Supply teachers very rarely get the credit that they deserve. They walk into different schools every day and are quickly expected to build a rapport and deliver first-rate teaching at the drop of a hat. Often, they will have to pick up lesson plans and teach as they go, and sometimes they won’t have a lesson plan at all, and simply have to design activities on the spot. It’s not an easy job, but here are a few teaching hacks to help you become an effective supply teacher.
1. Be firm but fair
Behaviour can often be tricky in these situations, with students who will try to outsmart your knowledge of the school’s behaviour policy. It’s important to establish boundaries early on in the lesson, but be careful not to be too strict; students who like and respect you are more likely to comply with your instructions.
2. Find subtle ways to learn names
Sometimes you’ll be left with a seating plan, sometimes students will move around and sometimes there just won’t be a seating plan full stop. In this case, it’s paramount that you try to pick up students’ names. There’s nothing more embarrassing than trying to reprimand a child without knowing their name! An easy way to do this is to simply ask them if you can flick through their book and glance at their name. If they’re using paper, ask them to each write their name at the top.
3. Create your own seating plan
Using the method above, you could then draft your own seating plan. If you’d prefer for students to have a fresh start, you could devise your own using the register. That way you can praise and warn pupils easily without diverting attention from the whole class. Watching how a class behaves lined up outside the classroom is also a good way to see the likely troublemakers before everyone gets sat down.
4. Mark books as you circulate
Not only does this show you are an effective teacher, it is also incredibly helpful for their usual teacher. As you circulate and read pupils’ work, tick and offer brief formative feedback. If you can, try to ascertain the normal colour work is marked in so you can ensure consistency.
5. Leave notes for the teacher
Finally, before you leave the lesson, leave a brief note to the teacher about the work that was completed and any students worthy of praise or further sanctions. This will make their future planning much easier and inform them of how well pupils behaved in their absence.