The most difficult part for me is when the subject I am in is something I know very little about – Maths or Science being prime examples. A good case would be an S2 biology lesson where results from an experiment had to be put into a graph. It is slightly embarrassing when a 12 year old asks you for help and you have to admitt that you have no idea what to do. The easiest thing to do in that situation is to laugh it off and ask if anyone in the class does know what do and make that pupil the go to person. However, the first time this happens it can be quite daunting.
One thing that can make a cover class easy is if the volume and level of work that has been left is of a good standard. Some teachers leave too much and others too little. As a rule I would verge towards the former when I’m leaving work when I’m out of school. I also make sure that the cover teacher doesn’t have to teach anything. This is a given in a language class as for most teachers the thought of languages makes them hot foot it to google translate! (btw please don’t do this if you cover a language class).
I have been in every department of the school and taken classes at every stage and for the vast majority of classes everything goes well but what do you do when a please take becomes a please run. Here are my top tips for taking cover classes.
1. Know where you are going – not knowing where room 260 is can waste valuable time
2. If you know a bit in advance go and talk to the PT and see what work has been left.
3.Know who is the boss of the department and where to send anyone who steps out of line
4. Introduce yourself (they might not know you)
5. Do the register in complete silence – set your rules from the start. Don’t just plough on with someones name if you can’t read it – apologise if you get it wrong.
6. Read out the instructions and if possible write them on the board so that you don’t have to repeat yourself repeat yourself repeat yourself
7. Don’t expect to get loads of your own work done – if would be nice but its not going to happen
8. If pupils finish give them something to do that is useful (I get people to do any homework they may have or if really stuck make posters for my own classroom)
9. Remember that you’re very presence has disrupted them – they aren’t going to be perfect
10. Don’t bitch about the class afterwards you may get them again
Remember cover classes are an important part of what keeps a school running and it works both ways. You cover for people and they’ll cover for you too.