Many of us have had to teach a class outside of our subject area. This can be a bit daunting, particularly if you’re needed to teach in a KLA you know little about. And with the litany of viruses spreading around our school communities this season, we’ve had to step out of our comfort zones much more often. So, we’ve developed some useful tips for teaching out of area to help you be as prepared as possible.
Have a teacher toolkit
Having a teacher toolkit prepared for your out of area class will help to keep your students engaged in their learning. Your toolkit should include simple emergency lesson resources such as find-a-words, dot-to-dots and colouring ins for students to complete if no work has been left for them. The toolkit also needs a pencil case for students who may need a spare pen, spare paper as well as a hacky sack, ball or talking stick to control class discussions.
If you know what KLA you are teaching in advance, prepare a resource relevant to the subject area. Teacher PD has plenty of subject-specific resources that are perfect for use as emergency lessons. You can browse through them on the website.
Plan out your lessons
Planning your out of area lesson can help to keep your students engaged and busy all lesson. Create a specific breakdown for your lesson inclusive of a starter, activities and plenary to keep you and your students on track. Teacher PD has a lesson plan template available to help you organise your out of area lessons.
It can also be useful to tell your students what to expect from their lesson with you, especially if you plan a fun plenary. The plenary can help to incentivise good behaviour from your students and give you more control over the class.
Read over the subject’s syllabus
It may be beneficial to take a look at the subject’s syllabus before teaching out of area. It could give you an idea about what to expect when you walk into the class. The syllabus can also be a good source of inspiration for activities for your out of area class. For example, you could write out dot points or outcomes from the syllabus on the board and ask students to create mind-maps based on what they know about each. This is a great activity for when you’re teaching out of area on short notice.
Complete the work beforehand
If the teacher of your out of area class has left work to complete, it could be wise to complete it yourself before class. Doing the task yourself can give you an idea of what to expect when the students complete it themselves. This way, you’ll be better equipped to help your cherubs through the activity and you’ll have your own sample answers on hand.
Allow the students to take some ownership of the lesson by letting them teach you! Ask your cherubs to ‘teach the teacher’ about the subject or the content they have recently been taught. This activity creates a sense of ownership for the students as they provide you with information about the subject or topic. It can also empower them, making them more likely to display positive behaviour and allowing you to have greater control over the class.
Don’t answer students’ questions
We know this sounds a bit counterintuitive but hear us out. As you are teaching an unfamiliar subject, when a student asks a content-related question, think about whether you can actually answer it properly. If you can, happy days! If not, consider not answering their questions and leaving it up to the experts. Write down any students’ questions you’re unsure of and leave it for their regular teacher to answer when they return. This way, you are not leading your students up the garden path by taking a guess. You can use Teacher PD’s Questions for the Teacher resource to record any tricky questions.
We hope you feel more confident teaching out of area with these tips. We believe in you!.