Cover Lessons, Relief teaching, Substitute lessons.

Call it what you will, when teachers are away on school business, family matters or are just plain ill we know they need to be replaced for the missing lessons. In most schools I know or have worked at, the unappreciated task of allocating other teachers to cover those missing teachers’ lessons usually falls on a Deputy or Vice Principal.

Our Indonesian principal does it here, at Global Jaya, however, he has contracted dengue fever and been hospital that past week. (he is at home now, but will be off work for at least another week.) Thus I have been doing the job.

This week we have averaged 10 teachers away per day for various reasons. That equates to about 80 lessons over the week. Some of the bigger international schools have full time permanent ‘cover’ or ‘substitution’ teachers. (since visa issues mean that there is not a lot of free teachers waiting to be called up to do some work for the day).

That’s great if you have enough money to do that, our school does not. Interesting what you learn.

Some teachers want to speak to you in the corridor when they see you and let you know they’ll be away tomorrow or Friday. Problem is I have a memory like a sieve, if it is not written down I just do not remember it. Period.

One teacher thinks she does not have to do covers because she teachers in Primary and Secondary, “But I have not had a cover lesson in years, isn’t that the unwritten rule?” Well, no such rules exists. If we need a cover teacher, we need a cover teacher.

Other teachers want to sms you their cover lessons. Hey, I need to print them and hand them out to the cover teachers, that’s not real helpful. (but better than nothing).

A teacher, despite being reminded of our school’s policy of ringing a Principal to request leave, decided that an sms to her department head would be enough, only slightly better than the teacher who figured emailing the secretary was ok.

“Can you merge my lesson with so and so’s lesson, can you just let the students know blah blah blah” What is so hard about completing a simple form with all details covered and emailing me (or doing it early and leaving it on my desk.) At 6.30am when I am busy arranging the cover lessons and teachers to look after them, I do not really want to be double checking each lesson plan to see what permutation you have dreamed up.

Lessons start at 7.30am here, give me the covers before 7.00 please, it takes time to arrange and distribute approx 15-25 cover lessons each day. And of course, the teacher’s doing them appreciate knowing earlier rather than later.

Also, if you are sick, then just stay home. Let me know early and we can deal with it. You will not be ‘punished’ for being away when you are genuinely ill. (unlike some schools I have heard of, a teacher not yet on contract risked being losing his chance at tenure if he or she was away sick). coming into school to ‘tough’ it out and then needing to go home mid morning does not help anyone and creates more work for me and the teachers who suddenly get an unexpected last minute cover lesson.

When a teacher rings me at 6.00am in the morning to let me know they will be absent I am not interested in chatting or confirming their story, just tell me who you are and if you’ll be away, no need to cough and moan piteously, I’m interested in the information not the sob story.

Finally, if I have given you a cover it is because I need you to cover the lesson, not because I hate you, not because I am trying to look after my friends, not because I was day dreaming and accidentally put your name on the list. I keep records, of every absence and every cover. I try and balance it out, but with 15-25 cover lessons and many teachers already teaching a full load the list of available teachers can be quite low.

Reading back this seems like a little negative, I didnt mean it this way. Thanks to the teachers who have the can do attitude, who take a cover lesson and just do it. Thanks to the teachers who plan ahead their cover lessons, have them clearly marked, photocopied and have a class list attached, thanks to the teachers that email me to let me know in advance if they have a meeting that day and so cannot do a cover lesson.

I’ll keep pestering the admin for a full time relief teacher, but until I do, I’m sorry but you may have to do some covers.

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About Pak Liam

Living, teaching and traveling in Asia.
This entry was posted in administration, Global Jaya International School and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Cover Lessons, Relief teaching, Substitute lessons.

  1. Pak Liam says:

    Actually, I forgot to include Tutor group lessons I had to cover, so actually it was 85 covers in one week.

  2. “Some of the bigger international schools have full time permanent ‘cover’ or ‘substitution’ teachers. (since visa issues mean that there is not a lot of free teachers waiting to be called up to do some work for the day).” …well, I’m one free teacher (from morning until 15.00), so do not hesitate to consider me in if the school needs a ‘cover’ teacher, Pak Liam.

    • Pak Liam says:

      Pak Adi, I totally agree, however, I need to convince our yayasan that we have a need for outside cover teachers also. But thanks for the offer, I might certainly take it up!

      • Well, Pak Liam thank you for the quick response …. However, the school management also need to make sure that teachers who are to be covered also play their important role of responsibility i.e. preparing cover-sheets with CLEAR instructions complete with materials which need to be distributed to his/her students (not that everything is dumped on the cover teacher’s shoulders), right?… Have a good day, Pak.

  3. Pak Liam says:

    Fortunately this week there was ‘only’ 36 covers, however, one teacher was late and did not bother notifying anyone and another was absent without bothering to tell anyone.

  4. Pak Liam says:

    I heard a new excuse today, actually, I think it was genuine. A teacher had to go home early today, his wife had called because debt collectors had arrived at his home!

    (given the stories about debt collectors for Citibank causing the death of a client, it can be a worrying situation).

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