The Lana Learn team in Vietnam ensures class availability and instructor support through communication and consistency.
The Lana Learn team of instructors in Vietnam is small. There’s a mere four of us running the English language training program at Unit 871 in Hanoi. We currently operate three classes simultaneously every six-month semester. The US Air Force funds this four-year program, so we have a strict performance work statement (PWS) that outlines requirements. One of the stipulations in our PWS states that instructors must be available to teach 95% of scheduled classes. Because of this, we made the decision early on during our mobilization period to hire a fourth instructor. This person acts as a cover teacher, handles base operations, and provides instructor support. Here’s how we ensure consistency and give our students the best possible classroom experience.
Traits of a cover teacher
Being a cover teacher requires you to be flexible, consistent, and have a positive attitude. A sense of humor doesn’t hurt either when you walk into a classroom of new students. An effective cover teacher must also be fair and have high expectations – standards should remain consistent despite changes in instructors. Additionally, good organizational skills and time management are key.
Because we have regular team meetings, the instructors are always up-to-date on what is going on in each classroom. We discuss teaching methods and strategies, student strengths and weaknesses, and upcoming projects and exams. This ensures awareness and consistency when a class needs a last minute cover teacher.
Cover teacher preparation
Prior notice for needing a cover teacher isn’t always possible; emergencies happen, people get sick. Therefore, a cover teacher must be able to “teach on the fly” when he or she walks into the classroom. It’s important to have an arsenal of games and activities that can be used with almost any lesson content. These types of engaging activities also allow the cover teacher to break the ice with students and allow them to feel comfortable with a new teacher.
On the other hand, preparation is key. Communication between the regular instructor and cover teacher is crucial for the students’ benefit. Providing lesson plans detailing recent course content gives a reference point for the cover teacher. Additionally, outlining a plan for upcoming course content gives the students a better classroom experience. No one knows the goals and vision for a class better than their instructor. Therefore, providing ample class details helps the cover teacher understand focus areas.