Supply teachers: How to crack a new school (6 tips)
As a supply teacher, you’re always learning the ropes. And no sooner have you learned them you’re starting again in a new job—all while managing a new set of pupils in that special ‘supply teacher’ mood. It’s an exhausting process.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to smooth that transition, so you can get on with actually teaching.
1. Do your research
Take 10 minutes to research the school ahead of your first day. Look at their website and Ofsted inspection reports to get a better sense of what the school and the pupils are like. If you work with a good recruiter, they should give you inside information on the school in advance.
2. Ask questions
The best way to understand a new school is to ask your new colleagues lots of questions. Here are the key ones to ask:
Has work been set and where can I find it?
Are there class lists and seating plans for the lessons I’m covering?
Is there anything special I need to know about the students? Does anyone have SEN?
Who can I ask for support with behaviour?
Are there any TAs for my lessons? What are their names?
How do I access ICT? Who can I contact if something isn’t working?
Are there any TAs attached to my lessons? If so, what are their names?
Could I have a timetable?
Could I have a map of the school?
3. Build relationships
While you should be given a named contact to report to when you arrive, don’t just stop at them. The more people you get to know, the easier it will be to crack the school.
Start by introducing yourself to the reception staff, who’ll be a goldmine of information. It’s also a good idea to introduce yourself to teachers working in nearby classrooms, in case you need to call on them for help during a lesson. Most importantly, if you’ll be working with a TA, take some time to get to know them during a break or lunch break. A good relationship with them is essential.
4. Identify student helpers
At the start of a lesson, or of the day in primary school, it’s a good idea to choose three or four students to help you while you’re teaching them. Most students will enjoy the responsibility of helping you hand out books and find resources, and answering your questions about the school.
If you can, ask a colleague to recommend a few students as helpers. Otherwise, go by first impressions or ask for volunteers.
5. Come equipped
Try and get to school early enough for a quick look around your classroom before students arrive. If lesson materials haven’t been left for you, talk to whoever is responsible for cover work immediately. It’s best to come prepared with at least a couple of generic lesson plans just in case.
If you know you’ll be following your own lesson plan, double-check that you have all your resources and materials in advance. It’s worth bringing some essentials like scrap paper and board pens with you to avoid being caught out.
6. Learn the school policies
Wrapping your head around the rules and routines can be one of the hardest things about a new school. Make sure you learn the essentials as soon as you arrive, or in advance if possible. At a minimum, you’ll need to know:
The behaviour policy, rewards and sanctions, and the steps for escalating behaviour management to a senior staff member.
Any lesson routines, like lining up outside class at the start of a lesson, standing quietly behind chairs at the end, etc.
The fire drill and the locations of fire exits.
Who to report to with any child protection concerns.
If you are looking for an agency that can help you find regular, local work then Vetro can help! Take a look at our latest live roles or contact us on 02921 660 880 to speak to one of our specialist education recruitment consultants.