Interview with... Dale, creator of apps for supply teachers

Interview with... Dale SidebottomDale Sidebottom creates fantastic apps for supply teachers.  I don't even know what an app is! Read on to find out more, and for a free download for all our readers courtesy of Dale...
Why and how did you get into supply teaching?

In 2010 I moved to the UK on a two year working visa from Australia. My previous teaching experience was a one-year contract as a Primary PE Teacher in country Australia. Supply teaching in London proved to be a very challenging experience, the skills and teaching strategies I adopted in this 6-month period have had a huge impact on the teacher I am today.

What do you take with you on assignment?

When I first started out I had one hard copy book of icebreaker and team building activities, which we had created as a year group in my second year of university. I soon realised that this was not enough to engage students as a supply teacher. I progressed to a large folder of ready-to-go activities for multiple age/year and ability levels. I will explain this more later. Here is a link to download a resource that I have designed for supply teachers. This link is FREE for thesupplyteacher.com readers. All these activities and more are inside my teaching apps stated below.

How do you ensure that the day runs smoothly for everyone?

I have learnt to gain control of your class as a supply teacher you first have to gain the respect and trust of the students. I would start the lesson with 3 or 4 icebreakers and team building games. I found that once I did this, the students would relax, and treat me with respect.

You create apps... Please tell us about how you got into creating them.

Creating apps came about after supply teaching in London in 2010 for 6 months. Continuing on from the question above, I had so many amazing resources all on different sheets of paper in this one folder. Fellow teachers were always asking for ideas and games that I had created; so I thought instead of carrying this large unorganised folder around, why not create a teaching app with everything a supply teacher needs. Over the next two years I continued to create new activities, resources and games. ClassBreak was released at the end of 2012. I now have 35 apps, 28 for IOS (apple) and 7 for Android.

Tell us about your five favourite apps for use by supply teachers

ClassBreak – This is by far my best app, a must have for all supply teachers. ClassBreak has over 250 different activities and lesson ideas designed specifically to assist supply teachers in day-to-day teaching.
BrainBreak – Getting students active and using their brains is such a powerful tool. Inside this app you will find nine different categories with over 180 activities and brain activation exercises.
Teacher Shake – This is such a fun simple app split into two different sections: activities to start your lesson; debrief and reflection ideas to finish lessons. Students love the function, simply shake your device a 5 to 10 minute activity will appear that does not require any equipment.
LiteracyBreak – As the name suggests, this app has over 60 different literacy games that teachers can use to improve literacy skills.
MathBreak – Like LiteracyBreak, this app is designed to engage students to improve their numeracy skill level. 

How do you see the needs of supply teachers' needs differing from long-term contracted teachers?

The only difference I see from contracted to supply teachers in apps is the data and evidence of work collecting apps. I believe all lessons should start with a 5 to 10 minute activity/game to get students active, engaged and thinking. Supply teaching is undoubtedly a challenging experience... coming into a situation where you do not know the students and often the students view the lesson as a “day off”. Students enjoy learning through games and activities; apps are a great way to provide these resources for supply teachers on the spot.

When you look into the future, what technology do you see in a typical classroom?

This is extremely exciting; the future for technology is endless. Some gadgets that excite me for example are: the new apple watch, fitbits and all the amazing apps for learning that are currently on the market. The introduction of iPads in the classroom brings education to life, interactive technology makes learning more engaging and memorable.

Who would be the ultimate supply teacher and why?

Been a passionate Australian who loves cricket, I would have to say Shane Warne. I have a couple of reasons for this. Firstly he is one of the best cricketers to ever play the game which would give him instant respect with students. Secondly he loves a joke and a laugh, this is a must for all supply teachers, as students want to have fun with you and see that you are human. Last Warnie is always happy, energetic and warm, qualities I believe to be the basis of a supply teacher. On a side note try to think of his positive characteristics, not all stories reported via the media are true.

And finally, what is your favourite supply teacher resource?

I love the forum feature of this website, this is such a powerful tool for all supply teachers and we are very lucky to receive such great advice and feedback from experts such as yourself Sharon, so thank you very much for that.

You can find Dale on Twitter, and his website is BreakAppz.

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