When going in to a school as a supply teacher, you may feel quite nervous and worries, especially if you have never taught there before. Not only do you have to get used to the way the school is run and set out but also the other members of staff and the pupils. Every school may have slightly different policies and so if possibly it is important to find out how the school operates and the names of the teaching staff.
When going in to the new classroom, beware that not all pupils deal with change in a good way and you may come across a certain amount of resistance. Many pupils may think that they can wrap the wool over your eyes as you are not familiar with the school of the pupils but if you have a teaching assistant to hand, do not be afraid to have a chat with them first or if anything comes up that you are not sure of.
Always have a tried and tested lesson planned that you can use if possible so you are confident in what you have to teach and how to do it. Set out clear boundaries to the pupils when you first start the lesson explaining what you expect and what you don’t expect from them and do not be afraid to challenge a difficult pupil.
Teachers have a lot of pressure put on them to perform well and although many people think that teachers are only responsible for ensuring that our children have a good education, the truth is they are often responsible for much much more.
Children pick up life skills from everyone around them so although a lot of this can be taught at home, they will also learn many important skills at school, as they spend the majority of their waking time there. If a child has not gone to nursery and does not have brothers or sisters living with them, it may be that they have not had much experience with having to share and play with other children, When they go to school this is something they will be expected to do quite quickly and the teacher will often need to instigate this and help where needed.
Many of us remember our first teacher and will think about something they taught us, and this may not necessarily be something academic.
Teachers have a hard task of having to teach children life skills without having the one to one time a parent at home may have.
The bell rings at 3 o’clock and the children leave in a bustle of coats, called greetings and goodbyes and forgotten water bottles. The classroom may be deserted, bar for the cleaners and odd parent rummaging through drawers to find that lost jumper, but the day is far from over for the classroom teacher. The desk is heaving with neatly stacked piles of books waiting to be marked. With the obligatory ‘school agreed’ pen colour (green), and the array or stampers (verbal feedback given, targets discussed, objective met) not to mention learning objectives and success criteria to be glued in, the teacher ploughs through the mountain of books ready for the next day. But who is this marking actually for? OFSTED? The Senior Management team?
Recent research has shown that on the other side of the spectrum from ‘deep marking’ (i.e. marking, children respond, teacher responds to child, etc.) instant, and often, verbal feedback is much more important and effective as a teaching strategy than writing a paragraph of comments that the child either doesn’t read or can’t understand. This does mean a move away from the traditional model of the teaching sitting with one group all lesson. A quick ‘sweep’ of books at specific points in the lesson may offer the opportunity to discuss a misconception and model a different approach to individuals to set them back on track. In this way the feedback becomes more meaningful, and can be acted upon immediately.
Gone are the days of slaving over a pile of work at the end of each day, and instead a handful of jotted notes can inform the next lesson’s planning and evidence of discussions can be seen in children’s books by corrections and modelling during discussions.
With half term approaching us, many students have recently gone in to new classes or even new schools and teachers have had the hard task of settling them in. For young children just starting out at school, this time can be a little bit scary and it can make them wary of what to expect. As a teacher it is your job to help them settle in, talk through any concerns they have and reassure them of their safety and wellbeing.
Often by allowing them to gradually take responsibility for tasks within the classroom, they will soon start to become confident of the daily routines and what to expect.
It may be that some children starting school do not know any other pupils in the class, if this is the case it is especially important to help them make new friends and to ensure that they are included in activities.
Being a supply teacher can be hard work. You may be put in charge of a classroom full of pupils you have never taught before with very little in the way of planned work. In this situation you need to be able to quickly establish the rules with the students and get them started on a task.
Always make sure you arrive early for a supply teaching job, especially if you have not taught there before. This will give you enough time to familiarise yourself with the school policies regarding behaviour, break times, lesson structures etc.
It’s a good idea to have suitable teaching ideas up your sleeve so that you have something to fall back on if you need it. You may find that the teacher that you are covering for has all the lesson plans so you need to refer to your own to keep the children occupied.