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Understanding planning- how to cope when you don't?!

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by thm16, Nov 4, 2015.

  1. thm16

    thm16 New commenter

    I have recently completed a morning in a class which was my first call in an unfamiliar school. When I arrived the class teacher was on hand to very quickly got through the planning as the children were due in minutes. After a quick overview of the morning and glance over the planning I felt happy I knew what I needed to be doing and off I went. During the maths lesson in particular I found that the starter was irrelevant to the main part and took half of the lesson up and the resources left weren't clear enough of what I needed to do with them. I just felt that there was too much going on. I also made the mistake of getting the class to do the activity at the same time which caused chaos as I wasn't sure and couldn't sort out the children properly (basically a disaster!) As this was happening mid lesson I couldn't go and ask anyone. I managed to resolve it by just sitting them all on the carpet and going through the worksheet set for the few minutes left. But I just felt it was because the planning wasn't clear and straightforward enough to follow for someone who doesn't know the class or teacher. Came away upset and feeling negative about the whole supply experience.

    I'm posting this as the chance of it happening again is probably likely as an NQT with not much experience yet so was wondering the best cause of action to resolve it.
  2. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    @hannahmorris2010 It's happened to us all.

    Primary supply is particularly prone to this - teachers often do a lot of the planning 'in their heads' and don't write everything down. If the class teacher had delivered the lesson they may well have altered the plans as it became apparent that the starter was far too long. Some primary schools use published schemes of work for Maths and these are so jam packed with activities that it really wouldn't be possible to teach to the depth required by the NC if you followed them word for word.

    Just put it down to experience - you are an NQT so don't beat yourself up. Your next assignment will be so much better.:)
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Snowyhead is right: your next assignment will be easier and please don't beat yourself up. With experience, you will be able to adapt what has been left for you. As long as you follow what has been left, you don't have to get through all of the work. Sometimes teachers tend to leave more than you can get through anyway. Just leave a note for the teacher about what went particularly well or any part of the lesson they will need to review with the children.

    Schools expect you to do a professional job, but they don't expect miracles. I work in secondary and have covered many classes where I thought the lesson did not go that well, but schools keep asking me back. Usually, we are too hard on ourselves. Sometimes just to keep the class safe and on task for the day is an achievement.

    You will find some planning better than others, but as long as you follow the teacher's instructions then you should be o.k. even if you have to alter the lesson slightly.
  4. supply287

    supply287 New commenter

    Perhaps look at the work they are expected to complete in books or on sheets. Decide how much time they need for it. Use any flip chart or resources prepared if it fits well and you can follow , but focus on what they need to know to do their work - for example model first one or two questions for each group with the same values in them. Keep it simple as you can .
  5. Findlotte

    Findlotte Established commenter

    I'm a Cover Supervisor and this happens in secondary too.
    I arrive at 8am and handed my lessons for the day (this could be any subject across the school) which consists of a top-sheet with a section for teachers to describe what tasks they want me to deliver. Sometimes it's so vague it's useless, or the task isn't complex enough and the students finish it too fast, or my favourite, when no work is provided and I have to improvise...

    It happens, it's our job.
  6. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    It shouldn't happen and it's not your job. Cover supervisers and HLTAs should work under the supervision of a qualified teacher. They are exploiting you and the pupils you are timetabled to cover.
    naomi29, sarahjsheen89 and pepper5 like this.
  7. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I go into schools expecting the planning to be vague or scarce. After all, a lot of the time it has been either:

    a) Written by the class teacher who expected to be there to deliver it themselves. After all, why would you write 190 lots of daily planning in enough detail on the off-chance you might fall ill? It's a waste of time.

    b) Hastily scribbled down by an HOD who's got their own class barging through the door and had just 5 minutes notice of their colleague's absence.

    c) Email in by a groggy teacher who is too ill to work but felt obliged to send in some cover work.

    Supply teaching really requires a lot of think on your feet.
    rachelpaula008 and pepper5 like this.
  8. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Very good points Eva.

    Some of the best cover lessons I have had have been in schools where the departments have developed a bank of one off lessons which are easily teachable by a non-specialist but are interesting enough to keep the students learning. You are right though with supply you have to be able to think on your feet and think of something quickly when nothing has been left or tweak what has been left if you need to and it does come with practice.

    Out of all the time I have been on supply I can say most of the time the lessons left for me have been of excellent quality and In always leave a note thanking the teacher when they have been able to leave detailed plans. Even if it is a hastily sent email, I leave a note to thank the teacher. Most of the time even if colleagues are busy they will stop and help me if I can't find materials or resources. I've never been left to fend for myself too many times, so I have been blessed if I really think about it.
  9. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I should add that if I was in the position where my agency was only negotiating cover supervisor wages for me (e.g. £50 per day) and there was no cover work/inadequate work set, I wouldn't be stretching my teaching muscles too far to help out. If they want me to improvise and TEACH I require a teacher's salary.
  10. thm16

    thm16 New commenter

    Thank you all for your helpful comments I'll keep these in mind for next time.

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