Mr Kemp NZ

Living the life of a substitute teacher

So, this week I was meant to be taking a group of 200 grade 6 students from my school in Singapore on a field studies trip (camp) to Indonesia. Unfortunately, due to the haze, we were unable to go so our trip has been postponed until December (hopefully the haze has gone by then).

At the same time, we have 350 grade 7 and 8 students out of school on their field studies trips to various locations around Asia that are not affected by the haze.

While these students are away, the grade 6 teachers have to cover the classes of the teachers that are away. That means that my schedule is full this week as I fill in the gaps for staff that are away. I am living the life of a substitute (relief) teacher!


Don’t get me wrong, I have covered lessons before and helped fill the void as teachers are sick or need to go to an appointment etc. However, I have never played substitute for a week!

My take away comment so far is –> We owe it all to our substitute teachers!

They may not have planning and grading that is required of them, but they have to think on their feet and be a master of all trades. They have to deal with student behavior that is probably similar to that of how these students behave at home with their parents. Nothing is normal for these students, nothing is the same and they are definitely not the supreme human beings that their teacher painted the picture to me that they were.

However …… as a professional educator with years of experience I have made it work. I have adjusted plans to suit and added some fun, engaging activities to lighten the load.

Through this experience, I have learned more about myself as an educator than I would in a typical year with one class.

I have learned that rapport with students is key! If you don’t have a positive relationship with your students, they will push back and true learning will not ever happen.

My advice:

  1. Build a positive rapport with students
  2. Set expectations for your students and get them to report back to you on how they were
  3. Always leave detailed plans and backup plans for our substitute teacher with notes about the students
  4. Be realistic – don’t expect too much
  5. Utilise my “spy of the week” technique with students

Have fun wherever you are and stay connected!

Think of me as I slave away as a substitute 😉

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Craig Kemp

Craig Kemp

I am a passionate Global EdTech Consultant based in Singapore but working with Schools and EdTech companies all over the world. I am a lifelong learner, dream creator and thought leader. I love to inspire others and find inspiration. Co-founder of #whatisschool, #asiaED edchats and #pubPD.

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