We surveyed some of our experienced supply teachers to find out the key things they wish they had known when they started out
Supply teaching is a challenging and rewarding way to teach. It gives you flexibility and variety that you can't get in a permanent post. It's also a great way to 'test out' a school you're interested in working in, as many permanent posts are offered to school's favourite supply staff.
In term time, bookings will come in thick and fast, so make sure you are prepared to head out the door from 7am, otherwise you run the risk of turning up flustered, which is never a good way to start your morning!
Pick up the phone
Keep in regular contact with your agency, and let them know if your circumstances have changed, and be honest about what you want, and your availability. Your agency will understand, and the better they know your situation, the better they can adapt your bookings.
One of the great things about supply is the variety. You can try new subjects, new age groups and new environments. It's great experience, and you might find a new phase of education that you love even more than the area you originally trained in!
Grow a thick skin
While there are many great schools you'll love working in, unfortunately there will always be a few that mess you around, or don't make you feel valued. The best advice we can give is to try not to let it get you down, as even the best supply teachers out there struggle at times. Try to find some fellow supply teachers to give you someone to offload on, and give you encouragement when you need it.
Make sure you have the name of who you are meeting on arriving at the school, and make sure you get on your TA's good side, as their help will invaluable. It also helps to be on good terms with the receptionist/school administrator as they often organise repeat bookings.
Figure out your pupils
This skill will be fine tuned with experience, but it's very useful to be able to identify potential troublemakers, or pupils who may need extra support early on so you can prepare.
Hopefully you'll find some great planning left ... but if it isn't make sure you have a few fun activities to hand that you can use to keep the class occupied.
For an inexperienced supply teacher, behaviour management can be a challenge, but the key is to know the school's policies, and enact these consistently.
Leave some notes for the usual teacher covering each class. It is also a good idea to leave your name and agency details on there if you'd like to be invited back. Before you leave a booking, drop in and speak to the supply manager or receptionist to make sure your hours are done and last but not least, make sure you do your timesheets!