I was not looking forward to it much, as I never know what kind of experience I'll get relieving - the kids are often fed up because their usual teacher is away, and some have a default setting that it should be used as an opportunity to lark around and goof off. If more than about 3 in a class feel this way the day can be just a drag and babysitting, which I really dislike.
But I came in bright, confident and breezy. I showed them I knew a bit about a lot of things they were doing (web design). Then I did something I've not done before - I told them a bit about me and my own kids. I usually think "well, I'm only here for the day, you probably don't care to want to know me." It was a good move! I immediately detected a change in the 'climate' to respect and a positive attitude. I was then able to get them going, and to move about the room asking each student to show me what they were working on, and engage them one at a time, something I always find gets them settled and focussed on their learning.
They were 11 and 12 year olds. At this age a few - especially the girls - can be starting to get an affected air of blasé cynicism which I find the toughest thing to break through. But a little selective ignoring and working one on one seems to help. I rarely have any issues with boys - even the naughtiest ones respond to a good joke and my honest interest in them.
The day seemed to fly by, and I was quite sorry to say goodbye to them at three o'clock.