If you have decided to take on casual/relief work during your first year as a teacher, this is a fantastic opportunity to develop your craft and skills as an educator.
It is rare for teachers to have the chance to experience a wide range of classrooms, setups, routines, and approaches to education like relief teaching offers.
When you are working in schools on a casual basis, you get to see teaching from many different perspectives.
As a casual teacher, you won’t have colleague support in the same way as you would working in one school. Often we learn the best tricks of the trade from other teachers we work alongside.
With this in mind, we decided to put this blog post together as a reference for all the relief teachers out there, as a way to share some of our tips and tricks when we are packing our bag for a day of casual teaching.
So here we go… 5 items we like to keep in our casual teacher bag:
1. Stationery Supplies
It is good to have a personal pencil case of supplies that you can use throughout the day. We like to include:
• Some pens to mark with
• A stamp (a personalised stamp** is a great investment when you teach casually)
• Basic stickers
• A whiteboard marker
• Some band-aids and
• A pack of sticky notes
Why sticky notes, you say? They are a simple behaviour management system we like to use. At the beginning of each day, every child in the class gets a sticky note to put on their desk. Ask them to write their names on their notes because that also doubles as a way for you to learn and use their names throughout the day. Every time a student works well, shows good choices, etc., you give them a stamp or tally mark on their sticky note. Then at the end of the session/day, you can reward the children with the most stamps. It could be an early dismissal to lunch with a friend, a prize you bring along, a special sticker or they get to choose a game for the class to play etc.
2. Favourite Picture Books
Students of all ages love listening to a picture book. They are a great way to transition from lessons, to use as a brain break, to settle a class after they come in from a break, or even use as a last-minute lesson. Take along a book review template to have up your sleeve just in case you need an activity or additional task for fast finishers.
Some favourite authors of ours that kids always love are Aaron Blabey, Oliver Jeffers, and Mem Fox. We also love the Kobi Yamada series of books that explore Growth Mindset. Read about those books here.
3. A Backup Lesson
It is always worthwhile to pack some printables you can have on hand for those times that a plan isn’t left or when interruptions happen, and you need to be flexible. A number of the day is always our go-to back up lesson. Grab a free version of Number of the Day here.
Teacher Tip: If you come across worksheets that you like while you are casual teaching, make a copy for yourself and keep them in a folder. That way, you will be growing a personal resource full of great ideas and lessons to use.
4. A Teacher Feedback Form and Thank you Card
It is important that you communicate with the class teacher about what happened during the day. Explain the lessons that were completed, how the students went, who was absent and any other things that may have occurred during the day. Try to be as positive as you can. A little thank you card can also go a long way.
5. A Packet of Uno Cards
This one might seem a little left of centre, but a simple packet of UNO cards can be used for so many different things:
- Give each student a card and use the colours or numbers to sort students into groups
- Use to play a class game (we like to play a place value game where you make a 2, 3 or 4-digit number and give the students clues to try and work out what the mystery number. Another idea is the teacher takes turns flipping one card at a time for students to try and make the largest 4, 5, or 6 digit number.
- A resource for fast finishers. Students can add them, subtract them, multiply them, sort them etc. We have a blog post dedicated to things students can do with UNO cards. Read it here.
There you have it, 5 things we always pack in our casual teacher bag. What is something you can’t live without when casual teaching?
Need help with more than just getting started? This resource is a sample of our Casual Teacher Starter Kit, which you are going to love!
Need more help, strategies and advice as a casual relief teacher? We have created something special you are going to LOVE!
This resource is designed to provide you with a one-stop-shop to help you with all your questions and queries as a casual teacher. It includes preparation and planning checklists, easy to understand information about the general role of a casual teacher, a place to store teaching inspiration, ideas, reflections, and 30+ printables to use as ready to go lessons!
Finally, are you new to teaching? You should come over and join our New Teacher Facebook Group. It is an awesome community and safe place where you can all ask questions, seek help, and support other teachers just like you. Join us here.