have them for a couple of lessons to get them out of sight for a bit. Find out what their targets are and write them in the back cover of their books. Refer to them constantly - they're an instant reference point. Mark the class's work promptly and give proper feedback. Eventually you will whittle them down. Never lose your rag - the first time you start ranting they've won.
     
  6. jubilee

    jubilee Lead commenter

    If there are no seating plans you will create issues simply by devising new ones. The pupils will loudly declaim that their seat is elsewhere and they are allowed to sit near x,y & z etc.
    You can avoid that by getting in early one day and rearranging the tables and chairs. If the room allows, I favour a chevron pattern with a middle aisle and another two on the right and left hand sides of the room and tables angled so that all pupils are facing the centre front of the room. This arrangement gives easy access to all pupils and the focus is on the area where you are likely to be standing when starting the lesson (+ all get a good view of the board).
    Changing the layout also stamps your authority on the room. If they object and say that Miss or Sir has it differently, simply state that when their regular teacher returns the room may be put back as it was, but for now it's your teaching room and your seating plan.
    Place pupils boy/girl in alphabetical order and this will make learning names easier.. Do initial plans in pencil to allow for necessary separations of incompatible pupils. Ask the office for photo lists of each class(several copies of each) and pencil tick their picture if they misbehave. You will then start to keep some track on behaviour and can establish DTs.
    Find out if there are any old-fashioned whiteboards in storage that can be fixed to a wall (arrange seating to face it) or a mobile whiteboard/flipchart stand. Even an old-style overhead projector where you beam diagrams/text on acetates onto the existing screen would allow you to prepare stuff and display write in the lesson. Do you have your own laptop?
    You also need to ask for the schemes of work so that you have an idea of what is coming up and what has already been done (after a fashion!)
    With the resources issues in the room and the behaviours, I'd be wanting a text book to get them back on track. There's already a structure and progression built into textbooks and classes that have lost the plot usually need to be deprived of the 'fun and games' exercises that allow them to get more excitable and out of control.

     
  7. Whoops sorry don't know what happened to my paragraphs! Thank you for all the great tips, they should be a great help!
    I have only been at the school for a few days so have yet to teach all of the timetabled classes. As I am secondary I have a wide range of classes from year 7 through 11. Also some of the classes are exam classes so these are being taken by other members of staff and I am given their class, so my timetable is not set in stone yet.
    Beats 56, I know what you mean about still feeling like the student, that's exactly what I am like, I like to confirm something with a ‘proper' teacher before I do it. Also, the fact I am young and look so young is already being picked up by ALL the classes who ask me numerous times how old I am, have I just left school, am I a sixth former?!
    As I have only been in for a few days the work has been provided to me because I don't know where they are up to, what they have done etc. I am going to try and get hold of the SOW and start planning my own lessons, but everything is so uncertain and the school might inform me tomorrow that I am no longer needed. I won't find out if I am needed next week until fri or even mon.
    I have got my own laptop but I have got a feeling I will not be able to use it to connect to the school network but will check this. It really is very difficult having to try and teach without a focal point. I have however been told that the school are not willing to give supply teachers a school laptop to use.
    As for trying to get hold of old normal whiteboards, that's not a possibility either. I also cannot move desks around as they are science labs so the desks are fixed, and I have to move from room to room which means that the layouts are all different.
    Magic thanks for all those tips, I understand going back to basics is probably needed. The first few days have been a bit chaotic as I get to grips with things so hopefully once I settle in everything will calm down a bit. Many of the students books are missing or were not in the room I was teaching in so I need to locate them for a start! I do patrol constantly but with the more lively classes all I am doing is running around after them putting them back in their seats. I think a ‘classroom etiquette' lesson is required with some!
    The staff are great and the HoD is going to help me out with a particularly difficult class and we are going to try and locate the seating plans for all the classes, or create new ones. Jubilee I love the idea of getting photo class lists, I will definitely be asking about this! The worrying thing is the work which is set is already text book work and they're still crazy and out of control even with a lack of excitement!
    Really long post sorry! Thanks for all the help, but I will be disappointed if I do all this and then find out I am no longer needed for next week.

     
  8. I would make a seating plan and I would ask a member of staff to help.
    You have to have a whiteboard of some sort, normal or electronic
    I would also do a flagship lesson on something or adapt that something from the past which I know works well.
    I would do a flagship lesson then invent a marking scheme and comment on their work, green pen nowadays.
    One of the problems these classes will have is that there has been no assessment or feedback for a long time.
    I would also make every attempt to tidy the classroom for entry so it all looks teacherlike
     

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