Supply teaching has its perks. Flexible hours, working with multiple schools at the same time, covering more than one subject and so much more. Despite these benefits, there are some tips and tricks you need to know to get the most out of this unique teaching position.
Get There Early
Sticking to the school’s schedule and being punctual goes a long way towards winning over the school’s trust and being organised. Getting to your supply job early gives you time to set up your lesson, catch up on material and familiarise yourself with the classroom.
Get the Details
Clear up all the details you need to lead the class. Ask the teacher or school if there is pre-set work that will be provided or if you will need to prepare a lesson by yourself. Knowing what the class has covered and is currently working on is a smart way to make your supply teaching job a seamless and effective experience for you and the students.
Bring Your Own Resources
No matter what pre-set work may be prepared for you it’s always wise to bring your own resources. Making a copy of the pre-set work is always a good idea in case something goes missing or if something goes wrong. Being familiar with the resources you bring will also help with class productivity and boost your confidence.
Introduce Yourself to Everyone
Make sure to introduce yourself to all the staff you meet during your supply work. Teachers, caretakers, and other staff members can be helpful and show you around the school or tell you how things work. Making connections with as many teachers as possible to also a smart move for any supply teacher.
Ask About the Students
Knowing the classwork is only a part of the job. Knowing what the students respond to and what they are currently learning are great things to know for any well-prepared supply teacher. Ask about any special needs students may have or anything that you may need to adjust your plans for. Introducing yourself to the students might make the learning environment more comfortable and may help students focus on what you are teaching.
Make Yourself Familiar
Learn as much as you can about your teaching space. This includes things as small as how the projector works, where the light switch is, how many desks there are and where classroom supplies are. The more comfortable and familiar you are with the classroom, the less chance there is for something to go wrong or disrupt you while you teach.
Learn About Routines
Supply teachers that are teaching more than one class or will be teaching a class all day will need to know the routine. Knowing what happens next and how long each class needs to be will give you more authority and control over the class. Asking students what comes next is not the best idea for a teacher to do. Knowing the class’ routine helps prepare a supply teacher.
Have Fun Ideas for Time Fillers
It is quite likely that there will be times of the day where you will need to fill short gaps of time - for example, if the pre-set work is finished faster than anticipated. A good supply teacher knows how to fill these gaps with fun activities to keep students stimulated and even potentially bond with them. These ideas will need to vary for the age groups you are teaching, but ideas like puppets, mad-libs, entertaining educational videos, etc. are the mark of a well prepared and effective supply teacher.
Know Bathroom Limits and Break Times
Check the school rules for children using the toilet. Many students might feel like they can exploit the rules or mess around when a supply teacher has taken over for another teacher. It will also look bad on you if students leave the classroom for extended periods of time or if half the class is missing. Keep to the school rules and show them that even though you are a supply teacher you still have authority. This is also a good way to uphold school values. Knowing the length of break times will also keep students in line. If a break is 10 minutes long, then be sure you are ready once the students return and make sure they return at the right time.
Be Prepared for Problems
There are three problems every supply teacher should prepare for before their day’s work: No cover work has been set, technological hiccups and behaviour management.
No Cover Work
Turning up to a lesson and finding that no cover work has been set is a problem most supply teachers have faced, and you need to be prepared for it. Try to confirm that cover work will be set with the school or teacher and never assume that the lesson plan is set in stone. There needs to be some wiggle room in your plan in case the provided plans do not play out as they should.
It is a nerve-wracking experience when your lesson is put on hold because the projector refuses to connect or because the computer froze. Make sure you have an alternate plan in case the classroom’s technology fails. Familiarising yourself with classroom equipment before your lesson is a good way to avoid technical problems. It is also a good idea to know who to contact in the school if you are faced with IT difficulties.
Behaviour challenges can be a very frustrating problem for a supply teacher to solve. Losing your temper will only escalate the problem and with a completely new class, it is hard to know how to overcome challenging student behaviour. Ask for a copy of the school’s behaviour policy so you know how to react in a way that keeps to the school’s standard procedures. Identifying students that might potentially act out can also help you prepare. Isolating the problem as soon as possible is a good way of nipping bad behaviour in the bud and keeping situations from escalating out of control. You can also register with Simply Education and gain access to our online CPD learning programmes, many of which specialise in behaviour management skills.
There is a lot that makes a supply teacher’s job different and fun. Following these tips and tricks will prove your skills to the schools you work in and slowly build up a solid reputation for you and your work ethic. Register with Simply Education today and find the best supply teaching jobs available to you at all times.