Supply teacher fears (and how to beat them)



'It's my first day of supply - I'm nervous'

It doesn't matter how old you are, there is nothing like starting a new job for making you feel like one of the children in your class again. The best way to feel confident is to prepare for what lies ahead; research the school, pack a bag full of stationery, map your route, and have a good breakfast! There will be plenty of staff to help you and offer support, not to mention that the more you do it, the more at ease you will feel. Try and remember that at some point everyone was in your position and that you picked this role for a reason. Finally, and most crucially, be positive!

'I got to the classroom and no work was left'

When you walk into a new classroom all you see is a whole new set of faces just watching and waiting, there is nothing is more frustrating than finding an empty teacher's desk, with no plans. Although it is difficult to plan for classes you know little about, printing worksheets, fun tasks, and simple quiz/brain teasers can be the difference between a crazy 5 hours or a walk in the park (optimism is key!).

If applicable to leave some written feedback with the HOD what progress the class made in the lesson you were covering ie: how far through the set work the class on average got, anything the class as a whole did not understand, which students worked particularly well etc, This will help the usual teacher with future planning.

Try Pinterest and TES for printouts and ideas that have worked for other staff members, this way you can swap ideas and take notes!

'A student shouts - but we already did this!'

We've all been there, the same work has been left time and time again and the students have a severe lack of productivity. Although it may be easier to incorporate sheets that you have brought along with you, it is important to ensure that the work set is completed, as the teacher will have left this for specific reasons. You can however add personality! Offer fun five minute games for every 15 minutes of good working time or finish the lesson with an educational game. Offering incentives to your class is a fantastic way of keep up morale!

'The children aren't listening to my instructions.'

First things first, read up on the school's rules and how to handle pupils if they aren't cooperating in your classroom. Set expectations for your class and outline what is appropriate when you are teaching and what isn't, be consistent in your teaching and keep calm, children can definitely sense the supply fear! Remember that you're here because your agency and the school believe in you, so remember to take a few deep breaths and stand your ground.

If you're particularly nervous about this, or have experienced it in the past, network with other teachers in the staff room and online to find out how they handle it. The more knowledge you have before entering the classroom, the better you'll be able to handle any given situation.

'I don't know if to enter the staff room.'

Staff rooms boost the morale of teachers. This communal area is where teachers can connect with one another. A reminder that working in a school is a team effort. Teachers need that network whether they are permenant or temporary, especially after a stressful few moments. Use the time to network with the school and get yourself known. The more of an impression you make, the more likely you are to be asked back!

'I had an awful day but don't know who to turn to.'

If you work for an agency, call them. Every employer should offer support and guidance whenever needed, and working in Supply should be no different. A quick chat with someone about your worries and concerns can be an instant mood lifter (especially if your confidence is damaged). There is also something to be said for letting us know that you've enjoyed a day too, if you love a particular school then it's great to feed back.

'My agency has called, but I don't want to accept.'

The beauty of supply is being able to pick and choose as and when you work, so never feel obliged to take a day somewhere that you're not comfortable with. Before doing any business with any agency take the time to find out who they are and arrange to see them face to face at their office, you want to ensure that who you are working for has your best interests in mind.

What were/are your worries as a supply teacher and how did you beat them? Tweet us your tips and questions at @staffroomed.