back to blogs

6 Weapons Against No Lesson Plans When Supply Teaching

About 28 days ago By Miranda

Miranda sweeps in and saves the day to remind us of 6 weapons that will help you on those supply teaching days when no lesson plans are left or can't be found!

Top resources are a sturdy weapon against the blank page, the unusable whiteboard, the missing laptop and the shrugged shoulder. All possibilities when you walk into that empty classroom, possibly at five to nine on a rainy (Argh…wet playtime.) mid-week morning. So here’s my list of my top six emergency resources, for use at last minute, a short notice and in the case of technical failure.

1. Mopping up and finishing off - by Friday or even Thursday afternoon, there’s plenty of mopping up to do, so your best resource is to talk to the teaching assistant about work that needs finishing. This is a great way to make friends, as it can be stressful for a TA whose line manager has been off ill all week; and who has seen a series of supply teachers come and go with one off lessons, accumulating on bits of paper.

2. Knowing your curriculum - I really don’t regret that I spent an entire hungover Sunday last Summer hols, reading the new primary curriculum from cover to cover – albeit in bed with coffee on one side and my little boy glued to Cbeebies on the other. My copy of the primary curriculum’s (do I sound like a swot?) expectations for Maths and Literacy comes with me on supply. I have simple games, such as ‘round the world’ and ‘if this is my answer, what’s my question’ and I apply them to an area of Maths or Literacy of French, which is age and stage appropriate. The children enjoy it almost as much as ‘heads down, thumbs up.’ I also do some grammar games with different year groups. For example, with Year 3, I get an apple out of my lunch and put it on a chair. The children take turns to approach and ‘steal’ the apple in a certain way (stealthily, slyly, confidently etc) while the rest of the class guess the adverb. Up-level your boots with that one!

3.Other staff members - TAs will know where the children are up to; weak areas of their maths and Literacy. The areas of learning that the teacher is particularly hot on. Once you find out what they are, then you will build up a ton of brownie points with school for focussing on raising progress in these areas.

4.A suitcase with curios - At the risk of sounding like an eccentric who drives around with a car full of junk (who moi?), I have an antique looking suitcase with weird things in it from charity shops. A giant tortoise shell (it was dead already folks…)

5.Whiteboard pens - And A3. You can’t always leave a classroom to get paper. Sometimes there is no teaching assistant about and everyone is furious busy. I take my own A3 paper with me just in case. Again, I keep it in my over-cluttered mad person’s office of a car. You can use this for story mountain planning, a ‘brain dump’ before initiating some research into a topic (find out what they are learning about in topic, then choose a small element of it and encourage research. I’ve spent a great hour with Year 2 finding out about clothes during Samuel Pepys time. This prompted lots of discussion about social inequality; how and why fashions might have changed; what his own penchant for clothes tells you about the character of old Pepysie.

6.Verbal comprehension - I love this resource best of all. Basically, I have various stories to fit with topics in Literacy, which I have re-written slightly myself for my purposes. Eg) the myth of Icarus, Arachne and the Spider, Rumpelstiltskin, etc. I read them out – usually with a few props to liven it up. Then I put the children in mixed ability teams (let them choose a team-name) and create a quiz, where questions relate to the text in ways that are appropriate for stage and year group. I will ask Year 4 to explain the moment of greatest tension in the story and offer five points to the team who best express themselves. I ask Year 3 to create a similie to describe Icarus and Daedalus in flight for three points. I might ask Year 5 to justify the reason a character has behaved in a certain way in the story. It’s surprising how willing children are to engage in higher-level thinking if you make it fun, competitive and highly verbal! Be prepared to dock points for making too much noise. You can easily go from here to a curriculum-appropriate focus.

Group 4 Copy 3 Created with Sketch.
Pe Website Blog 21
23 Jul 19, by Ray

Why I chose Protocol

As soon as I gained Qualified Teacher Status I was bombarded with recruitment agency requests for me to sign with...

Read More
Pe Website Blog 03
23 Jul 19, by Jed

10 Tips for a Successful Interview

​10 tips for a successful interviewAnxiety can inevitably set in before an interview. Leigh, a consultant from our Leicester office...

Read More
Pe Website Blog 09
23 Jul 19, by Daniella

Top Travel Destinations for Teachers

​I find that a top travel destination is anywhere that pushes you past your boundaries and allows you to simply...

Read More
Pe Website Blog 18
23 Jul 19, by Bianca

Five Things You Need To Know About Living And Working In A New English City.

​I moved part-time to England last year and have been lucky enough to live and work in a range of...

Read More
Pe Website Blog 20
23 Jul 19, by Amy

Managing Your Workload

​Managing your WorkloadOn average, one in three teachers leave the profession within the first five years. This movement of many...

Read More
Pe Website Blog 23
23 Jul 19, by Adam

My First Day in Special Needs

Your first day anywhere can be nerve racking. Adam shares with us his first day in a Special Education School...

Read More
Pe Website Blog 08
23 Jul 19, by Alysha

Interview Tips

One of the Protocol team asked me if I had any thoughts on interview tips for securing a long-term position,...

Read More
Pe Website Blog Graff 1155x575 01
23 Jul 19, by Paul

How to Avoid Teacher Burnout

​The possibilities in teaching are endless. Learning never ends. But unfortunately the school day ends, as does the actual day...

Read More
Pe Website Blog 12
23 Jul 19, by Jessica

Juggling Work and Play for Teachers

​Juggling Work and Play in a Long-Term PositionBeing in a long-term position certainly has its perks. You know where you’re...

Read More
Pe Website Blog 01
22 Jul 19, by Zuzana Vrtalova

5 Ways to be an effective TA

​I don’t know how to narrow this down to just five as I think the list could be endless. But...

Read More
Pe Website Blog 07
22 Jul 19, by Alison Brady

The Transition from Secondary to Primary

​Despite being a trained secondary school teacher, through working with Protocol, I am grateful to have been able to expand...

Read More
Pe Website Blog 05
22 Jul 19, by Emma Tweney

5 Daily Survival Tips for TA's

​Emma gives us her top five tips to make your day in daily supply run as smoothly as possibleLet’s face...

Read More
Pe Website Blog 17
22 Jul 19, by Bianca

The Best Stress Free Day Trips in the UK

Have you finished your planning for next year? Desperate to take your mind off the ongoing pressures of being a...

Read More
Pe Website Blog 08
22 Jul 19, by Amy

Developing a Positive Relationship with Teaching Assistants

​Teaching assistants can be an absolutely blessing n your classroom. However, they can also be a burden if there is...

Read More
Pe Website Blog 15
22 Jul 19, by Zuzana Vrtalova

ADHD 10 tips for Classroom Management

​We are half way through the ADHD Awareness month and this useful entry belongs to Emma, our long-term supply teacher....

Read More