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Behaviour Management for Supply Teachers: Prevention

Here are Samantha's tried and tested supply teaching behaviour management tips. 

The nights I spent waking up having dreamt up a way to enter a class that doesn’t scream ‘I’m a supply’ I have lost count of.  I have tried and tested many methods to start the class to help the lesson on its peaceful and merry way. I will share with you what I have found.

Firstly start pleasantly and softly, mellow and kind because I find they are not expecting this and also it gives you the shock factor if you do need to raise your voice.

Do not give away that you do not know what’s going on, ask them to sit down and get books out and put bags away. They must start of in silence or you will never again this later one. Don’t start explaining anything until they are quite, move them away from friends, report back to normal teacher, head of year and taking away their break time are good methods of sanctions that most schools support.

Even if you don’t have a clue what their lesson should be, do not show this. Suggest a re-cap of last week’s lesson as a form of assessment. This way you can find out what they know already and not look like a clueless lemon. If you need more time get them to write this down on paper or in books, or if this is not an option get them to discuss it in pairs and then select pairs to feedback to the class.

Hopefully this has given you time find out their lesson and start them off in the right way for them to have a good lesson. A reward system at this point works nicely; offer a fun activity at the end of the session if they complete their work. It could be a surprise or something they normally do like a quiz or a game. This can take up the last five to ten minutes of a lesson very effectively.

Hopefully by now the lesson is in full swing, you have set them a task and they are working quietly. If they have any questions on the work at this point you could set up a challenge system in which people who can answer other students are celebrated and congratulated for their amazing knowledge. This could be passed on to their teacher for rewards or in the game later on they could take a turn first for example depending on the game format.

I find that there are often one or two members of a class that are the leaders. If you can identify these early on and get them working then the rest of the class will follow. This is of course easier said than done.

If a class is required to read a text book don’t just tell them to read, read it with them and ask questions. That way later on when they start to disengage you can say, ‘I helped you read it, you can do this work.’ They are more inclined to work if you have helped them in some way; even teenagers are fundamentally nice in this way. 

Finally my favourite part of being a supply is that you have a room for of new people that you can find out about and talk to. You can ask questions and give them opportunity’s to express themselves in a way they perhaps don’t usually get.

If all of this fails then just remember it’s only an hour lesson and then it might even be lunch time. Better still it could be the last lesson on a Friday and you have the whole weekend to yourself!

Samantha is secondary drama teacher and is currently in a long-term role in East London.


Tags: Samantha, Bromley, Secondary, drama, supply, daily, teacher

Category: Australian Teachers


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