What to take on a day of supply? There are a few things some teachers take along which we think are pretty clever.
There are some essentials which you’ll need to bring. A form of identification, A DBS and other things which a school may have asked you to prepare. Below we list some of the more unusual items which some of our teachers take with them.
1. A “noise maker”
From buzzer to tambourine, something which is going to cut through conversation and save your voice is useful. It’s worth thinking of something both portable and unusual. A bell or whistle are also used by some of our teachers.
2. A USB with engaging and snappy activities
Useful for “filler activities” or the last 10 minutes of a lesson, a set of slides with paper-free activities can prove to be a life-savers for our teachers. Activities which could be used in different key stages and for different classes are sure be used time and again.
3. Coloured pens
Not for the students, for you! Marking policies in schools are often colourful. Marking in red isn’t a thing of the past, but it’s not surprising for pink, turquoise, purple or green to be used instead. Having the right pen colour isn’t essential, but it does mark continuity for pupils and shows a well prepared supply teacher.
4. Teabags, coffee, a mug and even milk
Lots of our schools cater wonderfully for supply teachers. Some don’t. A travel mug and your preferred hot beverage is a good idea. Going as far as milk (powdered or UHT) might seem extreme, but not all schools will have enough throughout the day.
5. A timer
Kitchen timers are inexpensive, portable and lightweight. You can set them to run for a lesson, to a keep an eye on your pace and for when break might be. Or, set them for an activity to help keep kids on task.
6. A supply stamp
A couple of our teachers use these. They’re excellent as either a reward (consider putting your own surname on it) or in books if you’re marking. It looks fantastic to permanent staff and students when any marking by a supply teacher can be quickly identified.
7. Something to throw
Basically anything soft. A small soft object to throw around a classroom is a fantastic way to cold call and keep kids engaged. You could work into activities too, such as those that you have on your USB.
Rewarding students is just as important in a temporary position as it is in a permanent one. Economy can guide what to use as a reward. Some of our teachers use stickers, but these cost a fair amount (if you do go for stickers, big packets of gold stars can be cheap). A stamp works well, as does simply writing student names with unusual coloured board pen.
9. Name stickers
Not an essential, and better with Primary where you’re likely to be the with the same class all day. They’re a nice icebreaker in the morning and remain useful for the whole day. Big packs cost little.
10. Your own business card
This is quite a nice touch. We’ve written about the importance of leaving a note, but if you’ve a calling card, it can be an awesome thing to leave with a school and certainly ups the likelihood of you being asked back.
Not sure how this would go down with Secondary, but a teacher of ours uses stories to great effect with Primary students. Having collected them over the years, this teacher prioritise stories with a moral message. These don't just make a good stopgap in class, but can be used for a whole string of activities over a the course of a day.
These are just some of the ideas which we’ve heard from our teachers. We’d love to hear more so we can add to this article! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any ideas that you might have.