Monday, July 11, 2005

Tips for First Time Relief Teachers

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.



Inhale. Exhale.



Relax..................



Whoever said being a relief teacher was an easy job with easy pay? Smack the bugger in the face right now... it's NOT that easy...

Ok, it's definitely better than being a regular teacher, but it still isn't that easy all the time.

Here then, are some tips [and shocks] for aspiring relief teachers. Add this onto all those simple info like "show up at school at 730am" and "Just get them to do some worksheets" that the school will tell you.

1. UNDERSTAND THE TYPE OF CLASS YOU'RE IN

Being relief, you will have no choice in what kind of class you will be teaching. If you're lucky, you will have a relatively well-behaved class, and this is what will happen the minute you walk in:

"Class, stand!" Everyone stands up, and greets "Good morning, teacher." and sits down again, looking at you with curious eyes, wondering what happened to their regular teacher.

If you're unlucky enough, and the class you're relieving happens to be one of the 'bottom' ones:

"RAHAHAHAHAEHEHEHEHCHERCOMELIAO!!!!HAHAHAHA" and other classroom gibberish. One or two boys will be running around the classroom, despite your fervent attempts to catch them and bring them to their seats, another group in the corner will be blatantly ignoring you, and playing their own games, and when you try to speak, a chorus of childish voices will totally drown you, and leave you to die.

And all this while their teacher is either a) at home trying to recover from the high blood pressure and heart failure his kids have induced in him or b) happily out shopping because her relative's a doctor and she got a free MC, while you desperately try to control her class.

2. ALWAYS BE FIRM.

This means never smile, never joke, never play games, never let them do their own thing, never talk to them, never reply their inane questions, never back down on anything you say, never show weakness, never show hesitation.

In other words, switch off the humanity and act like your old, grumpy Chinese teacher with the bad dress sense and the perpetual PMS.

This is vitally IMPORTANT if you ever want the class to do what you want. Because the moment you let slip your guard, and they know that you are human and therefore FALLIBLE, you are so doomed. They will run circles around you like dogs in heat.

Some people may say, "Oh, but that's so fierce! What if I scare the little darlings?" and I say, "[insert name of animal faeces]" remember that you are outnumbered 40 to 1 in a classroom, and that if they were to suddenly realise that they could all scream, shout or run out of the class and you wouldn't be able to stop them all, you are so screwed.

If you were outnumbered 40 to 1 by a gang of ferocious hounds, would you go, "Oh lookit the cute little doggies!" and try to pet them? Same concept.

3. NEVER TOLERATE ANY BEHAVIOUR YOU DID NOT ENDORSE

No one goes to the toilet without your permission. No one goes to the bookshelf without your permission. No one drinks water without your permission. No one talks without your permission. No one even lies on the table to sleep without your permission.

This is now part of classroom discipline. Establish yourself as Most Revered And To Be Obeyed Leader of the Pack. This is once again important, in order to get the class to listen to you. If they feel that you can't lead, they will never listen to you.

And if you survived your relief teaching, and you're out of class, you may do the last thing, which is:

4. RECLAIM YOUR HUMANITY

Shop. Eat. Drink. Chat. SMS. Become human again, and shed off the Dictator For Life persona you were carrying in the classroom. For one, it will endear you to your peers a whole lot more.

20 comments:

petals said...

very sensible tips and would most likely work in my school, except perhaps the NT classes.

other tricks that one can consider:
1] to give them a piece of assignment and tell them tis a test
2] threaten to detain them during recess or after school
3] switching off all the fans in the class to reinstate order if they go crazy but this can get rather unbearable for the RT him/herself

blablabla said...

I dislike teachers like that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
No offence but as a secondary school student, I like teachers that come in and make small talk with us.

About the no permission thing, I once had a teacher who forbidden water drinking.

I hated her.

TLLM = Talk Less Learn More said...

I would rather not be a hypocrite and pretend to care when all that are in front of me, are a bunch of self-centred idiots who think that they are to be treated with respect even before they show some of it themselves.

What makes you think that all your teachers want to be your best friend and share your stupid jokes, silly sms, make small talk, talk rubbish!!!!!!!!!

I would hate to teach idiots who make my life miserable just because they have a broken family and they think that the whole world owes them for their misery.

FCUK!!!!!

someone said...

while there are some useful tips on relief-teaching mentioned, like always be firm, the general approach advocated in this blog seems overly totalitarian. From experience, a warm demeanor from any teacher will certainly bring many happy acknowledgements from students as he/she walks past the schools' corridors.

Anonymous said...

oh i just love your blog!! write more write more! misery loves company...but i suppose i have passed that stage since i have just finished nie.

and 3 years isn't that long, specially since nie is counted too! goodluck!

F360 said...

Fun reading...

I'm in NIE too =)

DEe said...

Someone is sooo wrong. there is nothing totalitarian about it. I made the mistake of being nice to my class.. When i went in the first day i followed advice to be fierce and it was so easy to handle the class. then i lapsed subsequently... and am dying a painful death.

thank goodness the teachers in my school are supportive and help me discipline. and I also go in regularly so at least the kids see me often.

nice teachers only work for the good students.

lovely blog there. i'll drop by often from now on!

Anonymous said...

blablabla said...
About the no permission thing, I once had a teacher who forbidden water drinking. I hated her.


My comments: "...who FORBIDDEN water drinking..."?!!!

Do you mean who FORBADE water drinking?

No wonder you hated such teachers. You must be the very type that was mentioned in the other post about whingers who want "respect" but have no concept of it. Get over yourself, blablabla *rolls eyes*

Anonymous said...

TLLM = Talk Less Learn More said...
I would rather not be a hypocrite and pretend to care when all that are in front of me, are a bunch of self-centred idiots who think that they are to be treated with respect even before they show some of it themselves.

What makes you think that all your teachers want to be your best friend and share your stupid jokes, silly sms, make small talk, talk rubbish!!!!!!!!!

I would hate to teach idiots who make my life miserable just because they have a broken family and they think that the whole world owes them for their misery.

FCUK!!!!!


TLLM - EXCELLENT!!! You've taken the words right out of my mouth, (including the expletive :) ) and you're SPOT ON about 'idiots who have a broken family and thinks the world owes them for their misery.'

Anonymous said...

I love it!!! I have four years teaching experience and have been relief teaching for the last 7 months and LOVING it! I completely agree with the tips you have written. It's hard being such an ogre during the day but it really is necessary to very quickly establish that you're "The Boss", both for yours and the classes sanity. When children know the boundaries they feel secure.

I'd love to know any more tips you have??

actually likes teaching said...

anyone that agrees with this blog should quit teaching. why the hell did you do teaching if you dont care about those you are teaching?

there is a happy medium - you cannot be walked over but you don't have to be a dictator. being firm and consistent with high expectations is enough. also if you reward students for their positive behaviour (eg take them out for a game at the end of the day) the next time you have to teach that class you won't have as many problems.

S. said...

OK... I just got my diploma and I would be teaching in a SECONDARY school just next week! Best part? Well I was told the class I'm taking (normal tech) is the most notorious. I am not sure what to look out for. I know I have to set ground rules but what happens if the whole class turns against me? I am taking RT as a test to see if I can be a teacher but I'd like to hear more personal experience and how to handle tough situations.

I don't think its fair to judge them even before meeting them but either ways, I know I have to set ground rules immediately. But I would like to know what to expect for those of you who have gone through it.

Cheers!

wen said...

That's why teachers are bitches. Even till this day, when I am already an adult... I have never drop this thought. Teachers are just plain bitches who shows fucking attitude to the students as if they are BIG.

Happy teaching and I truly hope that students just stands, become more aggressive and fight these bitches that the government hiring with such overrated pay.

Mirna Lisa said...

Hi wen,
if u dislike teachers so much then let me ask u this; what do you work as today? if you are successful wouldn't that be thanks your teacher? and if you are not then perhaps you need to question yourself that maybe you should've listen to the teachers more. And no, teachers do not get overrated pay, we are actually the lowest pay with the hardest job for having to teach and handle all those people with their whinnes and troubles like you.

Anonymous said...

Here are some things I try with lower classes.
1. Start the lesson with copying so that kids have something they can achieve. Don't ask them to think yet.
2. Give my own made up awards to kids who are doing the right thing. I do this loudly so that the kids know what I am looking for.
3. Make talkers stand up.
4. Move talkers to another seat.
5. Ask for hats off straight away.
6. Get kids to spit gum into the bin. I take the bin to them.
A great teacher once told me that anyone can teach the top classes. Only good teachers can teach the bottom classes. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Chinese teachers are not always old, grumy with bad dress sense! You are racist!

Mr Physics said...

Being warm can be a good thing with students. After all, they're kids. It is easier for men (authority being socially designated by gender) but as long as you are firm on what they're allowed to do (and not allowed), positive rewards and enthusiasm will go a very long way.

Some regular teachers do it; if you see the same class twice in a term you can win by getting them on side. Even the 'hard' kids with family breakups, mental health issues and social dysfunction will do what you want pretty quickly if you use positive attention when needed and keep them from distracting others.


The other thing to consider is what type of work you're giving them. Obviously with the worst groups of year 8's (especially this year) one needs to be firmer because they're less responsive, but the advice given above about getting them going early on something they can do is pretty sound.

Mr Physics said...

Also, top classes need top content - time loading for class prep becomes more of a stress issue than student management, but you can't teach senior subjects without a sound preparation!

Anonymous said...

This advice is way over the top. You don't need to be a Nazi just to maintain control. Be a person that the kids want to please, and reward positive behavior. With a bit of humor, intelligence, and keeping your wit about you, you can prevent many issues from developing or quickly correct those that come up. Definitely do not be a doormat, but you don't have to be Stalin reincarnate. Be yourself and enjoy your job. The attitude presented here will make you hate what you do every day of your life. Who wants that?! Be careful of what advice you buy into.

Anonymous said...

TLLM = Talk Less Learn More said...
I would rather not be a hypocrite and pretend to care when all that are in front of me, are a bunch of self-centred idiots who think that they are to be treated with respect even before they show some of it themselves.

What makes you think that all your teachers want to be your best friend and share your stupid jokes, silly sms, make small talk, talk rubbish!!!!!!!!!

I would hate to teach idiots who make my life miserable just because they have a broken family and they think that the whole world owes them for their misery.

WOW.... These are the kind of teachers educating our children of Singapore? You know i'm one of those 'idiots' who come from a broken family. At 21 I was offered a full fledged partnership in a company, since then i've gone on to start 2 more companies and now, at 25 I've semi-retired so I can go back to school and do a second degree in Physics at one of the best universities in the world. I am not the result of teachers like yourself. I am the result, of teachers who cared about my well being, encouraged me and supported me during my time in school. So I would suggest that if you want to teach, you should be prepared to work with children from all backgrounds, because when people mature and can grow out of their own private traps, you would have done your job as an educator. To make society compassionate and driven with humility, which can only mean a better place for all.