The ed-tech helping casual relief teachers manage busy classrooms

The ed-tech helping casual relief teachers manage busy classrooms

Recent reports have shown that Australia’s student population is set to rise 21% by 2030, but in the meantime, almost half of principals are experiencing teacher shortages in their schools.

The Quality Initial Teacher Education Review 2021 Discussion Paper highlighted that teachers finding full-time employment within four months of graduating ranges from over 90% in some courses to less than 60% in others.

Another challenge for school leaders is that the casual relief teachers (CRTs) they rely on the absence of full-time staff do not always have the experience needed to manage a busy classroom.

Studies have found that CRTs, just like full-time teaching staff members, need more support to access quality professional learning opportunities so they can develop their teaching expertise and improve outcomes in the classroom.

A report by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership’s (AITSL), titled: ‘Spotlight: Professional Learning for Relief Teachers’, found that CRTs across all states and territories are going through less professional training compared to their full-time counterparts.

Molly Delaney, a Melbourne-based primary school CRT, said that in her job, each day and each week looks different.

“We’re all across the common trope of students slacking off when they see a substitute teacher walk in, but the overwhelming challenge when it comes to building classroom rapport and assessing students’ learning capabilities is time,” Delaney told The Educator.

“As a CRT, you may only have one day in a classroom, and your role is to keep that program on track. This doesn’t leave much time to connect with students or get a gauge on how they’re tracking with the curriculum, which can be detrimental to some students who respond to different learning styles or forms of communication.”

Game-based learning platform Kahoot! recently launched a new EDU Support Program offering a 60-day site license for all education professionals to help deal with the teacher shortage crisis.

“Digital learning platforms like Kahoot! act as the ultimate ice-breaker. The platform is easy to use, even for those that struggle with technology, such as myself,” she said.

“With thousands of pre-developed quizzes available, I quickly earn back time, engage with students through a forum they enjoy, and gain insight on how each child is performing with a subject without resorting to traditional testing methods.”

Delaney said the interactive interface includes sounds and images that also help support students who perform strongly with different learning styles.

“My experience has shown that students respond extremely positively to Kahoot!, the mood changes instantly  when the platform is mentioned,” she said.

“I move consistently between different primary year levels, and it’s fairly easy to see the rise in engagement levels within any classroom as students get stuck into building or participating in a quiz. Having a tool that students identify with allows me to quickly build rapport and gain their trust.”