Almost all teachers will have done some supply teaching at some point in their careers. Whether it’s in the early stages to gain experience in a classroom setting or simply covering another teacher’s lesson. When you decide to start a career in teaching you’ll need to consider whether you want to make supply teaching your full-time job.
There are several benefits to supply teaching, like the flexibility it offers if you need to fit work around other responsibilities. Supply teachers are also thought to have access to a better salary in some cases. They often won’t be required to put in as many extra hours as full-time teachers with marking work and lesson prep.
That said, preparation is a key skill for supply teachers to possess. Carrying out a lesson at last minute notice means you must always be ready to pick up where a teacher left off, and control a class of children who are acutely aware that their usual teacher isn’t watching!
Supply Teaching Survival HacksLearn student’s names
If you’ve been left with a seating plan, you’re in luck, but this doesn’t always happen, or perhaps students don’t have an assigned seat. Reprimanding a child without knowing their name can lose its impact and you’re more likely to hold a student’s attention when you call them by name. If children are working on paper get them to write their names at the top so you can see them when you move around the classroom.
Going one further than having childrens’ names written on their exercise books, Springboard Supplies offer Personalised Exercise Books that can be printed with a school’s name and crest.
Springboard Supplies Personalised Exercise BooksLeave an update for the regular teacher
You’ll be of immense help and likely a return visit if you assist the regular teacher in picking their class back up by leaving them an update. This could be sent via email but writing or printing one out to leave on their desk is a convenience for any teacher starting the day after being away from work. Be sure to highlight students that should be praised or any that required more discipline.Get students on your side
Controlling a class of children who you don’t know can be difficult, with many students thinking they can get away with behaviour they normally wouldn’t. Be clear about communication with the regular teacher so students know any troublemaking won’t go unheard of. It’s also important to make friends with the students as if they like you they will be happier to work with you. Make sure you bring a little fun into each lesson and remember to reward good students. Keeping a stamp on you like our Smiley Face Stamp is an environmentally friendly alternative to reward stickers.
Springboard Supplies Smiley Face Stamp
Bring back up plans
It’s not uncommon for the stakes to change at the last minute when you’re a supply teacher. You’ll want to impress your agency with your preparedness to secure return visits. When you get a call at 7am to cover a class immediately, or when you arrive to find out you’re covering year 1, not year 4, it helps to be prepared. This not only means getting into the mindset of expecting the unexpected but having a few activities and games for each situation means when it happens to you you’ll have time to catch your breath.
Depending on age group it can be handy to keep a few games in your car, or bring them with you to keep children busy if you need to catch up on a lesson plan or activity. Try our Sentence Building Dominoes as a portable educational game.
We don’t mean teaching resources here, rather it’s important to orientate yourself when you arrive at a new school and know who, and how, to ask for help. Be sure you’re aware of the fire exits, where the infirmary is, and that you’ve introduced yourself to other teachers nearby the classroom. If you need help throughout the day don’t be afraid to ask, regular staff at the school should be happy to help you.
Resources for Supply TeachersSupply Bag: Emergency Lesson Plans
Supply Bag is a website dedicated to supporting Supply Teachers, including advice for getting your career off the ground and a forum for Supply Teachers to discuss ideas and experiences. The emergency lesson plans on Supply Bag are organised by year and topic.
These lesson plans are developed with supply teaching at their forefront meaning they’re written in simple step by step instructions that can be followed with little or no preparation. Almost all lesson plans require no other resources meaning you don’t need any props or even access to a printer.Classroom Secrets
Classroom Secrets is a popular choice with supply teachers, broken down into Early Years, KS1, KS2, then by subject and even topic. Through Classroom Secrets, Supply Teachers can draw up whole lessons, or select individual activities to fill in time and help them structure the class.
Classroom Secrets also gives members access to reading topics and SAT practice questions, as well as longer lesson plans, useful for when covering a long leave of absence.Primary Resources
Primary Resources is a great source of free activities, games, lesson plans, presentations, and more for supply teachers. Choose from a long list of subjects sure to cover absolutely everything that children in primary school might be learning about, including DT, music, and arts and craft activities.
Keeping some craft supplies handy is a good idea if you want to hold an impromptu art activity. Our Jumbo Pipe Cleaners Bumper Class Pack is can be used in virtually any crafting activity.
Springboard Supplies Jumbo Pipe Cleaners Bumper Class Pack
Primary Resources also includes SEN teaching resources, assembly ideas, and a section where you can search by theme or topic.TES Teaching Resources
TES is a first stop for assistant teachers and supply staff, being known as one of the largest libraries of recourse material for teaching any subject from early years up to secondary school, including students with SEN. Browse over 640,000 resources here, accessible through a free membership.
Here, supply teachers can access all kinds of activities, worksheets, quizzes, games, and full lesson plans. Many resources on the website have been reviewed and rated by real teachers, giving you an indication of the efficacy of using them and which students they might be suitable for.Teach Starter: Supply Teaching Plans
For supply teachers who need a full day’s cover at no notice, Teach Supply has a fantastic selection 42 of lesson plans. Lesson plans are split by year group, so when you know which year you’ll be teaching all you need to do is grab a relevant plan and get to work.
Each lesson plan is organised into morning, middle and end of day tasks, with resources that can be printed to go alongside activities.
Running out of the door first thing in the morning to cover a class when you had a lie-in planned can be chaotic. But as long as you’re prepared in advance for the unexpected you’ll save yourself a lot of stress. Smoothly adapting to last-minute changes or difficult classrooms means you’re likely to make a great impression on a school that needs support last minute, leading to more calls from your agency in the future.