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Thoughts on Supply teachers adapting work set

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by Moony, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    So I'm having this exchange with a cover supervisor about how I handle cover work thats been set by the normal teacher (i'm a supply teacher at the moment), and specifically how I'll work with it to do the best for the group i'm with any given lesson.

    Now clearly if i've been left work that is a list of activities and there's lots of meaningful work I stick to that, especially if on general cover or in a subject area that isn't my own, however if I am either in my subject area or one of the other subjects my degree covers I'll be more fluid with the work. The exchange revolves around comments I've made about cover work set for my specialism (science), the work in question has simply been the name of the text book along with some page numbers and instructions to do the questions. Now personally if i get given cover work as basic as that I don't feel happy just writing that on the board so I've actually just used that to feed into a basic lesson of 'recap, teach the science, questions from the book to consolidate'.

    The bit that the CS really didn't like was when I said that in a school recently I had a number of lessons in which that book/pages/questions style work had been set and the kids had already done it, so thinking on my feet i turned the book pages to find some science they hadn't done and did my ad lib lesson from that. Now I know that sticking with the set work is the ideal senario but if it's an actual repeat (this one teacher had been off for a while and one of the lessons cover work i recognised from the last time i'd been in and covered for the same teacher) I'd have thought that even though I was only at the school for a day that I should be using my professional judgement to make sure that the kids get a decent lesson.

    I've been accused of arrogance because of this and I've corrected them on that matter. Especially as I always ensure I leave feedback in terms of behaviour, praise and work covered....and even making sure I speak to one of the teachers in the department to let them know about significant changes to any set work by myself.

    So I'm curious, which would you prefer? A supply that just stuck to the work robotically no matter what or one that used their skills, knowledge and expertise to make sure the kids had an effective lesson?
     
  2. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    I think in this scenario you did exactly the right thing, and no one could argue that you should have taught the same lesson again, particularly as you could prove the lesson had been taught before to the same class (I'd be wary of taking the kids' word for it). Just one thought that came into my mind: is there a possibility that this particular class needed reinforcement of that learning, rather than new learning? Apologies if this seems daft, but I'm a foreign language teacher and sometimes you'd be surprised how many times I could do pretty much the same lesson with the same class a week later and they still don't get it! If it happened again, I'd be tempted to do an oral recap of the exercises covered, then see if you could extend on the same topic but with different material, rather than moving on to the next chapter. Just a thought.
    To be honest, I've had so many bad experiences with cover work not being done as specifically instructed (I've even had a CS once putting on a DVD because they couldn't find the sheets I'd left on the desk, clearly labelled with seating plan and everything!) that I'd take someone with a bit of initiative any day. But that school sounds like they may have a bit of a long-term issue with setting work, so perhaps they're passing on the blame elsewhere?
     
  3. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    Oh the CS in question isn't someone from that school, it's another TES user. The CSs i've encountered in that school have all been decent enough people and recognise that as I a teacher I bring in that higher level of school. And I don't just glibly accept the word of the kids, i'll look in their books and check with any TAs that might be with the group. To be honest this CS seems to be on a crusade to point out how CSs are better than supplies, I've got no problem with the people that work as CSs myself although I am still sceptical of the long term benefit of the CS role. The best bit is when he/she writes stuff that highlights their lack of understanding of teaching....like when they tried to say that NQTs don't have QTS.
     

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