The ‘Free Class’

subapplelogoFor the last couple of weeks I have been working as a substitute teacher in an all boys school. Most of the time I am covering for subjects which I do not teach. This has proven to be difficult at times for a number of reasons.

  1. I do not know what classes I will have until 8:30 am so I am unable to prepare a full lesson.
  2. Teachers get sick unexpectedly and don’t leave material which needs to be completed.
  3. I do not know the content of subjects that are not my usual subjects so I am not confident in the classroom.
  4. The students see me coming and immediately think ‘YES Free Class’.

The ‘free class’ mentality is in every school I have ever experienced. Students love a substitute teacher who lets you do homework, study, watch a movie or have a chat. Students do not love a substitute teacher who enters the room with a pile of work or notes to copy into their notebooks. Principals and other teachers however expect a certain amount of work to get covered in this ‘free class’ so what do you do?

I have started to create my own sub folder. I have spent the last number of weeks searching the internet for resources and ideas that can be adapted to fit all classes, subjects, ages, genders etc. I have found students respond best when you have something fun that they can actively engage with. There are so many websites teachers can use to create quizzes and games. My favourite has to be Kahoot.  Kahoot allows teachers to log on and create a quiz. Students then use a device or computer to log onto the student site to enter and compete with each other. Quizzes are easy to make and you can save them and use them over and over again.

Only last week I was introduced to studyclix. This is an online site which creates tests on any subject and topic. It is free for teachers to join and tests can be printed and used for group learning. There are so many websites that have handouts ready to print for emergency classes I could not possibly list them all but two I definitely frequent are StudentHandouts and SuperSub.

Another favourite with almost all students is creative writing competitions. What ever class you are in pick a topic and ask students to explain the topic as creatively as possible. You could have a small prize for the winner. Food usually goes down well 🙂 This week the first year class I was supervising produced some pretty amazing ghost stories for Halloween.

An idea I came up with on the spot for foreign language classes is as simple as they come. Hangman. Students have to use their dictionaries to find the word and the meaning and be able to put the word in a sentence to gain the point for their team. This game can be simplified for younger classes.

This is only the start of what I hope by the end of the year will be a pretty impressive arsenal of resources. If anyone would like to contribute please feel free. Having these ideas has helped me as a substitute with my classroom management and with my actual teaching. They are also fun for students and teacher. My students know now when they see me coming there is no ‘free class’ but it can be a fun filled class. I hope this can be of use to somebody else too.