Getting repeat bookings

I’d like to think the pupils in schools I work in not only benefit from my lessons but enjoy them too. How can I make sure I make the same good impression on staff and schools rebook me for future supply work?

Securing supply work can often depend on call backs from schools in which you have made a positive impression. Doing a fantastic job in the classroom is of course important but putting effort in, outside of the class and being seen to go the extra mile will help secure future placements. Here are a few ideas:

·         Smile and be positive! Teachers based in a school on a day-to-day basis can get consumed by school issues and a Supply Teacher can often be seen as a breath of fresh air.
·         Make sure you research your journey to school and arrive in plenty of time. Reliable, organised teachers are top of consultants’ lists.
·         Make yourself a seating plan; ensure your pupils sit in the same place and you’ll soon learn their names and remember their traits.
·         Always have a back-up lesson plan!
·         Volunteer for playground duty or offer up your time if you have a free period. Helpful, pro-active teachers willing to get involved in school life are valuable assets to schools.
·         If you’re covering for a teacher on a short-term basis, perhaps just a day or two, leave a note for them at the end of your assignment detailing the work done, where you got up to in set work, any incidents and whether books were marked. If you’ve covering in a secondary school, just a line or two about each class will help the teacher settle back in and will be appreciated.
·         Treat everyday as an interview.

Make sure you say goodbye and thank the people who have looked after you throughout the day. If your day’s been a success, tell them - schools enjoy getting positive feedback. Make sure you tell them you’d love to come back.


Successful behaviour management on supply

I’ve just signed up as a supply teacher and I’m excited about the prospect of working in different schools. Until now, I’ve taught the same class day-in, day-out which meant I got to know and understand the pupils well and build relationships with them. What’s the best way to approach new classes of unfamiliar faces and manage behaviour successfully?

Supply Teachers often worry about how they’re going to manage behaviour in class. Going into a school you don’t know can be nerve-wracking so as well as having well-prepared lesson plans, think about the following:  

  • Before you start work, ask for a copy of the school’s Behaviour Management Policy. By reading through this document, you’ll have a better understanding of what is expected of the pupils and how behaviour is dealt with. In turn, you can ensure your actions are in line with it, retaining a sense of consistency and letting the pupils know you know what they should and shouldn’t be doing. Start your day by referring to one of the rewards schemes, rather than a sanction.  Remember: a supply teacher is the ‘acid test’ for the effectiveness of the school’s Behaviour Policy.
  • When pupils meet a supply teacher for the first time, they often see it as an opportunity to act up. Before reprimanding them, put yourself in the pupils’ shoes. They may be worried or nervous about working with a new teacher and perhaps even feel vulnerable. Others may be thinking ‘Why should I care if a total stranger is unhappy with me?’ Be upfront and address these issues immediately. Start your day by pointing out the behaviour you're looking for and make sure they recognise that you’re approachable. Setting your expectations and demonstrating you respond to positive behaviour will help defuse potential issues from the start.
  • Use pupils' names whenever possible. This shows you want to know them and recognise them as individuals.
  • If you are working at a school for a short period, perhaps a week or even a day, create a tally chart to record the names of the children who behave well. Explain how this chart will be left for their usual teacher and that you’ve heard they’re looking forward to seeing who’s been behaved well and helped out in their absence.
  • Mention key members of staff by name. Being seen to be knowledgeable about the school’s structure can help reinforce appropriate behaviour.
  • Moving around the classroom rather than standing at the front helps maintain good behaviour as the pupils are not only more aware of being watched, they will see it as a sign of you getting to know them and taking an interest in the work they are doing.  
  • Don’t worry about asking for help from other staff members. All teachers appreciate support from colleagues so feel free to ask for top tips about dealing with your new class. Thank them and they’ll appreciate that you value their advice. If you’re covering for a permanent teacher, ask the Headteacher if there’s anything they normally do that is successful in helping them manage their class. 

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