Ensuring that school is fun

With the majority of children going back to school this week or next, many teachers are trying to ensure that the children feel happy to be back and can settle back in to a good routine. Many children have been off school for almost 6 months and so it may take a bit of time before things can settle down again. School is not like it used to be prior to the Corona Virus, so although much of the routine has been reintroduced, still many activities and they way the day is set out has changed.

It is a known fact that children learn better when a subject is taught in a fun and exciting way. Often adults remember one or two specific lessons from their time at school that were particularly exciting.

As a teacher you will have a hard job this year. There is a fair bit of work to catch up on. It is important to not get too overly worried about the amount of work to get through and instead focus on ensuring that the children are happy and able to adapt back to school life.

If you are struggling for ideas on how to make lessons fun but also Covid safe, then the internet can be a great source, full of educational websites and forums where other professionals share their ideas and previous success stories.

Adult learning options

Going back into education can see like a backstep for some, but often you must go back to be able to go forward. Investing the time to go back in to education can open up a whole new world to you and allow you to go in to careers that were simply not available to you before.  When it comes to working or further education after school, you often have a number of options open to you. The government now states that any child reaching the age of 16 must stay in full-time education, for example at a college, start an apprenticeship or traineeship or spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training. This is until they reach the age of 18.

If this law was not in play when you left school, you may have chosen to not to stay on at school and complete GCSE’s or do A-levels. This may mean that you do not have the qualifications to go straight into a degree.  Often if you can do a simple one year access course at college which will get you back in to learning and give you an idea of what adult learning is like. you may decide that a college setting is more for you so you chose to enrol in one of those.

What are my responsibilities as a supply teacher?

When you are working as a supply teacher either for a school that you are familiar with or through an agency it is not always clear what your responsibilities are beyond the obvious ones of teaching the class and making sure that safeguarding guidelines are followed to the letter. Some schools have a clear policy on what they expect of a supply teacher but many haven’t so if you want to be offered work on a regular basis it is important that you create the right impression and fulfil the duties expected of you in a particular school.

Some teachers whose classes you cover will leave work for the children to do and expect this to be carried out as their guidance. This is especially the case with older children who often have a fixed curriculum to cover in a given timeframe. If this is the case it is important to carry out the teacher’s instructions as fully as possible. A brief note to the teacher outlining how the day went is a valuable way to communicate but should focus on the positive aspects if possible.

Sometimes if a supply teacher is needed to cover for an unexpected absence no work has been allocated so it is a good idea to have lessons up your sleeve that can be adapted to the age group you are teaching. Always mark any work that either you or the teacher has set, checking with the school marking policy or a senior member of staff if in doubt as to the level of marking required.

Making a job share in a primary school work for you

If you are returning to work after maternity leave or simply wish to reduce the hours you are working, you may be considering taking on a job share. This is often an excellent way to address the work life balance that many teachers find challenging and can even benefit the pupils in school.

The first question to ask is how the job is going to be divided up. Is it going to be a fifty-fifty split or is one employee going to do more than another? Obviously, this will result in a difference in pay too and will be directly proportional to the hours or days worked.

The next consideration is curriculum subject responsibility. Some job shares work best when a teacher’s strengths are utilised so that, for example a teacher who enjoys and is good at art leads that subject and a teacher whose strengths lie in technology takes responsibility for computer studies. This strategy is going to be of benefit to the pupils in the class as they are getting twice the expertise than they would normally.

There are some curriculum subjects that both teachers will need to teacher however the burden of planning and marking can be shared making these time-consuming tasks less onerous.

Exams in a small school setting

There are many different types of primary schools ranging from the large inner-city school with hundreds of pupils to a small rural school with possibly only thirty pupils on roll. Which ever sort of school you find yourself in, one thing is certain the pupils in that school will have to face sitting exams. It may be internal exams, or those compulsory exams instigated by the authorities.

In a small school setting, there may only be a small number of children sitting the exams and therefore the rest of the class need to be accommodated and catered for. As staffing is sometimes an issue this needs careful planning in advance of the exams.

Meetings with parents beforehand even though there may only be two or three sets of parents is essential to answer any questions and allay any fears they may have concerning the administration of the exams and give them ideas on how their children can be better prepared.

Although having to sit compulsory exams of any sort can be very stressful for pupils in any school, in a small primary school setting the children may have more opportunity to discuss their concerns and fears thus minimising their stress.