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Professional learning solutions for casual teachers.

‘Mornings were always the same routine. I’d wake early for a quick coffee and a slice of toast; then I’d get myself in order, dressed up in one of my best primary school teacher outfits, my winter coat ready by the door. Then I waited. Sometimes the message never came, but usually, it was a few simple lines. The school’s name and address and who I was supposed to find when I arrived. On the way to the tube station, I’d be figuring out the best combination of trains and buses to get me across London, and, hopefully, to the front desk of the school before the end of morning tea. A quick handover from a Deputy Principal, if I was lucky, then the bell would ring, and I’d get to teaching. No, there was certainly very little professional learning of any kind!’

                                                                        Kate – (former) Casual Teacher


For many intrepid teachers, a stint as a casual (or relief teacher) in London is a rite of passage. The stint is also, unfortunately, usually short, leaving a trail of burnt-out, stressed educators who rarely get the professional learning and support they need to do their best in the classroom. Of course, it’s a problem that extends well beyond London. The world over, the life of a casual teacher is challenging.

Thankfully many schools and networks are now doing their best to nurture their causal teachers and help them to be as well prepared as possible and to minimise the disruptions to their students. The most effective of them are offering meaningful, relevant, and timely professional learning for these educators. And they’ve been getting creative in how they do this, particularly by deploying their EC Premium online PL platform. This creativity has extended to:

  1. Onboarding training: When a casual teacher comes into a school, it can feel just that little more settling when they receive some insights into the school, its values, and the learning approach. We’ve seen many schools creating their own short courses or uploading short videos from key leaders and having some spare accounts for their casuals to access easily. These can be really welcoming for casual teachers and can set the tone nicely at the start of the day or their tenure to succeed in the classroom.
  2. Classroom practice: Casual teachers are up against it from the start. When they first walk into their assigned classroom, they don’t have the benefit of knowing the names of their students or drawing on long-built learning relationships. We’ve seen short courses in classroom and behaviour management training go a long way, as well as learning to equip educators with ways to make their classrooms as engaging as possible. The Real Schools content on EC Premium has been particularly popular here.3. Subject-Specific Content: In a perfect world, when a great maths teacher needs to be away from their classes, they are substituted by a great, casual maths teacher. But we all live in the real world and know that this doesn’t always happen. We’ve seen schools deploying subject-specific learning to their casual educators to good effect, like the classrooms energiser content from Maths Pathway or the literacy resources from Story Factory.

To the casual teachers of the world, thank you for waiting by the phone each morning and for trying your level best with each classroom you enter. We’ll do our best to support your professional learning and applaud the great schools who are doing the same.

Aaron Tait

Aaron is a co-founder of EC by Go1 and Vice President of Marketing. Since 2012 Aaron has developed and delivered professional learning programs K-12 education staff across the world. He is the co-author of the books Edupreneur (Wiley) and Dream Team (ASCD).

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