Being a Supply Teacher: Everything You Need to Know
Being a good supply teacher means being able to take on a
lot of different challenges while still retaining a consistent working life.
Most supply teachers can expect to receive work at very short notice, or might
have to put up with long delays between individual jobs. Supply teachers are
also subject to abuse within different classrooms, and have to be able to deal
with difficult classrooms and students. Psychological strength and confidence
is therefore crucial to being a good supply teacher, as is the ability to put
things into perspective.
The following tips represent some ways of thinking about
best practices for supply teaching:
1 - Flexibility
Supply teaching is essentially based around being able to
fill in for others, whether due to long term sick leave, or as the result of
emergency needs within a school. A good supply teacher has to be ready to teach
five days a week, and should prepare each morning as if they will be called.
Good supply teachers also need to be able to commute within a reasonable
distance, and to be able to work in a range of different schools. Supply
teachers might also have to take on extra responsibilities at short notice,
although this should never be in unfair proportion to other teachers.
2 - Planning is Everything
Classroom experience is one of the only ways to really
develop a strong sense of what works for your particular needs. In time you
will be able to deal with difficult classrooms, and will know what plans to
fall back on if things go wrong. Having a backup of different lesson plans and
subject specific or general plans will make it much less stressful when a
school or teacher doesn’t provide the right information.
3 - Never Lose Your Temper
Pushing supply teachers into losing their temper is an
unfortunate trait of students, but should be accepted as part of the job.
Losing your temper is never going to help, and it will only make lessons more
difficult. The most important approach to take is to be able to understand when
a lesson has reached the point that it needs extra support from another
Don’t be worried about calling for support, but don’t rely
on it too much to avoid difficult situations. In the same way, try to build up
a set of responses that you know work with particular students. Try to use
their names to identify regular troublemakers, and don’t let yourself become
intimidated. Displaying a sense of humour will also help you to deal with any
jokes or direct abuse, no matter how nasty it might seem.
4 - Keep Things in Perspective
While it can be easy to view supply teaching as stressful, it
can also be very rewarding. Good days can make up for a bad school experience,
while making contacts with schools and building a strong reputation within an
area and an agency will help your future prospects of a fulltime position.
Ultimately, the only way you can know if a supply teaching job is right for you
is to get experience in the classroom. It’s not for everyone, but can be
financially rewarding and challenging for the right person.
About the Author
CJ is a mildly exasperated mother who
gets wound up by most things school related, it's already December and she's
already thinking about extra
revision courses next year! Done with Supply Teacher? Go back to Guest Posts
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Written by Bryan Cohen
Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.
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