What is a traveling teacher?
Limited school budgets and overcrowded schools have districts scrambling for a way to maximize space in a cost-effective way. Many times, this means that the low-cost solution is to use traveling teachers. A traveling, floating or mobile teacher does not have a classroom assigned to them. Instead, they travel or around the school using classrooms that are owned by other teachers who aren’t utilizing their classrooms during planning periods or lunch breaks.
How do schools determine who will be a traveling teacher?
According to the article, How to Equip Floating Teachers for Successful Classroom Sharing, the following criterion typically determines who will be a traveling teacher in a school:
- Full time versus part time teacher status
- Student caseload
- Teacher seniority
- Content area taught
If you are new to teaching or if you’ve accepted a position at a new school, keep in mind that becoming a traveling teacher may be a reality, at least initially.
Tips for Survival
Did your professors or student teaching experience prepare you for being a traveling teacher? If not, here are some tips that can help you prepare and also succeed for this very different way of teaching.
TIP 1: MOBILE CART
If you’re floating from classroom to classroom, then you will need a mobile “classroom” or cart to help keep all of your supplies at hand. Choose your traveling teacher’s cart wisely. You must choose a cart that is durable, dependable and easy to maneuver. The cart should have compartments like baskets or drawers so that you can separate what you need for different classes. Have students help you decorate and customize your cart to make it more personal.
TIP 2: ORGANIZATION
If you are to have all your ducks in a row at any given moment, then you must be overly organized. Organization will help you be a successful traveling teacher. For paperwork, accordion file folders are your best friend! With multiple sections, you can separate and label incoming and outgoing student work, a place for attendance, copies of assignments or tests for each class that you teach, supplies and anything else that you need on a daily basis. This hyper-organized way of living always you to always be prepared, just as you would if you had your very own classroom.
TIP 3: MAINTAIN A POSITIVE RAPPORT WITH COLLEAGUES
Establish and maintain a good working relationships with the teachers that you share a room with by learning how to be respectful of their classroom. You will meet teachers will different personalities, that have different rules, and different things that drive them crazy. Introduce yourself to the teachers that you will be sharing a classroom with and ask them how you can be respectful of their wishes while in their classroom. Do they keep certain supplies in a specific area? Are you allowed to use their desk? Is there a section of the board that they can dedicate to you for your teaching needs? Once you’ve established a good working relationship, request other information like, what is the process for a fire drill? Check out a list of other questions that you should be asking the owner of the classroom.
TIP 4: TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TECHNOLOGY
Technology can be your friend as a traveling teacher. Create a website that each class can access from anywhere. You can post notes, assignments, post pictures of work or crafts, review what will be on a test… the possibilities are endless! If you don’t have your own classroom, you may have to rethink how you want to interact with students and have open communication with them when they are not in a classroom with you.
Are you ready to become a traveling teacher? Give yourself an advantage and research best practices for being a mobile teacher so that you can prepare (as much as you possibly can) before you roll that cart into the classroom. Whether or not you have your own classroom, it’s important to remember that you are a teacher through and through.
Have you ever had the experience of being a traveling teacher? What tips can you give to other teachers who will be experiencing this for the first time?