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Be Prepared

Teach in Ontario

Since you may often be offered an assignment at the last minute, it is important to be organized and ready to go at a moment’s notice. There are a number of things that you can do to make this go smoothly:

Organize your work clothing for easy access in the morning. Often the first impression formed about an individual is based upon appearance. Your choice of clothing should reflect your professional standing. Most school administrators expect ”business casual” dress, and frown upon jeans, shorts, T-shirts, sandals or revealing clothing.

Prepare files on each school containing maps, start times and other pertinent information. Keep the files neatly organized so that you are able to quickly locate the file you need.

Research the curriculum for subjects and grade levels to which you may be assigned. Curriculum documents for the Elementary level and Secondary level can be found on the Ministry of Education website.

Prepare packages containing puzzles, mind benders, lessons and activities for each subject and grade level that you may be called to cover. Appropriate packages can be taken to the classroom and used as needed.

Many occasional teachers prepare a bag of materials that they take to every classroom assignment. Items in the bag vary depending on the interests and strengths of the teacher involved, but there are some items that every occasional teacher should carry. These include:

  • A whistle
  • Decks of cards for math games
  • Music CDs
  • Trivia cards
  • Hand puppets
  • Timer
  • Stickers
  • Mind benders
  • Spinner
  • Eraser, chalk, glue, etc.
  • Post-it note pads
  • Calculator
  • Puzzles
  • Books
  • Dice
  • Folder games
  • Personal items
  • Name tags

Another important item to put into your bag is a checklist to guide you through the day. When assigned to a new school, there are many things you must do upon arrival, and it is easy to forget something. A comprehensive checklist will help to ensure that you don’t forget anything important.

You should arrive early at the school on the day of your assignment to give yourself an opportunity to complete the checklist.

Occasional Teacher Checklist


Special needs accommodations/modifications
Make note of students who leave the classroom for program support or those who need in-class accommodation.


Special health concerns
Are there students in your class who have medical concerns? Do they require medication? Where is it located? What is the procedure?


Opening exercises/announcements
Determine the regular routine for anthem, announcements, prayers, etc.


Supervision duties
Determine whether you have duty and the procedures involved when on duty.


Fire drill procedures
Determine the procedures and exits applying to the classroom to which you are assigned.


First aid
Determine the first aid procedure and the location of the first aid kit.


Audio-visual equipment
Determine if audio-visual equipment is required throughout the day and where it is located.


Determine if there is material that must be copied and the procedure for doing so.


Computer use
Determine the policies concerning computer use.


Determine the procedures for visiting the library.


Physical education/gym
Determine procedures for gym class. Do students change? Do you need a key?


Student dress code
Is there a dress code or uniform? Are there any procedures regarding dress code violations?


Use of electronic devices
What are the school/classroom policies regarding the use of MP3 players, cell phones, etc.


Entry procedures
Determine what the entry procedures for your class are and where you should be to greet the students.


Attendance procedures
Determine the attendance procedure.


Washroom/fountain visits
Determine the classroom procedure for washroom and fountain visits.


Determine the procedure for lunch dismissal and lunch supervision.


End of day/dismissal routines
Determine the end of day procedures and the routines for tidying up.

Download checklist as a Word Document or as a PDF .

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A Typical Day