A new calendar year can mark high staff absence. With more cover in, Airsupply ask what a school can do to support cover teachers.
To a supply teacher, it's one thing to communicate school expectations for students, but another school expectations for teachers. When you can, engage with supply teachers before they arrive at the school gate. What information on classes and lessons can you send them? For short-notice absence this isn’t going to be possible, but for longer term roles a lesson plan or scheme of learning allows a supply teacher to be at their best: to be well prepared.
Have an orientation pack
They’ll be a short period in which a cover teacher waits at reception. Use this as orientation time. A small pack outlining school policies, key members of staff (with photos) and the timings of the school are very useful for any supply teacher. It’s not just practical, it also helps the teacher feel welcomed and supported from the get go.
Deliver the data
It’s useful for teachers to have a grasp of the class they will be teaching before the school day kicks off. Particularly in Primary schools, a data sheet can give teachers the information they may need before classes commence. If a cover teacher will be taking a wide range of classes, collating the required information is more tricky. See if you can give them tempoary access to a management information system, like SIMS.
Give a tour
A tour can seem unimportant. But students can sense a teacher’s understanding of the school environment. Even if it’s simply pointing out the key departments and facilities in the school, a quick tour can help teachers feel comfortable, and the students too.
It’s not always possible to know in advance when cover teachers will be in. If you know that there will be staff out on particular days, telling staff in weekly meetings or via email is valuable. Giving staff a heads-up to be welcoming, warm and friendly to any cover teachers can postively enhance their experience.
Supply Teachers are as qualified (sometimes more so) as full time staff. Treat them with the respect you would any other colleague. Not only is a happy cover teacher a better cover teacher, but a happy cover teacher will reflect your school’s reputation. Supply teachers very often come from the local community. You want them to leave with positive accounts of your school, and the kindness and support they receive over the course of the day, will shape their view.