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Supply teachers

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​Following rules and routines

Possible issues

  • withdrawal from activities
  • insistence on being in control of activity or sequence
  • insistence on known routines, rules or sequences
  • resistance to new or altered activities, routines, sequences or rules
  • preoccupation or fascination with a specific topic or subject
  • not wanting to follow rules and routines of unfamiliar person.

Possible reasons for issues developing

  • new or different person to interact with; difficulties predicting what this person will do, say, expect of them
  • communication challenges: understanding spoken and written instructions, information and discussions; responding to a new communication partner; requesting information, assistance and or items, variations in expectations
  • variations and changes to social routines and expectations
  • sensory processing differences: changes to sensory information due to busyness and noise of classroom can be distracting
  • motivating and strengths-based tasks are less likely to be known and included
  • difficulties predicting what will happen next and what is required of them so avoids or withdraws from activity or lesson or chooses own topic of interest or own sequence
  • flexible thinking and executive functioning challenges: coping with changes or variations to usual rules and routines and sequences
  • limited opportunities to practise supply teacher routines and rules
  • limited understanding of alternate responses or options if known routine or sequence is not followed.

Suggested strategies and tips

  • use visual supports to enhance understanding: list of tasks, schedule showing what will happen after the lesson; visual cues and prompts; visually clear work systems and sequences; visual marks to show where to sit, stand, wait, participate
  • use ICT applications which allow for new or changed visual supports to be accessed immediately via a tablet; teach all staff to use application
  • clearly include interests and strengths in the schedule or list of tasks to provide motivation
  • use peers to support engagement: as models; scribes; as buddies using ICT; as helpers, demonstrators and explainers
  • reduce expectations to ensure success: limit transitions (changes) between tasks and activities; reduce number and complexity of tasks; increase access to preferred or strengths based tasks; provide frequent breaks
  • use known routines, sequences and work systems to support engagement; ensure visual supports, routines and work systems are labelled and available for all staff to use
  • consider and adjust if possible the sensory environment: classrooms with supply teachers can be noisier and busier so the student may need extra breaks, sensory tools (fidget toys, headphones) or access to a quiet work area more often.

Motivation and engagement

Possible issues

  • withdrawal from activities or interaction
  • insistence on being in control of activity or sequence
  • preoccupation or fascination with a specific topic or subject.

Possible reasons for issues developing

  • communication challenges: understanding spoken and written instructions, information and discussions; responding to new communication partner; requesting information, assistance and or items
  • sensory processing differences: changes to sensory information due to busyness and noise of classroom can be distracting
  • information sharing between Prep staff, supply teachers and parents may be reduced so motivating and strengths based tasks or routines are less likely to be included
  • difficulties predicting what will happen next and what is required of them so avoids or withdraws from activity or lesson or chooses own topic of interest
  • difficulties coping with varied or changed expectations, become upset and then finding it difficult to focus on important detail of lesson.

Suggested strategies and tips

  • use visu​al supports​ to enhance understanding: a list of tasks, schedule showing what is the same and what is different; visual cues and prompts; visually clear work systems and sequences; visual marks to show where to sit, stand, wait, participate
  • clearly include inte​rests​ and strengths in the schedule or list of tasks to provide motivation
  • consider using ICT applications to provide instant visual supports and alternate options of presentation or demonstration (digital story books, Explain Everything, Creative Book Builder)
  • differentiation tips for students with ASD​
  • usepeers​ to support engagement: as models; scribes; as buddies using ICT; as helpers, demonstrators and explainers
  • use known routines, sequences and work systems to support engagement even if peers are following a different routine
  • teach and explain the language needed for change such as today, tomorrow, next, after, different, same, new, okay
  • use concrete and real examples to support understanding of different or new expectations: link new to known activities such as Mrs ___ will be back in Prep C when you have show and tell tomorrow
  • provide warning (photo, story, information to parents) when possible to support understanding of the change​
  • check that important information is clearly displayed and available for supply teachers: hand over routines for the beginning and end of each session including play breaks; end of day procedures and plans; communication with parents; the daily routine and schedule; where to go/ask for assistance or guidance; buddy staff etc.

Further information

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Last updated 18 September 2020