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Gemma Clancy October 10, 2018 5 min read

What to pack in your reliever bag?

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“What should I take when I go relieving?”
“Do I plan for the whole day?”
“What happens if I get there and they’ve changed the year group I’m meant to be teaching?”
These are common questions often asked by relievers.
 
It can be quite unsettling, especially if it’s a new school. Relievers often don’t know if there’s going to be work left for them or if they have free rein of the class. There’s also the chance of a schedule change - That Friday assembly has just been cancelled and now you’ve got an extra hour to cover! So what should you take to ensure you’re covered?
 
Through developing SeekaTeacher I have been able to discuss with relievers all over NZ their most common questions when it comes to relieving.
"What do I pack in my bag?" is a common one, so below I’ve outlined what I like to pack or have ready for the day. The best part is, you can pick and choose which one’s work for you and create your own Mary Poppins bag, so enjoy :)
 
Laptop - I often take mine so I can hook it up to the class screen (however this may not always be available in schools). They’re great for showing short videos on Youtube if you’re wanting to create class discussions or inquire around a topic e.g. a clip on volcanoes. Pobble is also a fantastic website to show thought-provoking pictures which I've found great for discussions or for creative writing and is definitely worth checking out. I also like to have my computer on hand in case I need to print off or find any extra activities during the day.
 
Dice - They're easy to carry around, cheap and can be used in many different ways and in a variety of curricular areas. They’re great for partner games or you can use them for whole class activities. Try to pick ones that don’t have too many rules and that can be altered for year groups. Here’s a website that has 9 dice games but if you just google “Dice games for kids” loads come up!
 
Activities - These will vary according to what year group you teach but again I like to pick activities that can be adapted for different year levels so that you’re not re-inventing the wheel every time you move class. Try and pick a theme and move throughout the year levels with it. I also like to look at a calendar and see if there are any special days coming up - Fathers day, Anzac day, world children day, international women's day, zero discrimination day…..Wow there’s one for every day - check out this website International Days, you won’t be short for ideas! Don’t forget to keep your master copies and file them away in a folder (which I explain below).
 
Folders- I’ve definitely learnt it makes life so much easier if I keep my activities organised by separating them into clear folders according to the year levels, this helps when being called in last minute. However, I still like to take the folders for all year levels in case my day changes and I get asked to teach another class. Each folder doesn’t need to be stacked with resources but just 1 of each and you can photocopy the rest when you know how many kids are in that class. Keep a master of the resources that went well and discard the ones that didn’t. Write a note on which class/school has used that resource for future reference either on the clear folder or in a notebook (mentioned below).
 
Games listI like to have list of indoor and outdoor games that I can quickly refer to, that way I’m not always trying to remember off the top of my head what to play. Kids LOVE learning a new game, it motivates them and gets them excited. Keep it simple to start with and then slowly add in rules.
 
Some inside games I like to play with the kids are:
· Night at the Museum
· Silent Koosh (use a teddy or a ball but definitely a fav for obvious reasons!)
· Squashed tomato
· Who am I?
 
Outside games (it pays to have some ideas that don’t require equipment incase the school doesn’t have what you need)
· Ultimate Tag
· School hunt
· Seaweed
· Paper, Scissors, Rock, Hop
 
If you’re not sure what these games are or how to play them, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you. I will eventually pop in some links to each one explaining how to play but for now, if you want to try any, don’t hesitate to ask!
 
Rewards – This can be a personal preference. I usually like to follow the reward system of the school but sometimes it's fun to mix it up and make up my own one up for the day that doesn't require something physical. For example, those children who you would like to reward could roll the dice -that you have in your bag :) and whatever number they get is how many minutes they get to go out to play early, or something like that, you can just make it up and gamify it! 
 
Notebook - This is definitely key to have in your bag. Take note of what dates you worked at a particular school and which class you took, what activities you did and perhaps any other reminders you may need for the next time you're in there. Keeping track of your days is always good for payday too!
 
For YourselfMost schools will have pens, whiteboard pens etc and I usually don’t take extra but I know a lot of relievers like to take a ziplock bag with the essentials they know they’ll need rather than hunting around the classroom for them, such as 'Special colouring in Pens,' marking pens etc. Take hand sanitizer, a hat during the Summer, sunblock, drink bottle and of course your lunch!
 
Once you get to know the school and the resources that are available, you can begin to plan activities that may require a few extra bits and bobs, but I wouldn’t go out and splurge on any. There are plenty of ideas out there that require very little resources, so just pack what you need and build on it from there, keep it simple and most of all HAVE FUN! Think of yourself as the fun Aunty or Uncle who gets to come in and play for the day!
 
If you're interested to find out more about how SeekaTeacher connects relievers with schools all from your device then head over to our page :)
Anything to make it easier for us to pick up work and keep track of our days right?