As a recent graduate who was only shown the EYFS document once on my three year university teaching course, Foundation Stage has always been a bit of a mystery to me- until I started supply teaching, and suddenly found myself thrown in the deep end one day! The “EYFS Supply Teaching Made Simple” book is for those of us who aren’t really sure where to start with Foundation Stage, or what we’re meant to be doing if we get put the classroom for the day. After reading it, I can say that it does the job of preparing someone for Foundation Stage brilliantly!
The introduction really explains what the foundation stage is and what you can expect. FS is very different from KS1 and KS2, and sometimes it can be a bit of a shock, so this introduction is good to help you get a feel for what you are going to encounter! It clearly tells you all the “need to know” information, such as the Development Matters statements. These are based in three prime areas in Foundation Stage: Personal, Social, and Emotion Development (PSED), Communication and Language (C&L), and Physical Development (PD). There are four further specific areas, which are Literacy, Numeracy, Understanding the World, and Expressive Art and Design. Everything in FS should be guided around these areas. FS is a much more creative, inclusive atmosphere where everything seems to overlap. We are reminded that they should overlap, and that’s helpful to know, so you can be sure you’re not focusing too much on one thing in the classroom. There are many different strands within FS that you can explore, and it’s made clear how you can do that.
The Supply Bag section is great- I have been a supply teacher for just under a year, and I have been looking up ideas for things I could have in a “supply bag”. The list here tells us explicitly what would work, and why, along with some ideas for activities that could go with them.
Practicalities tell us the truth- foundation stage is tiring! If you go into FS expecting a quiet day, you are in for quite a rude awakening! The first few times I covered FS I didn’t even think about outdoor clothes etc, and it is always good to have these handy. It covers some common sense points, such as about tidying up, but also mentions observations, which are extremely important in FS. There’s a good bit about distinguishing what is a relevant observation, which was interesting as sometimes I feel that I am making observations in FS for the sake of it, not because it is something worth noting. It gives you a real clear idea of what is actually important.
The plans are really varied and offer ideas based in all the aforementioned strands. There are examples of how you can apply these ideas into a classroom, and also tells you where they overlap into other. It is clearly set out to tell you what the key points are, and different ways you might be able to achieve them, and gives lots of related activities. Having just a few of these up your sleeve might be the difference between a day going smoothly, and a day with lots of awkward fillers!
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this, and I found it extremely helpful. It isn’t written in a way that it feels like it is lecturing you; it feels more like someone giving advice. It is informative and well written, and easy to understand for people who have not encountered the FS before. As someone who received absolutely zero training in the Early Years, I have almost felt like I was bluffing my way through my days’ supply that I’ve had with them so far. However, after reading this, I feel much more prepared, and like I will be a much more valuable asset to the staff for the time that I am with them.
Emma is a primary school teacher currently on supply. You can join her on Twitter: @EmmaCKThompson
I downloaded both the KS4 and the KS3 time filler PDF’s onto my kindle so that I’d be able to refer to them without printing.
The layout of both PDF’s is very easy to follow, with the first section being split into separate subject areas with at least one time filler idea for one. The second section suggests cross-curriculum activities which could work well as a follow on from the first section's activity.
The KS3 time fillers are at a good level for that particular age group, I also like how the KS4 time fillers could be used to stretch some of the more advanced learners , for example the learning element symbols from the KS3 time fillers could then be stretched into Periodic table bingo.
One of my favourite cross curricular activities from the KS3 PDF is the dictation activity that also includes peer assessment. So often you need students to write something down in a particular way but it’s difficult to make sure they have done so without spending valuable lesson time. The suggested method in the PDF ensures that not only the students keep on track but by per reviewing can also highlight literacy errors amongst themselves.
In the KS4 cross curricular activity section you have some solid favourites such as mind maps and revision posters, but I particularly like the very last one as it’s a way to fill time at the end of class. Having the students self assess their learning before leaving the room is a great idea, and this activity gets them out of their seat which is brilliant for the more active students. On a personal note it would also allow me to leave a note to the normal teacher about which students struggled with the topic. You could also expand this activity but asking some directed questions and maybe coupling it with the pause pounce bounce method of questions. Having the students lined up from confident to unconfident would allow you to tailor questions to specific learners. It may even help you boost the confidence of some of the less confident students who when they answer a few questions correctly about the topic may decide to move in the line.
Overall I will find these pdf’s useful, as I am just entering KS3 and 4 from teaching FE I was worried about the level of work I should set and not having many resources to hand. These pdfs are short and to the point exactly what you need when a 5 minute activity needs to be pulled out of thin air. The fact that there are in some cases example questions you could use or an example definition makes it even easier. I will definitely be keeping these on my Kindle and taking them with me on my supply teaching placements!
The last page in each PDF is given over to different places you can access e.g. the authors twitter accounts, Supply teacher network facebook page and the main website. I would highly recommend checking them out.
New-to-supply teacher Keith kindly agreed to write a review for KS3 Time Fillers and KS4 Time Fillers after using them for the first few times...
"This is my second placement at a secondary school as a supply teacher. I have given the pupils the task that has been set for them and they are progressing well. However, I do not think it is going to be enough to keep them occupied until the end of the lesson. I reach into my bag for "Time Fillers - Essential Resources for Supply Teachers."
These are two documents, one aimed at Key Stage 3 and one at Key Stage 4. They provide ideas to cover a range of activities and can prove useful, particularly if you are not a specialist in the subject you have been asked to cover. Subjects included are English, Maths, Science, MFL, Humanities, Art, and Design as well as Drama. Some cross-curricula ideas are included as well.
The activities in the documents are described as being 5-10 minute activities. I think that some of these will take longer and can also be developed into something that will occupy more of a lesson, if necessary. They are not a substitute for a full lesson though. If absolutely needed you would have to bolt several activities together.
I have made use of the documents in a couple of ways. On first receiving them I read through the pages and considered which activities I thought that I would be most comfortable with, especially those that were outside of my own teaching area. I also thought that I could develop some of these ideas into a fuller piece of work. I am a great believer in the thought that a blank piece of paper is the most difficult to fill. Give me a basic idea and I can expand and adapt.
The second way I have used "Time Fillers" is as an emergency activity. I have needed activities, particularly for the more able learners , when they have completed the task set much more quickly than others in the class. I know that there is no point moving them onto the next topic in the textbook as that will probably be the subject of the next lesson. Mind maps and posters allow for some differentiation.
I think that we could all have sat down and, given time, put these documents together. I do not think that there is anything earth-shattering about them. They are not big documents. However, time is a luxury that we do not always have, either in writing and preparing ideas "just in case" or having to read veritable tomes on being a supply teacher. This is true particularly when new to supply teaching and the placement is short term..."
The Cover Teacher’s Planner by Gareth Tanswell is a useful tool for secondary supply teachers. Back in the day when I was doing regular supply work it would have been handy to have a copy and keep all my administration in one easily accessible place. The planner starts with a comprehensive section for your personal details, before having pages dedicated to agency details (very handy for those who are with multiple agencies). I like the space it gives for you to note down the schools details where you have been sent, from school hours to behaviour management details and even a space to note where to get yourself a cup of tea at break time!
Each day in the academic year is set out on an A4 page and broken down into seven sessions, with space to write a few brief notes about the objectives of each lesson, student achievements and behaviour. As the planner is ring bound, you could sign and photocopy each day before leaving the school as feedback to the classroom teacher – great for keeping notes to refer back to if you return to the same class on another occasion and providing accountability of yourself to the school, which can only help to increase professionalism. Weekends are covered too, so any private tuition or other work commitments can be recorded.
Rather than a standard planner’s pages for marks and grades, this one has a couple of really useful proformas at the back. I particularly liked the space for incident reports so even if the school hasn’t supplied their own version you can leave detailed notes, and once again easy to photocopy. Mileage and expenses are also given space.
One the whole I think this is a well thought out planner, though there are some points I would change. Firstly, the sheer weight of it – I think it is excessive that even the 25th December has a full page to fill up with seven lessons! Also I can’t imagine when I would ever have used the lesson plan proformas, should you be asked to produce a lesson plan you would either have access to the school’s own layout or would adapt a personalised one for your own benefit. Finally, despite only having flicked through the planner a few times, the paper covers are already beginning to come off – a hard back cover would be far more durable, especially as this planner is design to be carried everywhere and used on a daily basis. Overall though, a useful piece of kit to add to the supply bag.
A. Barrett. experienced secondary supply teacher.