Occasional Teachers As Partners

In my classroom an Occasional Teacher is referred to as a Guest Teacher for many reasons. The most important being that the person who arrives that day is first and foremost a teacher. That individual is a qualified teacher who is there to help students continue on their daily academic journey. They are not there to keep students busy nor are they there to just supervise for the day.

It is very important that in my plans I both value and allow that incoming expertise to be shared with my students. Of course I have developed plans that will be a continuation of what is going on in my classroom but have left instructions that are open ended and allow the guest teacher to be able to adjust them based on the needs of the students they are working with as well as the expertise and experience they bring into our classroom. In that way, my students are able to enjoy and share the uniqueness of each teacher they work with.

My experience has taught me that one of the worst things I can do is to set up the guest teacher for failure or classroom management problems by assigning work that is not relevant or connected to the day-to-day academics that are occurring in that room. My students need to know that each and every task they are working on is important to their overall growth and academic success.

I truly enjoy the day after a Guest Teacher has been in my room and the students remember their name, tell me something personal they learned about that individual and are eager to share the work they completed. That type of response provides very valuable feedback about how well my students are transferring the classroom agreement to all individuals they come into contact with.

 I want to tell Occasional Teachers how important your role is and how much I appreciate the time and effort you put into my students. Thank you for everything you do as partners to contract teachers.


The Author

Mike Beetham

I am currently entering my 32nd year of teaching and work with the Waterloo Region District School Board in an area behaviour class. I am actively involved with ETFO at both the local and provincial level. My passions are my family, teaching, the outdoors and personal fitness.


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  1. Denise says:

    Wow, thank you so much for your thoughtful and professional post. I can’t tell you how much it means when others appreciate what OTs do, or try to do on a daily basis. It makes all the difference in the world when the school or at least the classroom teacher builds a community in the classroom that values all teachers (and volunteers for that matter). It is very apparent to OTs when students have this kind of understanding from their classroom teacher, and it is very much appreciated.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so very much for appreciating the hard work OTs do. You are truly someone who just gets it. As an OT I take my job seriously. I like to teach and connect with students when I get the chance and they like it too. I go into a classroom and try to pick up right where the teacher has left off so the students will attain the learning experience as if their regular teacher was there. It’s not always easy, but it is my goal. I found that some teachers want this, but other teachers are intimidated by that. I am a quick learner and I pick up on the dynamics of the classroom very quickly. When I get left busy work that is not relevant or I have not gotten any simple notes from the teacher, for example: “so and so like to talk so make sure you separate them” or “so and so needs extra attention and is sensitive to blank”. Sometimes teachers are sick and they can’t write the detailed plans but it would be nice if the Administration could show up and show the same appreciation for the OT as the classroom teacher or you. When no one shows up to make sure the OT has what they need it tells me that they don’t really care about the students. I thought education was suppose to be about the students…. Anyway, thanks again for showing you value us OTs when most of the time some of us feel very invisible. Thanks.

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