I admit that my time as an ‘occasional teacher’ was limited. It was also done during a time, though truly not that long ago, where an online system was not used an emails were not a priority to be shared among occasional teachers and the teacher you were ‘replacing’. What I do remember is feeling stressed coming into a school for the simple facts that I did not necessarily know anyone, had no idea of the layout of the school unless it was posted online, let alone an idea of how awesome the students were going to be that I got to learn with during my time in their learning space.
Fast forward to now, and I am the homeroom educator/lead learner. I refrain from using the word teacher often due to numerous opportunities where students are helping me to learn based on their interests and expertise and could go for days about why I have switched the wording. I digress. Back to guest educators vs. occasional teachers.
Sparked by a colleague’s post on Twitter, the wonderful Spencer Burton, I thought I would share the practices that I am using in welcoming guest educators into our co-learning space. It is important to note that these practices are evolving as feedback is continually welcomed by those who learn with us in an effort to support others who come in the future. In point form, and with a few images attached, here I go:
What is most important to my students and myself, is that our guest educator feels welcomed and so a new practice my students and I are applying to our learning community is respectfully asking our guest educators to share a bit about them either prior to coming to our class or the day of. Occasional teacher, supply teacher, substitute teacher, these are titles that do not give way to feeling welcomed let alone part of a co- learning community; guest educator is far more welcoming and open to the sense of community we all crave (least I think).
As soon as I know who the wonderful guest educator is, I reach out to them asking simple questions like (note we see the email of our guest educator based on the call out system we use):
- how has your year been so far?
- have you been to our school before?
- do you speak French or any other languages?
- are you comfortable sharing a bit about you so my students can know about you before you come to our learning space (this a new practice as of Nov. 10th!)
Below are two docs, modified for this post, that are shared with the guest educator on a timeline that fits their coming to our school.
It is important that communication is open between the homeroom educator and guest educator as soon as possible where possible. We, as homeroom educators, have a huge role to play in the success of the day for our students and our guest(s).
Creating a welcoming space for our guest educators should be a priority. Occasional teachers denotes a somewhat lesser than mentality and that is not who these individuals are. These are well educated, professional educators just as homeroom educators are and they are not there to replace us for the day but instead, guest educators are there to create a different learning opportunity for our students that varies from their perhaps daily routines.
Guest educators create a unique opportunity for our students based on their own personal backgrounds, learning passions, and simple interests in being an educator.
I invite and challenge any educator reading this to reach out to their guest teachers as early as possible, to set up a welcoming space for them by reminding your students of the unique opportunities that stem from having a guest educator, and to welcome feedback from your guest educator so that you can be better prepared for future opportunities. Instead of asking your guest educator ‘who are you in for today?’ ask, “what class are you learning with today? and let the guest guide the rest of the information.
There is much more to shapost but alas, it gives the idea of where this educator stems from in her choices of welcoming guest educators.
Yours in learning,
The Enthusiastic Learner
(as an aside, I am intermediate educator and STILL believe that all of the above applies to any learning space.)