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“Could you cover an art class?”
Teachers are asked this question at least a few time a year. The answer most times requires a “yes.” In many cases a teacher is helping the greater good of the school, however it is at a cost to the personal teacher.
Most teachers are not particularly fond of being asked to cover a class for the following reasons:
1. It is a question to which a teacher cannot say no. A supervisor or fellow teacher expects a teacher that a teacher fulfill this duty.
2. The class is often in a subject area in which the teacher has limited knowledge.
3. The students in the class do not know the teacher well or even at all. The same is true of a teacher’s knowledge of the students.
4. It takes away from valuable time that could be used to prepare for a class or to correct.
5. It is often an emergency situation. This means there is no lesson plan or if there is a lesson plan, it might not be of interest to the students or might only take a small portion of the class to compete.
Once a teacher agrees to cover a class, the question is how to engage the students and make the class worthwhile for both the students and the teacher?
Here is some advice:
- Draw from your knowledge on the subject. The art lesson below is one attempt at applying my knowledge in the content area to create a relevant learning activity.
- Use enrichment activities from your discipline and subject area that might be of interest to the students. Remember the goal of covering a class is to actively engage the students. I teach psychology, so I sometimes select a few of these activities.
- Show inspiration clips of individuals. If you have access to the internet and a smart board this is one option. Here are a few of my favorite clips.
- Talk with the students. Every so often it is great just to talk the students about life, current events, school activities. When taking attendance, perhaps you may have had siblings, ask what’s new with them.
Let’s get back the question of what do you do with an art class at 7:25 when you are asked to cover the class at 7:24. After taking attendance and introducing yourself, see if the lesson plan seems appropriate and engaging. If the answer is yes, your job should be almost done. Introduce the activity and manage the class. You might not be able to help the students with the assignment or the students may have to work with each other.
In my case, there was no lesson plan, so I let the students “have a study” for a few minutes before I devised the lesson.
- Hand each student a blank sheet of paper.
- On the board, trace your hand and make a turkey like you did in elementary school. The students will trace their hand on their paper.
- Instruct the students to decorate the turkey. You also might ask them to list 4 things they are thankful for in the finger. Leave the thumb blank so it can be decorated.
- On the back, students are to write a letter to the person they selected. The letter should include specific examples of why the student is thankful for the person. Another option could be to list “memories of” the person. (See how my psychology experience ties in with the lesson.)
- Tell the students to share their work with the person. Before starting the activity, I might share some responses from a similar activity I completed for Grandparent’s Day.
It was a productive class where most of the students were engaged. At the end of the class I checked in with each student. We did not discuss the choices, however you could go around the room and ask the students to share their work.
In a future blog I will share with you what to do with a Spanish Class.
Hopefully this was helpful! Remember to always make the best of any situation, no matter how challenging it may be.
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