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The View from Both Sides

Jennifer is a Canadian Primary Teacher working in a Primary School in Essex through Protocol Education. Having worked in both long term and daily supply, Jennifer is well-placed to provide some tips to ease the stress of supply work - and ensure you are requested back! 

The view from both sides

Being a daily supply teacher can be nerve-wracking. You live in a constant state of uncertainty: will there be work this morning? Will I get lost on my way to a new school? Will the class I get be difficult? Will there be lesson plans for me?
I have been here, in London, for almost 2 years now. In that time I have gone from daily supply teaching to long term classroom teaching, back to supply teaching, and now I'm back in the classroom full time. Therefore, I have seen, and heard, both sides of the supply teaching perspective. I thought I would share with you my top tips to help ease the stress of supply work while also increasing the chances that you are called back:
1. Be prepared
Despite a classroom teacher's best intentions, lesson plans might not be available. If there is nobody to speak with about what the class has been covering, have a quick peek at their books when you arrive in the morning. Always bring a set of lesson plans that you can adapt to any age group that requires absolutely zero photocopying or computer use.  Arm yourself with a literacy plan, numeracy plan and a couple other foundation subject plans. 
2. Follow the plans
If the classroom teacher has left plans for the day, he or she expects you to follow them. Do not stress out too much about the fine details of the plan; you did not write them, so you will not be expected to carry them out in exactly the same way as the teacher who wrote them would have. But you do need to try your best to stick with them (especially numeracy and literacy). Classroom teachers are reasonable and understand that sometimes it is difficult sticking to the exact schedule and timing in a new class, so if you miss a lesson be sure to leave a note so it can be caught up at a later time. 
On a similar note, if a teacher has left detailed notes about something going on in the class be sure to read it carefully. There is a reason why he or she has taken the time to write it. Some teachers send out stuffed animals and journals on a schedule. If there is a name listed, send it home with that child. If you are unsure, it is best to leave it for the regular teacher to take care of. Always err on the side of caution.
3. Keep the books neat
There is nothing classroom teachers hate more than returning to the class to find the books a mess. Children try to take liberties with supply teachers; it's in their nature to test boundaries with new people. But you need to be firm and expect the same quality from them that their classroom teacher does. Unsure if a messy bit of work is normal? Look in their books.  
4. Keep the classroom neat
This one is simple. You are a guest, so tidy up the paint pots, pencils on the floor and any other mess created throughout the day. It is simply annoying to go back to your class after a day away and not be able to find anything. A nice touch is putting the next day's date on the board, but not necessary. 
5. Be honest
When you are writing your handover sheet for the classroom teacher, be sure to tell the truth. Do not write the behaviour was outstanding if there were issues. If there is a teaching assistant in the classroom, it will get back to the teacher, and then back to the head, and eventually back to Protocol Education. There is nothing gained in this, and you do not come out of it looking like a good teacher. It is likely the children misbehaving for you also misbehave for the classroom teacher, so he or she will be expecting some difficulties. This is not a reflection on you, but on the overall class, so include details on what has happened.  
6. Recognise that teachers are territorial
When you are writing your note, be thoughtful in your word choice. While you need to be honest about what has happened, acknowledge that you are a guest and not there everyday to see what happens all the time. The children you write about are known to the classroom teacher and she or he likely cares about them a lot. Include comments about the positive things as well because you are on their turf speaking about their precious gems.
7. Know your surroundings
Most schools will provide you with a handbook or fact sheet with emergency procedures, but if they don't, it is your responsibility to ask for it. The children will look to you in an emergency situation so you need to know what to do. Find out if any of your students have medical needs that might impact your day. 
It is a good idea to introduce yourself to a teacher in an adjacent classroom as well. If you get stuck or need help at all throughout the day, you will have at least met one person that will likely be willing to help you. 
Do you have any tips to add to Jennifer's? If you do be sure to comment!
Related Blogs:
Speaking and Spellings for Teachers also by Jennifer
Doors and Disabilities by Heather
What the Classroom says about the Teacher by Lynne

Tags: Jennifer, Canadian-trained, Primary Teacher, Teach in UK, Tips, Overseas Teacher, Daily Supply, Protocol Education

Category: Australian Teachers

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