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What to Expect as a Primary Relief Teacher in Hawkes Bay

So, chances are high you’ve ended up on this page as you are curious about what it takes to be a primary school reliever in Hawkes Bay. Perhaps you are in a full-time role now and considering a change. Maybe your lifestyle and family or other work commitments means that you only want to work casually – when and where it suits you. Maybe being a relief teacher at a primary school would be the ideal work scenario for you. We wrote this blog to help break it down. What can you expect? How should you prepare? Is there anything crucial you should know?

The most crucial thing I think you need to do in order to be a great Primary Reliever, is to get your mindset in the right place. Going into a school for the first time can be a daunting situation however if you have the right mindset from the get-go, you are going to have a much more successful day. It is important to be open to what you might experience as no two schools are the same. Of course, they will have similarities however you will find that each school will run things slightly differently. From their behaviour management strategy to their induction process, to what extent lessons or work is left for you, the culture and vibe of the school and the demographic of the tamaraki and their whanau. Having an open and growth mindset will mean that you adjust easier to these differences and changes as you work across different schools.

The next thing you need to do is to get prepared! We always recommend having your own resource kit. You should be prepared to teach a whole day of lessons without having any work left for you by the regular teacher. So, you could include in your kit; activities, worksheets, group work and games that you can use and adapt to suit all ages. You can also bring in your own laptop or USB with some resources on it, however it is important to note you may not always have access to technology in the classroom so being prepared with physical resources may be preferred.

It is also important to get yourself prepared for the day! You most likely will be assigned at least one yard duty for the day so it is important to dress appropriately. This means having a sun smart hat in the warmer months and a good jacket for the colder months. It is also a good idea to ensure you wear a watch (so you don’t have to use your mobile to check the time), take your own whistle and have your lunch ready to go in the morning. You may not be able to pop to the shop on your lunchbreak, so I always recommend taking a water bottle, snacks and lunch.

Now once you get to the school, what next? We do ask all schools that work with us to provide an induction for each reliever on their first day at the school. This might be 5 minutes or it could be 30 depending on how much time is available the morning of your shift. We would ask that schools provide you with a brief overview of the culture, how they would like you to handle any challenging behaviours, an emergency management plan and potentially a map or a quick walk through of the school. You should also be shown the staffroom and the bathrooms.

After that, it will be off to the classroom (or the field if you are teaching PE). Now is the time to meet your students for the day. Remember this is their first impression of you as a teacher, so now is the best (and only) time to set the tone. We recommend a stance of firm but fair. You want the children to engage with you and be excited that you are their teacher for the day, but it is also important to set boundaries or reiterate any classroom rules. You want the students to know, that although this is your first time teaching them, you are still their teacher, and you know how things run at their school. I also recommend implementing a positive behaviour management strategy at this point. There are many ways to do this but could be something like; if we all stay on track today and get our work completed, we can have a fun game for the last 10minutes of the day. This should encourage your students to be on their best behaviour for you!

It is also important that you remember that each school will have a diverse community of learners. We recommend that when doing the roll, you do your best to learn the correct pronunciation of your learners’ names. Right from the start of your relationship with them it is important for you to show respect to them, and to start building a rapport, which will in turn develop their respect for you as a teacher. You can do this by getting to know them, where they are from, their culture, values and beliefs and their interests. Where possible try to incorporate their interests into your teaching and activities for the day as this will help to make your teaching more engaging.

So, what else is there? What other opportunities can arise from relieving teaching?

You should definitely expect to have a fun day. Relieving is such a unique job with no two days the same. As you will be working in different schools each day or each week, you should expect to be making new connections and extending your community of learners – kahui ako. You will be given opportunities for professional development within the wider community, and you will be able to network and speak with the staff, whanau and tamaraki. You will be able to enjoy insights into the many cultures of NZ and build connections, relationships, and opportunities. Permanent positions can also be offered after relieving work. There are always staff movements and opportunities arising, so we recommend you treat every day like it is a job interview. You never know who is watching and being impressed with your work.

As we work with schools in Havelock North, Hastings, Clive, Napier and CHB there are plenty of opportunities for you to find your next permanent role if that is what you are looking for. Otherwise there will be plenty of relieving work for you to experience schools across all of Hawkes Bay.

Good luck! You’ve got this.


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