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Are classes always noisy/disruptive with supply? (Primary)

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by MOfan, Oct 9, 2019.

  1. MOfan

    MOfan New commenter

    I've been a supply teacher for a while now and there's been a reoccurring theme across all schools/year groups that I've worked in. Namely that the class always becomes noisy and disruptive with me. Mainly low level stuff, but it can escalate (in the worst of cases and particularly in upper KS2) to throwing pencils/paper. With younger year groups such as Early Years and Year 1, it can escalate to kids literally rolling around on the floor. (I've obviously had far worse experiences, particularly with kids who have behavioural issues/SEN, but I'm talking about the "normal" kids).

    I use all the normal tried and tested strategies i.e. giving verbal warnings, praising those following instructions, using non-verbal signals, rewarding with house points/merits/stickers etc. but I'm obviously going wrong somewhere. I make my expectations clear at the start and have 4 simple rules 1. listen 2. always try your best 3. put your hand up to speak and 4. follow instructions quickly and without a fuss. But waiting for quiet/everyone's attention obviously then slows the pace of the lesson. I normally get through most of what the teacher has left but it just feels like such a hard slog!

    Up until now I've just put this down to classes pushing the boundaries like you'd expect with supply. But having done quite a lot of PPA type cover recently there's been cases where the teacher has walked in and had a go at the class for being noisy/rude/disruptive. It's obvious straight away that the class are more noisy/disruptive/rude with me then they are normally. I'm lucky that in Primary, the teacher tends to tell the class they should behave the same with me (or any other adult) as they would with them.

    So I have 3 questions;

    1. Does everyone experience this?
    2. Is it ever realistic to expect a class to behave the same with me as they would with their normal teacher?
    3. And do you have any tips? Particularly on handling noise levels?

    Many thanks.
    bella2891 and pepper5 like this.
  2. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    Absolutely normal. It's not you, it's them.

    There will be some permanent staff at any school who will think the opposite. They have probably never done Supply Work.

    Relax. Be confident. Enjoy yourself.

    (All easier said than done...but really , what's the worst that can happen?)( Speaking as to Primary, not Secondary where accidents have been known to happen).

    I'm assuming day to day. I accept long term is different, but kids know hierarchies backwards.

    Post influenced by having had a good (albeit poorly paid) day. Part TA, watching rather than attempting to teach lively class. Consoling embarrassed teacher afterwards. Congratulated her on keeping a straight face after some of the banter... More than I could manage.

    You are not being paid nearly enough to be Superteach, even if you have the costume and a handy phonebox...

    Don't beat yourself up.
  3. shirt7

    shirt7 New commenter

    I don’t really like the term ‘low level stuff’. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. Come down on it like a ton of bricks. If you make a big fuss about an apparently trivial indiscetion, they’ll wonder what will happen if they do something more serious!
    Also, if you just accept that they’ll play up a bit because you’re supply, you’ve already lost before you’ve started.
    Happyregardless and pepper5 like this.
  4. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    So I have 3 questions;

    1. Does everyone experience this?
    Answer. Yes absolutely and very much goes with the territory of supply;

    2. Is it ever realistic to expect a class to behave the same with me as they would with their normal teacher?
    You will never get the same responses as their 'ordinary' teacher, Especially in Primary classes become very attached to 'their ' teacher and evenas a permanent teacher, if you have to cover that same class the next year ,that 'rapport' is never the same and you can't get quite the same responses.

    3. And do you have any tips? Particularly on handling noise levels?
    My solution was to accept far lower expectations. I rarely tried to impose silence, but allowed 'partner-talk and when the noise became too loud I always stopped the class and reminded them they could talk quietly only to the person next to them if they needed help.
  5. TheOracleAtDelphi

    TheOracleAtDelphi Established commenter

    I'm coming off the back of two noisy days and feeling a tad grumpy in response. I can't really remember what Monday was like noise wise...a bit chatty but not too bad, I think. The one thing I have noticed is that some classrooms seem to absorb a lot less sound than others, which just makes everything worse. I always find it hardest when they are working together and legitimately have to talk because very often the noise seems to escalate very quickly - a few years ago 'indoor voices' seemed to be everywhere but I've had a couple of blank looks when I've used the term recently so possibly that's gone out of favour.
  6. Jesmond12

    Jesmond12 Star commenter

    I completely agree with this. I was in a classroom yesterday with vinyl flooring and bare concrete walls. The noise echoed around the room. I have a fairly loud voice but it was difficult to get their attention.

    A member of the admin staff came in to collect a child. She told the class to be quiet and they responded immediately... I thanked her with a smile and I wasn’t offended.

    The point that I am making is the children have no idea of who you are. When I was a HT just walking into a classroom would usually ensure silence.

    I worried about this at first but once the children get to know you, especially when you return after a first visit, things do improve.
  7. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    That's certainly true because one can start to build up a rapport with the children.
  8. at64

    at64 New commenter

    Usually I am told the children are quieter than normal, even if I think they are too noisy / fussy for my liking. I always go over their rules and give lots praise for expected behaviour in the first hour. Makes it harder to start but is worth it for the rest of the day. I also only talk in a very quiet voice, so they have to be quiet to hear me. 20 years experience teaches you to only fight the battles you can win. If you have a SEN child who needs to be off doing something else and not sitting, let them. It's one day you are there, they are I'll at ease with a stranger, don't make it an issue but let them know they can come to you when ready.
    MOfan and Happyregardless like this.
  9. Happyregardless

    Happyregardless Occasional commenter

    I was going to post earlier how I've been pleased recently that it seems schools have had a talk with children about respecting ALL adults who teach them and have had some lovely days on supply with well behaved classes, or maybe not so well behaved classes but for some reason have a lovely day with me. Only last week got 'she's amazing!' feedback from school to agency - but wait! This is not to blow my own trumpet but to show how quickly things can change and the excuses that some schools make. Like I said I WAS going to post that earlier and then this afternoon happened!
    HORRENDOUS! Is the only word I can use to describe it. It took me back to my NQT years at an inner city school - which was lovely in itself and has won all kinds of awards and wotnot now but had its fair share of challenging behaviour.
    Just CONSTANT interruptions and yes, set boundaries, set ground rules, waited, didn't wait, used school system, bribed with giving out far too many raffle tickets just for apparently doing the normal things other classes do like, ermm well you know sit and listen to the teacher without talking over her or others for about 5 mins! A high percentage of boys with SEN issues, throwing fits because they had lost their favourite fiddle toys etc, threatening over children - it was like juggling plates an crowd control, although amidst it all the rest were respectful and did some cracking work, but I had a headache driving home just from the sheer noise, the preventing everything kicking off between individuals and the blatant mickey taking of me and each other.

    This is the point though isn't it? - this is one thing we see on supply that other poor s---- especially NQTS who have nothing to measure it by see - how you can be 'outstanding' in one class and a pile of poop in another! For those of us on supply we shrug it off like water off a duck's back and move on, for those stuff with no benchmark they are probably wondering if it's just them and will it ever get better?
    For those of you who ever read this who are on permanent contracts, or similar know that IT IS NOT YOU. If I was really a c***** teacher I'm guessing I would be c**** in lots of places and this was the exception, the common experience being lovely days at lovely schools generally.

    The Head actually said to me in a de-brief, as it clearly wanted to know how they had been/what had happened when a TA had mentiioned it ( pesumably after she asked me how it had been and I said horrendous!) that the children felt 'abandoned' whehever their class teacher wasn't there and they had someone else in - I mean c'mon really - the poor wee snowflakes eh?!
    MOfan, ms honey and Jesmond12 like this.
  10. MOfan

    MOfan New commenter

    Thanks for your replies everyone. I've been with the same class this afternoon (an extremely lively, immature Y1 class that are more like Early Years) and have had another horrendous time of it. But a Y2 class in the same school yesterday were lovely. So it's definitely them!!!
  11. MOfan

    MOfan New commenter

    Well that definitely proves they try it on with supply teachers then. Very reassuring!

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