9 Awesome Ways To Be Helpful to a Traveling Teacher
Will you have to give up your classroom during your planning period because of a traveling teacher? Here are 9 awesome ways you can be helpful to a traveling teacher.
Having to share your classroom with a traveling teacher can be inconvenient for you, but it is necessary for those teachers who do not have a space to call their own. As I mentioned in this post, I am a former traveling teacher. The advice in this article stems from things I either learned from colleagues who helped me, or they are things I wished some of my colleagues knew.
Most of the teachers that I shared a room with were hospitable towards the situation, while others did not take too kindly. If you find yourself having to share a space with another teacher, there are actually a few things that you, the host teacher, can do to make the arrangement easier for both you and the traveling teacher.
This post is about how to be helpful to a traveling teacher.
What To Do
1. To be helpful to a traveling teacher, give them a space to call their own
For the traveling teacher, space is at a premium. If they’re lucky, they may have a cart to push from room to room. If possible, try to allot an area where they can keep some items so they don’t have to push all their stuff around every day.
Another space that you could share would be your desk. I know that some teachers have a hard time keeping their desks clean (the messier the desk, the more creative the mind, right?), but allowing a traveling teacher to sit at your desk while you are away will help establish that teacher’s authority in the classroom for that hour. Students automatically associate the teacher’s desk as a sacred space, so allowing the traveling teacher to sit there would be helpful to them.
2. Make sure the traveling teacher has space to write on the board
Another area that might be difficult to share is the whiteboard/chalkboard. I am fortunate to have two whiteboards in my classroom, so if I did have a traveling teacher in my room, they would be able to claim one of the whiteboards for themselves! If you only have one board, try to keep space available for your guest to use. Most traveling teachers are courteous enough to not erase anything on the board, so if they have no space, then they either have to make due or erase something that could potentially be important to you.
3. Remember that their classroom management style is not the same as yours
Let’s say that you’ve evacuated your classroom for the hour, but you need to get something from your desk. It is okay to enter the classroom to get what you need! However, don’t be surprised if the class is a little rowdier than you’d like or behaving in ways that you think are wrong. Unless the students are about to harm themselves or others, turn a blind eye to it.
4. Be welcoming
In order to be helpful to a traveling teacher, you need to be welcoming! It is important to remember that most traveling teachers do not want to be in this situation. It isn’t their fault that they’re in your room! Make sure to take time out of your day to say hi, ask if they need anything, or see how their day is going.
Chances are, a little bit of kindness will show the traveling teacher that you also accept the situation even though it is inconvenient for everyone.
What Not To Do
1. Do not stay in the classroom.
Listen, I know it is frustrating to have to give up your space. Maybe you work in a district where there is a desktop computer in each classroom and that is where you get your work done. Unfortunately, that is not a good enough reason to stay in your classroom while the traveling teacher is teaching. Chances are, they will also need access to that classroom computer as well.
Some teachers (traveling or not) do not always enjoy having a spectator in their classroom. It isn’t that they are doing anything wrong, but there is something different about teaching students with another adult in the room. Unless the traveling teacher has specifically told you to stay, courtesy would dictate that you leave the space.
If you must stay in the classroom, do not participate, do not ask questions, do not answer student questions unless invited to do so. By interjecting, you are possibly taking away the teacher’s authority.
2. Do not critique the teacher.
Whether you are sitting in the classroom, or you are stopping in to grab something, do not critique the teacher unless asked. I have had unsolicited critiques before and they made me feel like crap. Seriously, unless you are asked to be an observer and to give notes, DO NOT make comments to the teacher about their teaching or their students.
3. Do not discipline the teacher’s students
This goes back to who is the authority figure in the classroom. This is not about egos. As previously mentioned, unless a student is about to harm themselves or another student, try not to discipline the student. If you feel that something must be said, casually bring it up to the teacher at another time.
I personally would rather have a teacher nicely point something out to me than them feeling like they need to discipline my students. It makes me feel inadequate and it can confuse the student. Keep in mind, that moment you observed is a small part of a larger context. If you don’t know the context, you may be stepping out of bounds anyway.
For example, in my school, students are not allowed to have cell phones out unless given specific permission to be on them. A teacher just seeing a student on a cell phone may assume that the student is breaking a rule and may try to discipline them. This could cause unnecessary frustration to all parties involved.
If there are problems
1. Talk with the traveling teacher first
I personally believe in respect. It’s kind of one of those “treat others as you want to be treated” kinds of things. I would much rather have a conversation with a peer than being blindsided by an administrator. If an issue does come up, speaking directly with the teacher shows respect; you are treating them like a professional.
Odds are, the traveling teacher may not be aware of the situation and it can easily be fixed with communication.
2. Talk to the administrator second
However, if you feel that something is beyond being saved by conversation, then definitely talk to an administrator/principal about the situation. I want to be transparent with you; if you choose to talk to an administrator, this may cause a rift in any relationship you may be trying to build with the traveling teacher.
In conclusion, being a traveling teacher is hard, but it isn’t always easy for the host teacher either. Remember this will most likely not be a permanent set up and you will have your classroom all to yourself again. In the meantime, I hope that this post helped you to become more helpful to a traveling teacher that you may have in your room.