Supply teachers are an essential part of any school. Schools are not able to provide a high standard of education without temporary staff coming in to cover for absent teachers, or teachers who have left. Yet, in many schools, supply teachers are treated as an afterthought. They often feel their schools undervalue them and don’t appreciate their efforts, which means they may not want to go back there if they’re ever asked again.
It’s possible to build a mutually beneficial relationship between the supply teacher and the school, where the teacher enjoys working there and is happy to come over at short-notice, while the school is confident they have an effective teacher on board.
Here are 5 ways that schools can provide an environment that enables supply teachers to do their best work.
1 – Get off to a good start
So many times supply teachers arrive at a new school and they don’t know where they are or what they’re doing, and no one is around to help them.
To start as you mean to go on, schools should ensure that a new supply teacher is met by an established member of staff. They should be given essential information straight away, as well as keys to their classroom and their class register.
To make this easier and repeatable, schools could take a little time to prepare a little booklet for new starters, containing a map, school rules, computer sign-in information and any other relevant information. They could even email this to the teacher before they start work.
2 – Give detailed lesson plans
It’s not fair to expect a supply teacher to take on 30 new pupils armed only with a post-it note with a couple of scribbled words on there. Or worse, with nothing at all! Asking a supply teacher to ‘just wing it’ is a disservice to them and the pupils.
Schools should provide supply teachers with a detailed lesson plan, as well as all the resources they need to make the lesson go smoothly.
3 – Keep an open mind
Supply teachers often feel like outsiders, even in schools where they teach regularly.
Schools must make sure supply teachers feel welcome by the senior staff, as well as the other class teachers. Make sure supply teachers are included in office conversations and social activities.
Remember too, many supply teachers have been teaching for a long time. They may have some ideas about how things could be done better. Don’t discount their opinion just because they ‘don’t really work there’.
4 – Prepare the pupils
Some children see the presence of a supply teacher as a license to misbehave. ‘When the cat’s away…’
Schools must impress upon their pupils that their expectations of them are the same, no matter who is teaching them.
5 – Offer constructive feedback
Supply teachers often feel that they’re there just to be a ‘warm body’, and receive no feedback or guidance.
Senior staff in schools should offer constructive feedback on how supply teachers can perform better, particularly if they’re facing challenges with individual pupils or aspects of the curriculum.
Also, supply teachers would appreciate a pat on the back and a ‘Well done!’ now and again.
Opogo – improving the lives of supply teachers and schools
If schools follow these tips, they will soon find they have a roster of happy, engaged supply teachers, ready to come and teach when needed.
At Opogo, we aren’t merely a recruitment agency. We want to help our members and partners build mutually beneficial relationships. Here’s how we support our members:
We cover the cost of their umbrella fees
We give our members free access to Perkbox – hundreds of discounts on shopping, cinema, gym tickets and more
The best rates of pay
Access to rich content online and in the app, as well as running weekly development workshops in person
Perfectly-matched jobs based on the right skills, experience and location
And our partners:
100% vetted active members - all met face-to-face by our dedicated and expert consultants
Smart Match Technology that matches the right requirements to the right active members
Free programmes for supporting children’s physical and mental health in the school with #TeachFit, and upskilling them with new skills with #TeachDigital
Mobile app on Android and IOS for booking who you need anytime, plus the same access on desktop
Our Opogo Hub is available for all members of a school to access their own content privately, or all other rich content from our experts
We are excited about transforming the lives of everyone in education.
To find out more about Opogo visit our website or download the Opogo app on your mobile.
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