Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Young Secondary Teacher's Guide To Preparing For An Absent Day

All teachers will have days away from their class. These days should not interrupt the learning process. Therefore, if you believe you are likely to be away sick tomorrow, then plan today, the work that you will leave for the relief teacher. Make sure you leave clear, detailed instructions on your desk where it is easy to find. Worksheets need to be based on the current work units which will help consolidate the students' learning.

If it turns out you are not sick and you return to your classes tomorrow, use this work to ease your day and aid your full recovery.

Planned school meetings or personal appointments are often known well in advance. Therefore, it is possible to work your teaching program around it so that the absent period can be used for revision tests and/or consolidation work. Leave more work than can be completed by the students for the period you are absent.

Included below are a series of strategies designed to help young teachers keep the learning process going forward during their absence.

• If you know you will be absent well in advance, plan your program so that you can prepare a practice test or activity.

• Ensure there is more work than can be done in the period to keep the class busy.

• If you leave a revision test, it should contain a variety of questions/activities that vary in difficulty from easy to hard. They must be directly related to your latest teaching unit and, if necessary, to other units to be tested in the next exam. You might like to include answers so that the relief teacher can give some guidance to students as to their success in the practice test. It will also help fill in the period time. It might also be important to suggest a time limit on the practice test so the less able don't get restless and misbehave. (This is a good ploy for less able secondary classes).

• Set some critical thinking exercises to extend your best students.

• Include an activity related to your work unit that can be an extra exercise for those who can do no more of the set work or have finished.

• If you expect the class to work on their assignments, you must give the relief teacher detailed instructions on the assignment plus copies of the assignment to provide for those who don't turn up with what is required.

• Leave practical work only if you know you have a relief teacher who has expertise in your area. If you don't know what relief teacher is coming, add an alternative set of activities. Remember to include advice as to where the equipment is and how to obtain a key.

• Include a class roll for each class and any advice the teacher needs to know about students.

• If there are room changes, specify them. Indicate where the relief teacher might find the students if they don't arrive.

• Above all, give activities that are on the topics being studied for the next exam. Ensure there is much to do and that every student has work that will occupy him/her for more than the whole period.

• Attach homework that the relief teacher would give to the class and follow up by checking and correcting during the next period. This homework could be to complete the revision test. Set a time limit on the homework.

• Indicate where the relief teacher can get help, both subject and discipline wise.

• Leave the relief teacher a fun consolidation/easy problem solving exercise that all can try to finish the lesson after the answers are given to the practice test or other set activities.

When you return to school, you must check what has been done, answering any questions and reteaching any problem areas so that students see you are serious about work to be done during your absences. If you don't do this, then your students will not treat work that you leave when you are absent seriously. This will make the relief teacher's day more difficult than it should be.

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