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From a Supply Teacher: 8 Things I Wish Teachers Would Do

27/07/18

"We all know class teachers do a tough job. Some of us are supply teaching to get experience so that we can join them - and some of us have been there, done that and got the badly-signed T-shirt in washable felt-tip. Either way, we know that they work very hard, and so no one expects perfection. We’re all human." - Jo

Here are a few things we wish class teachers or schools would do to make supply teacher's day more productive! (If you are a class teacher and already do these things, you are amazing and we love you – could we please come and teach your class next week?)

1) Tell your class that you won’t be there...

...and as much as you can about the day’s plan. Uncertainty fuels misbehaviour. If you can, tell them who is coming, and something nice about us (e.g. Ms X has been to our school before and really liked it). This enables us to start the day on a positive note and minimises insecurity. This is especially important for any children with attachment or organisational issues (see no.6).

2) Leave us the computer password

Tracking this down, particularly halfway through a maths lesson when the board has ‘gone to sleep’, can waste huge amounts of time - time during which we cannot support children, mark their work or read through plans!

3) Ask the office to tell the agency when booking if a day involves PE

This helps us to dress appropriately or bring at least a change of shoes.

4) Try to leave work suitable for someone who does not know any of the children

Complex tasks that require a lot of referral back to previous lessons and knowledge of the children’s individual abilities rarely go well. Stand-alone or straightforward tasks with open-ended extensions and simple learning objectives increase our chances of a successful day with your class.

5) Let us know really important information for the children’s wellbeing

This includes safeguarding issues over children’s names, which ones need to go the toilet on demand to avoid accidents and which ones don’t speak English or have other needs.

6) Draw our attention to the two most important documents

– the behaviour policy and marking policy. Be clear about how we should use them. We are pretty adaptable, but cannot yet read minds and will not be able to apply your personalised strategies with a difficult child if you don’t tell us about them – or talk to the child (see no.1!) 

7) Let us know if part of the day involves children in sets for subjects

- (ideally with a group name list!), or if we need to supervise extra children for a lesson. It is our job to be adaptable, but if it doesn’t have to be a surprise, please share the information. It helps us to come across as confident.

8) In school, but not in your class?

We completely understand that you might need to come in. It’s your classroom and your stuff is here. Sometimes, we know, you need to take out individuals. However, it would help us a lot if you would treat us like any other colleague and avoid interrupting us to talk to the whole class. If we’re making a mistake then that’s different, but otherwise please help the children to understand that, temporarily, they need to listen to us and we will respect you in return by helping you with whatever it is you need. If your class respects you, they will be more likely to respect us if you make it clear that this is what you expect.

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