upply teaching can be a great job. I did it for two years in both secondary and primary school and I enjoyed (almost) every minute. The freedom is fantastic. No planning lessons, parents' evening, school meetings, phone calls home etc, the holidays are completely yours unlike full time teachers and if you do need a day off for any reason, you don't need to ask permission, you just tell your agencies you are busy (although this does mean you don't get paid).
The pay for a supply teacher isn't as good as a full time teacher, as doing day to day supply won't get you work every day, but this was certainly worth it for me due to the lower stress levels and more enjoyment of my job. Here I have put together so helpful tips for supply teachers or anybody considering becoming one.
Always keep any agencies you work for up-to-date with your availability. You will never get any work if your agencies think you’re not available. Likewise if you regularly get phone calls from agencies thinking you’re free when you’re not, you will start to look unreliable. The more reliable your availability information, the more likely you are to stay top of agencies’ lists.
Always make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to a school, especially if it is one you have never been to before. It’s all too easy to get stuck in traffic or get lost and turn up stressed and late. It doesn’t look good as far as the school is concerned and a rushed morning will make you less effective too. Try to arrive by 8:15 for an 8:40 start, especially to a new school. This will give you time to find the classrooms, staffroom, toilets etc. and familiarize yourself with any paperwork you have been given.
Behaviour management can be an extremely difficult task for a supply teacher. The pupils know that you are temporary, that you are probably a bit unsure of the school rules and procedures and won’t be around for long enough to follow many of them through. Hence, pupils will often act up for a supply teacher. This will be many times worse if you lack confidence, so walk into the classroom with purpose, introduce yourself confidently and act like you already own the place. It makes such a difference.
Have some spare lessons in your head ready just in case work hasn’t been set. This can be difficult if you are secondary and covering different subjects, but I have some maths lessons and primary literacy/numeracy lessons up my sleeve just in case. I’ve had to use them many times as well.
Not so important in secondary school, but if you are covering in a primary school this is a must. Do not expect to be asked back if you have left the work unmarked. Make sure you know what colour you should be marking in and what kind of comments you should be leaving. I always try to do half an hour of marking at lunchtime, then I can go home half an hour earlier.
Not an in-school item like the other five, but if you intend to make a living out of supply teaching, keeping fit is an extremely helpful thing to do. Supply teaching is a tiring job, but added to that is the fact you may be visiting five different schools in a week (maybe more if you do half days), meaning five different sets of children and five different sets of germs. It is too easy to catch a cold/flu, need a couple of days off work, hence lose two days’ pay. Keeping fit helps to keep your immune system strong, fighting off those bugs.
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