Don’t you just hate it when you have to be out of the classroom for whatever reason and you have to leave cover work? Furthermore I hate it when you go to a class on a cover period (“please take”, “huvtae” etc) and there is either no work left or it’s a DVD or, my personal favourite, “Go to BBC iPlayer, choose something that fits with the subject, thanks”. I hate these scenarios because
- generally speaking the pupils hate it too and are bored with it
- very little progression occurs in learning
- behaviour is usually bad
- if a DVD or iPlayer is on, the cover teacher can’t use the computer to do any work (unless they have extended display and know how to use it).
Why is it 4. always seems to happen during report writing season?
The only time I ever leave a movie to watch is if we happen to be doing the Film Studies unit at the time and even then I try my best to avoid leaving it. I also find that the nature of my subject, Modern Languages, causes further issues. Yes, we have really good textbooks we can leave exercises from, but if the learners run into any difficulties it’s usually because they don’t understand and need somone who does to explain it to them and often that’s not possible for the cover teacher, I mean, I wouldn’t have a clue in a Biology cover lesson. So setting up these lessons normally takes me hours.
Even more frustrating though is when you do spend hours creating what you hope are straightforward, accessible cover lessons/worksheets only to find upon your return that nothing has been done, learners have been off-task or their behaviour has been so bad that they have either been given something else to do, or the cover teacher has just let them talk quietly because without you there, the class doesn’t see the point in doing the work or will give up as soon as it gets a little bit difficult.
Last year I decided to take a new tack on this and started leaving ClassDojo cover work. I incorporated the reward of Dojo points for activities completed and given that this could ultimately lead to IT games time (see “Creating a Positive Ethos“) application in cover lessons drastically improved. Here are some examples to give you an idea:
While these cover worksheets still take a lot of time to create, as completion and therefore consolidation is improved, it makes it seem more worthwhile. My colleague in the department has started doing the same for his cover work and we now store everything centrally on the school network, so we’re building up a bank of cover lessons for future use.