Teacher Hacks – Top Tips and Tricks

Everyone needs a hand every now and then. To keep teachers and support staff up to date with the latest hints and tips on teaching, we’ve listed a few of our favourite ‘hacks’ that will help you in the classroom.

  1. Keep it Down

There are noise recognising apps you can install on your phone which sound an alarm when the decibel level goes over a certain amount. If your kids can get excited on occasion, this is a good way of reminding them to keep quiet during lessons.

  1. Prevent Early Finishers from Becoming Class Clowns

Having an ‘I’m Done!’ cup full of extra tasks for early finishers will prevent them from getting bored and trying to distract their classmates. Simple tasks like ‘practice your spellings’ or ‘read a poem from the poems book’ will keep their minds occupied.

  1. Hand Signals Help to Prevent Disruptions

SONY DSCSometimes your kids need a drink, or will want to use the toilet. Creating a series of hand signals designed to prevent disruption will help keep the peace during quiet time. They don’t have to be seriously complicated, but they need to be clear. If you want, you could even incorporate a bit of sign language into your hand signals to keep the learning going.

  1. Home-Made Homework Tray

If you need a quick fix homework tray, try using a simple foil baking tray decorated with some coloured paper. It works and it shows your pupils the power of recycling!

  1. Pencil Dispenser for the Disorganised

Some kids will never remember to bring a pencil. An old straw dispenser will double up as a pencil dispenser for when your pupils forget to bring their stationary. If you want to keep tabs on the number of pencils you have loaned out, attach a coloured strip to the base of each pencil.

The Importance of Learning Times Tables for Primary School Children

New plans revealed by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan will see children expected to fully know their times tables by the time they finish primary school. This will be done using an ‘on-screen check’ examination which is being piloted by around 3,000 students in 80 schools this year. If the on-screen check is a success, the test will be fully implemented countrywide in 2017.

It is said that both children and teachers will be judged by the results of the tests. And while people may not see a useful ‘application’ of the times tables in everyday life, once you start to dig a little deeper, it becomes apparent that Maths is as much an essential part of our life as the concept of energy in – energy out. The introduction of these tests will continue to bring to light the crucial role that a good maths education will play for children coming into the world as capable adults.

UntitledMixed Responses

While the introduction of these tests could spell out a new focus given the importance of the times tables, there are those who have expressed doubt at the method of learning being used. While tests are currently one of the only ways to accurately gather data on how children are learning and progressing, some primary teachers are worried at the introduction of yet more tests to the syllabus.

Xmas Bus Tours London

Particular areas of London happened upon a festive surprise late last month as the Westfield Christmas before Christmas Bus toured the city on the 22nd and 23rd of November. The snow covered double-decker bus provides a one-of-a-kind experience to children who happen upon it, as it has been set out like a winter playground for children of primary school age.

Travelling Winter Playground

320px-Fairy_lights_Christmas_bus_412_OCD_Brigthon_21_november_2007Kids can join in to participate in a number of fun activities, from sitting in an ancient igloo style setting, to getting their faces painted and bopping to the beat with the bus’s in-house DJ station. There is even a chance for the kids to glimpse an appearance of old Saint Nicholas himself, visiting from the North Pole to spread a little festive cheer in advance of the holiday season.

Spreading the Cheer

On November 22nd, it took the regal tour, stopping at places such as the Houses of Parliament and Southwark Cathedral, as well as making a stop at the Westfield Stratford City Centre for children to enjoy. It surprised the pupils and teachers of Fulham Primary School on November 23rd, driving through Kensington High Street and stopping so that the kids could meet Bjorn the animatronic polar bear; one of the attractions on the bus and so that they could grab a few mince pies.

The whole appearance was an unmissable early experience of Christmas cheer and was well enjoyed by all who saw the surprise Christmas before Christmas Bus.

Helping Introverted Children Learn Without Pressure

When it comes to introverted and extroverted children, both cases can cause some difficulties for supply teachers in the classroom. However the difference between the two is fairly obvious, and it is so far a fair bit easier to tell whether or not the extroverted child is happy or sad. With an introverted child, you may feel like you’re left guessing.

What is important is that children feel comfortable to learn in their own way, yet can still challenge themselves. You need to be able to get this balance in a classroom filled with both introverts and extroverts!

Give them their space

introvertIntroverted children will often work quietly on their own or in smaller groups with no trouble at all. If an introverted child isn’t taking part in class discussions, it is not often because they are unhappy, but simply that they do not feel they have anything relevant to add. Try not to urge them to answer questions, but praise them when they do in order to give them that confidence to speak up without being pressured.

Group work is still important

While introverted children may feel they work better on their own, encouraging group work is still important and should be encouraged. Team skills and working in a team is important for much later on in life, so it is essential that you cultivate these skills from a younger age. Start off by working in smaller groups and then work up to larger group projects. Your introverted child will soon be off to a flying start!

Schools No Longer Teaching Creationism

All public schools throughout the UK will now be prevented from teaching Creationism as if it were scientific fact in their classes. Although many public schools already took this into account when teaching Creationism, it has now been announced that all public funded schools as well as any existing and future academies will be following the new rule.
od-300x197The changes come as a result of ensuring that the education sector remains open minded to multiple religions and practises as a part of ‘multi-cultural Britain’. Although Creationism is still relatively important in teaching our young people how the Earth ‘came to be’ it has taken more of a back seat role in religion recently as many mainstream churches and religious traditions even go so far as to reject Creationism as a theory.
Because it lacks scientific evidence – a factor which is becoming more and more crucial every day with each new discovery we make as a species about our world – Creationism must not be taught as scientific fact. However this will not discredit the teaching of Creationism in public schools, it is just important to make sure that it is not taught as a reliable alternative to any scientific theory of our origin.

70% of Schools Have Children Learning on Tablets

tablet-275x300Modern technology is storming the way we look at everyday life. With more and more children becoming tech-savvy with the latest gadgets, according to recent research around 70% of UK primary and secondary schools use tablet computers in lessons.

In some cases – around 9% – there are schools where each individual has their own tablet with which they can learn.

Although this trend has vastly grown in popularity with the recent boom of tablets and smart phones in the past few years, there is no physical evidence to suggest that the use of these tablets have improved learning capabilities.

However this is not necessarily a bad thing, as pupils can often access the internet through mobile devices which is widely known as the ‘world’s best procrastination device’ so with a little focus and a push in the right direction, tablets can easily be integrated into day to day teaching.

Children use the internet to connect socially with their friends and relatives, and many young children know well enough how to operate a tablet and how to perform a search on Google, so it is widely considered important for teachers and substitute teachers to incorporate these aspects of society into their teachings.

After all, the internet is a vast wealth of knowledge just waiting to be tapped into, so to deny future generations the ability to access it may be more damaging in the long run than having to figure out creative ways of preventing access to Facebook on the schools intranet system.

Out Goes the Traditional Nativity

It’s out with the old and in with the new for School Nativities across the nation this year. With one in three schools hosting a traditional nativity play nowadays many of the adapted performances have been called Winter Celebrations or End of Year Concerts in an attempt to stray away from the traditional Nativity scene while at the same time honouring its memory by replacing the name.

nativity-300x187A more ‘updated’ nativity is now often in place in schools, featuring modernised stars such as drunk spacemen, Elvis, fairies, footballers and even modernised issues such as recycling and global warming. Other nativities host ‘Apprentice Style’ Christmases with ‘Lord Christmas’ playing the lead role instead of Father Christmas.

Although this is a modern take on the traditional Nativity and may have been done to increase inclusion for those not celebrating Christmas as a Christian holiday – or those celebrating other Winter holidays such as Hanukkah and Diwali – many parents are against this new trend of an updated Christmas Nativity, instead preferring to teach their children the story of Christ at home.

However you choose to celebrate Christmas, what it boils down to is celebrating the spirit of goodwill among mankind and being grateful for the gifts you have and the family you can share it with. We at Redbox Teachers hope you have a fantastic time, whatever you celebrate, and Happy Holidays and a Prosperous New Year.

Tips For your first PGCE Observation

tick-300x296When it comes to your first PGCE observation as a teacher in training, it is important to remember that the appraising tutor has probably seen hundreds of lessons of the same type, so the chances are that at least 10% of those lessons were complete disasters, so they’re prepared for absolutely anything to happen.

The point of these appraisals is to help you build upon existing traits and to help improve upon your weaker teaching points so that you can grow and learn as a teacher in your own right.

These tutors are not here to assess your ability; they are merely there to help you develop your own skills as a fully fledged teacher.

Know your subject well as many teachers in training might try out an entirely new subject in order to impress the tutor; however this can lead to unplanned detours as children will react in ways that you often won’t expect. Make copies of everything; the lesson plan, resources, work sheets etc. so that you can give them to your support staff as well as have a few spares where needed.

All in all it is important to relax and stay calm. These tutors are here to assess your ability to adapt, especially when things don’t quite go as planned. Enjoy it and remember that the most crucial thing is to make sure your pupils are learning!

Training Teacher Shortage Expected

homework-300x300A teacher training shortage this term may lead to schools looking outside the UK for qualified primary teachers. It has been reported that around 32,500 people have started or plan to start teacher training courses at the start of this term in comparison to the target of 34,800 people expected to start.

This shortage of over 2000 places of well-qualified staff across the country can become a major issue if not resolved soon.

Schools will have to rely on utilising supply teachers, teaching assistants or part time teachers who do not yet have the full qualifications in this new recruitment crisis. Another solution is to increase class sizes; however this has had a negative effect on students’ learning in the past.

Despite offering bursaries worth up to £25,000 tax free to graduates training in priority subjects such as maths, sciences and languages, students training to become teachers have decreased steadily in the past few years, leaving schools with a worrying shortage.

With the possibility of a teacher shortage in store for the future, we are constantly looking for qualified supply teachers, teaching assistants and teaching support staff. Why not submit your CV with RedBox teachers today for great teaching opportunities throughout primary schools in London and the surrounding areas?


uniced-300x199Hundreds of schools across the country took part in a UNICEF campaign which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. These rights were created in order to better protect youngsters and improve a sense of community. Rights include providing what a child essentially needs to survive and grow in order to fulfil their true potential and these rights are given to every child regardless of age, race or gender.

Young pupils at Aberchirder Primary took part in a nationwide celebration of children’s rights by walking through the town on Thursday 20th November and delivering messages to local passersby about what the 1989 UN Convention meant to them and their individual learning. It was a new and exciting opportunity for the children to pass on what they had learnt about the convention as well as expressing their own views as to how things can be improved in the future.

The pupils have been praised for taking an interest into equal rights for all and it is encouraging to see young children taking an active stance in raising awareness for underprivileged children who still struggle all over the world. As teachers, we fully support the idea that every child should have the right to a professional education that helps them to grow as an individual. Why not apply for a substitute teaching position today to make a difference in a child’s life?