Accessibility Links

Active Plenary for Supply Teachers


Are you starting a supply position this September? Paul offers some ideas on keeping students on the learning track and being prepared for everything.

Supply? It’s just babysitting isn't it? Students are not really learning anything. Right?

Spending sometimes only a matter of minutes with a class you might never see again can feel like you’re only there to pass the time, but of course you’re not. And wouldn’t it be good to debunk a few of those supply teacher myths by showing some amazing evidence of learning before you leave.

Here are some ideas on how to show students, staff and even yourself; that learning did actually happen and here is some evidence to prove it. Oh, and have a bit of fun too.

This week try:


Lines of agreement

Blu Tak a piece of paper marked ‘agree’ on one wall and ‘disagree’ on another. Ask students to position themselves along an imaginary line according to different statements. They can then give explanations verbally or in writing.

‘Romeo is to blame for Juliet’s death’
‘Average is really the same as mode and median’
‘I can remember the names of 10 colours in German’
‘Everyone should be vegetarian’

This can be run as whole class, or in small groups, pairs or individuals.

Learning timeline

Invest in a roll of backing paper from B and Q or something similar that can easily stretch out along a wall or set of tables in a classroom. Make it easy to access and write on. At the start of a session write the learning objective, key questions or topic heading at one end. Ask the students to write down a statement of what they already know about the topic in a red pen.

Half way through the lesson, ask students to add to the timeline using an orange pen anything new they've learned.

Revisit again at the end of the session with green pens with their final learning on the last section of the paper. This should help show progression and give students a chance to walk about (as we all know they like a little wander). They should have written at least three things before they can leave.

Plan starter for next lesson

Not the most active one but a real nice way of making sure the learning today feels part of the curriculum with their usual teacher. Wouldn’t it be great if Miss didn’t have to plan the start of next lesson because it’s already done for her? On a post it note write three questions we could use to test ourselves at the the beginning of next lesson. Stick on the board / door / teachers hand before leaving the room. Leave these on the desk with a note for the absent staff member: ‘Starter ideas are ready for when you get back to work. Get well soon, love, Mr Supply’.

More heads better than one

Set students into small groups.

Take 4 x A3 or A2 sheets (or as many teams as you have) and either put them on tables or stick them on walls around the room. On each sheet write a different question or topic that students have been learning about. Assign one team to one paper. Students write their names along the top or the back.

In their teams students have 2 minutes (or any time limit you decide) to write as much as possible on the set subject / topic / question. There can be a reward for the most answers. This paper can be left on the wall of the room as a glorious legacy of learning for all to enjoy.

Ask the expert

Either as a whole class or in groups assign an expert who is confident to answer any question on the learning of the day. Other students then take turns firing questions at them. You can help students prepare questions first, so they have enough thinking time. If you have permission and resources you can film this and upload to a shared area for the teacher / students to watch during next session.

Add new comment
3 Tips on How to Keep Summer Lessons Fun and Engaging
3 Tips on How to Keep Summer Lessons Fun and Engaging
As a drama teacher Paul has many tips on how to make lessons in the summer term fun and engaging for children while still being high quality lessons that require the chi
Read blog
10 Ways To Promote Positive Mental Health In The Classroom
10 Ways To Promote Positive Mental Health In The Classroom
Mental Health Awareness Week is a positive move towards dealing with the issues around mental health that have been misunderstood, misinterpreted or ignored. Children ar
Read blog
Autism Awareness Week: Raising Money Through Art
Autism Awareness Week: Raising Money Through Art
The Key Stage Two and Three students at NAS’s Thames Valley School have collaborated artistically to create a vibrant installation which displays their favourite b
Read blog

CPD REC Investors in People UKAS