Supply teachers can occasionally be in the line of fire from low-level classroom disruption. Reminding ourselves of tried and true strategies before we walk back into the classroom can be a great boost to confidence. It’s also worth remembering that schools good classroom behaviour management is the first skill schools look for in supply teachers, so it’s certainly a skill worth honing.
Supply teacher behaviour management is one of those areas which can make a ‘hugely’ positive difference to the day-to-day experience. Reminding ourselves of how to approach low-level disruption means carrying out supply teacher duties with poise.
We’ve brought together the most essential teacher behaviour management tips from the classroom to make life in school a hugely positive experience for both teaching staff and students.
So, let’s get into this! Here are our seven top supply teacher tips to help manage behaviour in class. Enjoy!
Schools may vary here, so understanding the policy beforehand is key. Hopefully, the students themselves also have a solid understanding of the policy. The behaviour policy can be best used to include rewards for positive behaviours. Using the school policy will feel familiar to the class and can act as a primary component for managing classroom behaviour.
Of course, citing the policy from a punitive standpoint is a situation of last resort, you may never need it, but it’s still good to know!
Today's lesson planning and classroom activities often revolve around IT-based resources accessed via school systems. As supply teachers, we sometimes are not as familiar with the systems as we’d like, so setting an ‘initial’ activity around a downloaded sheet, or handout can take the pressure off. IT systems can then be made ready while the class is occupied and busy with the handout. In any event, be ready for an IT-related interruption at any time. Keeping the class occupied with offline activity whilst you attend to your IT, will maintain an orderly classroom environment.
Airsupply is supported by Twinkl, a leading source of classroom resources based on year group and topic. The Twinkl website is a great place to find downloadable resources if you don’t have time to prep your own.
You can also find lots of helpful support and topical conversation on the Airsupply teaching community group.
Firstly, don’t ignore disruptive behaviour. It is only likely to become worse as your boundaries are further tested. Be firm early on, you can certainly relax a little later.
Respond by adopting your best face of indifference and keeping calm.
The tried and true verbal approach is simply to remind the disrupter that it's a classroom setting and that the student is here to learn. It’s also good to remind the student that disruption in class is something you will not tolerate.
In the unlikely event of needing a further reminder - Interjecting with “I’m waiting” to provide time for the disrupter to focus if necessary can work wonders.
Finally, keep the student on track. Reminding the student of the task at hand, and then having an air of expectancy that they will get on with their task (with confidence) is key. This will redirect the student's attention away from you and their peers toward their activity.
Should the student, or a small group of students persist, then a reprimand might be considered. The student has after all had a fair warning after the first incident. However, take a moment to be sure the situation requires such action. Take a moment to check that the situation is the way you see it. In the event of a reprimand, a private discussion with the student is likely to result in a better outcome and provides time for reflection.
Reprimands should be in line with the school behaviour policy. Some schools have a points system for example.
As with most initial interactions we only get one chance to make a great first impression.
Prevention is better than having to find a cure. So with this in mind, arriving at class organised, with your passwords and systems access already in hand is essential. We should walk into class confidently and hold the stage.
Introducing ourselves and explaining why you are there can help to set the scene.
Choose a student (perhaps the one most distracted as the classroom settles down) to explain the classroom reward system, both for your benefit and to remind the class as a whole. Of course, others in the class are free to add to the discussion. Having a few minutes of discussion around behaviour can ensure it's top of mind for everyone.
Your classroom may have support from experienced learning assistance staff. Don’t forget to make the time to check in with your supporting staff as soon as possible. This will ensure you are aware of students in class receiving support from these staff members. The students are also likely to be aware of fellow students requiring a little more leeway. Your support team will intervene, so you can continue delivering the curriculum.
Occasionally, a group dynamic of friends can unite and start to build into escalating disruptive behaviour. Here, it’s important to intervene immediately.
If a first or second attempt at controlling a low-level disrupter, especially someone egging a group on hasn’t improved the situation, then a useful strategy here is to point out the obvious to the group generally.
A great strategy is to remind the group with a timely reminder:
“I’m sure you all enjoy your break time together. Having to keep some or all of you back at the end of class to discuss behaviour is going to spoil everyone's fun”.
Following this up with a general reminder as to why they are in class and then a redirection back towards the work in hand is likely to settle the situation.
Remember, supply teacher behaviour management is much to do with being prepared and walking in confidently. Prevention is key, so, be as prepared as you can be. Aim to get off to a great start, at least within the first 5 to 10 minutes.
Generally, it’s considered best to be firm in the beginning, nipping disruption in the bud quickly. Relaxing things a little later will most likely be fine.
Remember to adopt and use the school reward system. Understand and deploy the school behaviour policy to your advantage. Using a behaviour management approach the class is familiar with can be helpful.
As a general approach, reminding disruptors they are in class to learn, and that you won’t tolerate disruption, is a surefire first step. Quickly redirecting the disrupter back toward the task at hand can work wonders.
Working in school brings many rewards and experiences, and it’s worth remembering these experiences are almost entirely positive. It’s also good to remember that disruptive behaviour in class is usually low-level, so usually, a timely response is all that is necessary.
If you are considering a return to the classroom and would like to know more about teaching or supply teaching positions available in your area of expertise, then please don’t hesitate to make contact, or register with us to see the latest vacancies. Airsupply is committed to supplying jobs that are fair, flexible and better paid.
You can find out more about vacancies by registering your interest with us.
Airsupply teachers typically earn £30 per day more, doing work they choose.