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Teaching out of subject area as a remote teacher

Remote community schools can be small (so limited staff juggling the curriculum) or hard to staff and this sometimes means you might be asked to teach out of your qualified subject area. This can be overwhelming for teachers who are new to remote teaching- you have just moved to a new isolated small town, learning a new culture, getting used to a new job and learning the ways of your new school… learning how to teach students who are often very likely ESLD, have vastly varying abilities in one class and special learning needs.

Ultimately it is less than ideal but is the frustrating reality for lots of remote students who attend these schools.

So what do you do when that happens so you can give the best possible learning experience to your students?

  1. Join online communities for the out of area subjects you are asked to teach. You will be able to find support, get advice, share resources and get prepared. For example: Australian 5/6 Teachers, Australian Prep Teachers , Australian Secondary Maths Teachers, Primary History Teachers, Perth HPE Teachers Connect etc
  2. Just plan the first week or two of term- and make this mainly getting to know you, team building, establishing expectations and subject basics. Use this time to get to know the background knowledge of your students, the Scope&Sequence or curriculum and to see what programs and resources your school has.
  3. Ask your administration, Head of Learning or team leader for the hand over documents, planning and curriculum documents for that subject or for access to the SharedDrive or online folders.
  4. Use the resources that are already out there while you find your feet and start your own planning- Twinkl, TeachStarter, TPT, The Wheel etc.
  5. Ask teachers what they are doing and see if you can collaborate, moderate and co-plan together over on Teachers In Remote Communities (past, present, future) which is free for all remote staff over on Facebook or on our The Remote Teacher Members Mastermind Facebook group.
  6. Investigate programs that have worked for other schools that would supplement your teaching- Reading Eggs, SpellCity (free versions), Prodigy (free), MineCraft (free challenge worlds), Skwirk, Hour of Code to name a few.
  7. Look for Youtube channels of teachers in that subject area who can explain the topics in simple terms (learn one step ahead of your students) or to your students if you might have trouble articulating it yourself. Some examples:
  8. Ask your Aboriginal colleagues what has been done in the past that was engaging and worked for students. In particular ask how the curriculum can be culturally appropriate, connected to on Country learning or if there are Elders or locals who can deliver parts of the learning (ie. the ranger program or Aboriginal health workers to deliver parts).
  9. Up-skill in the subject area through PD, Graduate Certificates or programs such as the WA Leap program (free program for teachers to upskill to areas of need). During COVID-19 in 2020 the Australian Government subsidised some Graduate Certificates for teachers reducing the cost significantly- check if there are subsidies, scholarships or grants that you can apply for or ask if your school will fund your training.
  10. Consider joining an association such as: Australian Association of the Teaching of English (AATE), Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers, Australian Science Teachers Association, History Teacher’s Association of Australia, The Australian Performing Arts Association, Design and Technology Teachers Association, Australian School Library Association etc.
  11. Find suitable text books to use as a basis for your planning- then elaborate on the textbook activities with hands-on, engaging or on Country activities where possible.

Any additional advice? Share below!

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Hi, we are Hakea Hustler and Carl Merrison

We help new remote teachers feel confident and successful  so that they can make the most of their time remote and live a life of adventure.

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