I felt that the best way for me to answer this question was to put it to an actual supply teacher who can share with you the reasons why they work on supply, and as to what to expect. Cathra, a Primary Teacher from Carlisle who has registered with us this year and has worked on supply in local schools, has kindly agreed to help me out with this one. Cathra was happy to answer some questions about supply (that we are asked regularly) to help you make a decision as to whether supply teaching is for you!
What do you like about being a Supply Teacher?
The key word for me is ‘flexibility’. You can choose when you wish to be available for work based on your own circumstances and commitments. Personally, I have worked in the same school for 17 years and whilst this has given me a lot of experience I feel that I am privileged now to be experiencing new environments, with different resources, different sized classes and different opportunities.
What was your first day like?
I prepared myself based on my expectations, but did feel quite anxious awaiting the first telephone call and confirmation that somebody wanted me. I knew that I had the experience to deliver once in front of the children, but being able to put my skills to use depended on the agency, something that I wasn’t used to. Luckily the agency staff were great. They kept me informed and rang very early on the first morning. Suddenly I was putting my bag of resources in my car and driving off to my first day in a different school doing supply teaching. The reception at the school was great. The staff were really happy to have someone else helping out and the children were curious and wanting to impress.
What are the challenges when working on supply?
It can feel a little strange, waiting for your telephone to ring in the morning, not knowing if you are going in to work somewhere. Although, in my experience, I have found that if you do a good job schools tend to ask for you next time and you may well get a few days’ notice. Most of the time when you go into the class you are provided with planning, but usually only when you get there. So it is important to get yourself organised quickly upon arrival. In case you are not given any planning, you need to have lessons already planned and resources with you for subjects and year groups that you have agreed to teach.
Would you recommend supply to other teachers?
Absolutely. It always depends on your personal circumstances and what you want to do, but my experience has been very positive. Basically I have got back my love of the job.
What would you recommend supply teachers do to prepare?
You need to have a bag ready packed which includes lesson plans, resources and any stationary for your personal use. You will also need to keep your own records of work done and future dates agreed. Prior to setting off to a new school ensure you know where you are going and allow plenty of time.
Any classroom management tips for when you are new to a class?
Introduce yourself to staff and children. Find out about the class and any individual children’s needs. Ensure that you fully aware of fire and safety rules. Treat the day as if you were running your own class and set the standards and expectations accordingly. Remember to use the TA fully as they aware of what normally happens and respect the class teachers planning.
Any other thoughts or comments you think would be valuable to other teachers?
Ensure that you are punctual to each school and remember to mark all work and leave the classroom tidy. Full handover notes are required to ensure a smooth transition between staff. Remember, it is a privilege to visit other schools and expand your own experiences and knowledge.
I would like to say a huge thank you to Cathra for her help and time in sharing her thoughts about Teaching Supply for this blog post.
If you are considering working on supply as a Teacher or TA then why not drop us a call on 01228 530554 for an informal chat.
Lyndsey Sisson, Commercial Manager, System People Education