Trying to stay relevant as a relief teacher

How this all started

This all started when Brett Salakas posted a tweet about using a lego car creation as a starter to creative writing. I connected with Brett to get his permission to use the idea and picture from his class, also to get his comments on how I was using it. Brett then blew my mind by inviting me to write a guest blog post he would host on the AussieED site. I have tried to follow and join in the regular chats on Sunday nights and have enjoyed the learning and connections fostered through this professional learning time.

Being a relief teacher

How do you stay relevant as a relief teacher? That is the question I have been pondering the most lately, and what has driven me to blog more and create/make more. Is everyday, week, term or year that you don’t have a permanent job more and more steps away from being relevant as an educator? I wrote a blog post on March 2, 2015 titled Finding your purpose, I am ordinary but can do extraordinary things, and Own what you do it is okay to be a relief teacher, on February 18th. This was my thinking and writing in trying to comes to term with being a relief teacher, and finding peace in what I was doing. Whilst have some peace with what I do, this doesn’t diminish my desire to become a full time teacher with my own class or classes. I am seeking full time teaching jobs and believe that the process I am going through will strengthen my employment opportunities.

Relief teaching is one of the hardest teaching jobs. You walk into a class often without having any meaningful relationships with the students that are there. You have no previous teaching or learning that you have done to build upon, you don’t know where the students are at or what they are capable of. Yet you have expectations of yourself to provide meaningful learning experiences for the students, and wanting to engage them in the learning tasks. Classroom teachers and school leaders also have those expectations of relief teachers. I believe that through the design and use of this website and the lessons within that I am preparing myself to provide engaging learning experiences for the range of students that I will teach. Wix site

WHY? (My purpose)

Why? Perhaps the best question to ask, or answer, why do we do what we do, or do it that way. Why is core to everything we do as educators, if we can’t answer the why for ourselves or our students then perhaps we shouldn’t be doing it. Previously students would be answered with because you have to do it or its is part of the curriculum, yet the ability as as teacher to really answer this questions, allows for a much deeper meaning to be connected with learning for students.

I am trying to use the various website services to learn them for myself and see how they work, and what I believe they can be applied to in the classroom. To share, I want to share and show what I do, be more transparent and accountable to the learning experiences that I design. To prepare, I want to be better prepared with a range of lesson ideas for various classes, grades, and students. this is also my attempt to provide good, engaging learning opportunities for students, properly planned and prepared. Through reflection and refinement I hope to improve the lessons and my teaching skills, providing even better lessons with little tweaks and ideas added.

Learn by doing

I connected with Vipula Sharma, @VipulaSharma1, through the #asiaED chat, a slow chat of 1 question per day on twitter. The first topic I think I joined in on was #rethinkinghomework. I read Vipula’s web site and really enjoyed the way tools and ideas were shared, and decided at some stage I would find a reason to create a different website and would use Wix to do so. I have previously used google sites to create a class website I used last year teaching a grade 5-6 class one day a week. I have also used google sites as my first attempt at creating a digital portfolio, although I am leaning towards just using my blog as a portfolio instead.

I am trying to use various website hosts to develop my skills in using them. I also have a weebly site that I will be developing as a place to create materials I would use in any various subjects given the opportunity to teach full time. So far the sites used are: Google sites for classroom and portfolio, WordPress as a blog and tutoring site, WIx here for relief teaching, and Weebly next for subject specific materials. I have used wordpress to host my blog for teaching reflections link, but still learning to make and use this better and use it on a more regular basis.

Sharing with the world

If what you are doing is not worth sharing with the world, then why is it worth sharing with your students? Not sure where I heard this from but it is something that resonated with me, and has given further cause and reason to publish my teaching and keep/share it on the internet. Having a website allows for my teaching resources to be publicly available. I can share these sites as part of my portfolio of work, and students or parents can easily access the material I am using or presenting.

Sharing hopefully will also provide me with chances to connect with other educators. Have them, challenge me and help to improve lessons that I use and teach with. When listening to the 2 guys show podcast episode where they interviewed Viki Davis, the Cool Cat Teacher, the idea that it is important to do something with what you read, see or hear resonated with me. I need to create lessons from the resources I find, develop and store them then share.

Lessons I use and create

ColAR (now Quiver) is an app that creates an augmented picture of a colouring page that students can do. After getting this idea from the 2 guys show i have used it a few times and always have students wow factored by the app.

Stories and pictures

Stories and pictures

This then leads into doing a creative writing story relating to the character in their picture, lesson plan link.

Mystery Skype is another great tool to use as created and shared by Craig Kemp. I have put together a lesson plan to use when you (I) have a class booked in advance and able to prepare to use this awesome collaboration and global connection tool.


The simple lesson created that was sparked by Brett’s tweet

List of links to my sites

WordPress blog:

Wix relief teaching site:

First attempt at a Google classroom site:

Original ePortfolio:



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