How to become a supply teacher

Becoming a supply teacher is a great way to take more control over your career. With extra flexibility and a wider variety of teaching settings, it’s an option both experienced and newly qualified teachers are choosing. Here are some tips on both beginning and improving your supply teaching career.


Finding an agency: Choosing the right teaching agency for you

1. Recommendations are probably the best place to start. Many teaching agencies will promise you the world but receiving a recommendation from an experienced supply teacher is a good way of ascertaining the best agency to work for.

2. Ask the agency what schools they work with regularly. This will enable you to see whether the teaching agency is suitable for your requirements.

3. Be wary of choosing a teaching agency on its size. You will probably be kept busier by an agency with not enough teachers then one with too many.

4. Don’t necessarily go with the agency that offers you the most money. A supply teacher's pay will directly affect the amount charged to schools. More and more schools are choosing to pay less for supply teachers and using cover supervisors where possible to keep costs down. In short you may find the agencies paying the most will not necessarily be able to secure the most work. At ABC Teachers, we believe we have carefully managed professional rates of pay and competitive charge rates giving you the best of both worlds.


Preparing for your day

5. If you are given a booking in advance try to get to the school in plenty time. Schools will panic if you are running late and it does not create a good first impression. Equally, as a supply teacher you will benefit from having enough time to settle yourself, ask any questions in regards to your day and familiarise yourself with the discipline procedure before facing your first class. 8:15 is the optimum time to arrive at an assignment, although for last minute booking this won’t always be possible

6. Try to have a few tricks and ideas up your sleeve in order to keep the class occupied should there be no work set. This will give you valuable time to find out what the class should really be doing whilst retaining their concentration.

7. Your appearance matters. Dress professionally for supply teaching work. This will encourage respect from pupils and help make a good first impression with the school.

8. Plan your route to the school in advance. If you are going to be late contact your teaching agency so that they can inform the school.

9. Keep items you will need each day ready in advance. This means when you are given last minute assignments you are able to leave quickly and get to the school earlier. Things you have ready should include:  

  • Clean and ironed clothes  
  • Your recent DBS Disclosure and some photographic ID (passport or driving licence)  
  • Pens and pencils should your pupils have forgotten theirs  
  • Some backup schemes of work (as mentioned above)  
  • A Sat Nav or A to Z  
  • Consider taking a bag with sports kit in case you are asked to cover PE


Maximising your work

10. If you have not received a booking prior to the morning, call your teaching agency first thing and inform them you are up, ready and available for work. In the morning your consultant will contact people they know can get to the school with minimum fuss.

11. If you go to a school you like, let the school know you are available for other assignments. You may find that you are requested by name in the future.

12. Be flexible. The more flexible you are the more opportunities you are likely to receive.

13. While you should never use your mobile phone in class or in front of you pupils, do check your phone during breaks for texts and voicemails from your teaching agency, which may have details of further assignments.

14. Be speedy in the morning. If you can be seen as a person who can leave and get to schools with minimal fuss, the agency will automatically see you as an obvious choice for bookings.


Classroom management strategies

15. One of the main issues with supply teachers is a lack of enthusiasm for the role. Stay enthusiastic for the position, keep working and never give up on the class and let it rule you. Utilise dos and don’ts below and things will become easier.

16. Avoid shouting if possible. It can give the impression that you have lost control making it difficult to regain it.

17. At the start of lesson set clear expectations of the class.

18. Do not be afraid to accept support. Even the best teachers will have days when support can help

19. Take the time to get to know the names of the pupils in the class

20. If you are at the school for a longer period, devise a seating plan to stop disruptive groups forming

21. Know the names of each individual head of year, and then use them when addressing behaviour issues

22. Use positive praise of good behaviour to avoid allowing negative behaviour to gain all the attention

23. Do not highlight you are in the school on a short-term basis. This gives pupils the impression that they do not need to be concerned about you in the long-term

24. By following the regular pattern of discipline pupils know where they stand, so try to know the school behaviour management system.


To register with ABC Teachers call 08453 700 244 today

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