Top 10 Questions To Ask When Supply Teaching
It's well known amongst seasoned supply teachers and cover supervisors that no sooner have you got the code for the photocopier and found the quickest route to the toilets, you're usually onto the next school.
The process of establishing yourself will start all over again in a new environment where you've no reputation to draw upon, all the while you're expected to manage behaviour and deliver lessons in an engaging manner.
Cracking each new school is certainly not an easy prospect, but there are questions you can ask that will help to smooth the transition between schools, so you can get on with the business of teaching.
Who are the safeguarding officers?
Knowing who the safeguarding officer is, is an important piece of information to know as this person is your main point of contact if you have safeguarding concerns at any time during your supply contract.
Are there any children in the class that have ALN or SEN?
This is a key question to ask as it will allow you to understand the needs of those children who are affected. You may also be able to ascertain if there are any teaching assistants that need to sit in on during classes where these children are present.
Are there any assemblies and if so, what time?
This may seem like a silly question but many of our supply teachers have mentioned that they were expected to take a class to assembly but were entirely unsure of where the assembly was being held, what time it was taking place or if they were expected to present anything.
What are the times of breaks and lunch time?
Again, more of an admin question but break times and lunch breaks are just as important for you as for the students.
What is the marking policy?
This will depend on your role within the school, as a supply teacher you will be expected to mark the work that your class undertakes during your contract. However, if you are a cover supervisor, it is not expected that you mark work.
Am I on playground duty?
Another admin question but it’s better to be sure that you aren’t expected to supervise break time or lunch than to assume you’re not.
Where are the staff room and staff toilets?
Arguably the most important questions of all.
What are the codes to get in and out of the buildings etc?
If your school is technologically advanced, you may have to make a note of codes for various entrances and exits to avoid being late for lessons.
What are the login details for the computer/register?
This is not something your students will know so make sure to ask for this before you are expected to cover a class.
Duties of any Teaching assistants or students in the class.
If your school has a specific set of duties that are expected of cover staff, make sure you are aware of these before you begin your day. Better to be over-prepared than unaware.
Alongside the above questions, we also suggest that you do the following:
If you can, get to your school early enough to be able to take a look around your classroom before the students arrive. If no lesson materials have been left, you will have time to speak to whoever is responsible for ensuring cover work is in place.
If you’re expected to teach your own lesson plan then turning up early will allow you to check you have all of the materials and resources you need.
Similarly, it’s also helpful to carry two or three generic lesson plans to fall back on in case of an educational emergency.
Learn the policies
Make it your priority to learn the essentials when you first get to the school or even better, beforehand if they can be sent to you. One of the most difficult things about entering a new school can be getting to grips with the policies and procedures as these often differ from school to school.
If you can manage nothing else, make it a priority to learn the following:
- The behaviour policy, including any systems of rewards and sanctions, as well as the steps you need to take to escalate behaviour management to a more senior member of staff.
- Any lesson routines, such as lining up outside the classroom before a lesson, or standing silently behind chairs at the end.
- The fire procedure and where the fire exits are.
- Who the named person is within the school for reporting any child protection concerns.
If you’d like more information about tackling supply teaching contracts and cover supervision, why not download our free guide to supply teaching? This will give you everything you need to make it through your supply contract without an issue.