Airsupply reveal six straightforward strategies to ensure a smooth supply day.
1) Patterns in policy.
Each school will have its own behavioral policy. It is very difficult to master a school behavior policy on the day. Many policies, especially those from larger schools, will be very complicated ones. However there are often common themes which experienced supply teachers will learn. These themes hinge around reward, sanction and escalation. It can be worth focusing on these three details. Ask yourself: how do I reward students, how do I sanction students and finally, how do I escalate the situation.
2) How to call, who to call.
All teachers know that support from permanent members of staff may be necessary. Knowing who to call is the first thing. There will be staff members to oversee cover and behaviour. See this is a bonus. Priority is knowing how to call. In many schools it may be as straightforward as sending a pupil to the classroom nextdoor. Others may have emails that need to be sent, buttons to pressed or numbers to be called. Knowing how to get support when you need it will be more valuable than knowing who to call.
3) Strong starts.
Teachers know that the first 5 minutes of the lesson are essential. What information do you need immediately - seating plan, name list, board pen. Then, what information do your students need immediately - books, equipment etc. Next, where are you standing in the classroom. Finally, be crystal clear on your first activity to ensure a good start. Through this behaviour your expectations will be evident. You may do this already, but even the most experienced teachers can let this slip on a busy day.
4) Plan B.
We’ve all had experience where cover work is prepared and well-presented. And we’ve had the opposite. Having a Plan B is essential. What your plan B looks like varies - there can’t be just one. Going into school you need a clear idea of what kind activities and learning would be appropriate for the class you’re going to teach. At times you might not know which year group, so then think Key Stage. What bank of activities have you got at your disposal for a year KS4 English class? How would this be different to what you would do with a KS2 class?
5) Pick your battles.
In some instances you may be given lots of information about a class prior to teaching them. Even when this is the case, this information can often go out of the window. Considering the difficulty in gauging pupil ability or participation quickly, it is worth waiting before escalating a situation. This seems like basic point, but it ties into how to utilise the behaviour policy and how you start the lesson.
6) Leave a learning legacy
Can you leave a note? A post-it note or email at the end of a lesson can make a world of difference. It celebrates student success, while alerting whoever is next seeing the class of any difficulties. Importantly, can you make it about the learning? Don’t just leave a note of naughty and nice pupils. If you were teaching a specific topic, what went well, what less well. Schools and teachers appreciate this. You may be more likely to be asked back.
The HUGE majority of teachers have a fantastic time in their schools. If behavior does prove tricky, please let us know. There is masses that we can do to support, from 1-2-1 coaching, CPD sessions, and school meetings (for longer term roles). We’ll always reply - firstname.lastname@example.org