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Behaviour skills for supply teachers

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by tonymars, Oct 8, 2019.

  1. tonymars

    tonymars Established commenter

    I'm sure there is something about this on the forums somewhere, but it would be very helpful if there was a thread here (or sticky?) specifically for supply teachers.

    Tips. Experience. What has worked or hasn't. New ideas.

    Me. 20 years experience as permament. One and a half years supply mainly half term gigs. A few one day gigs. Now one week placement, zero support, not even a map given. What I've noticed recently. "Results" are all, supplies treated with utter contempt not only by kids but also by "permament" staff, supplies and permanents reluctant or scared to attempt any sanction at all due to fear of pupil " complaints," "records" for ofsted etc. I read somewhere recently that a quarter of all school kids(?) - their parents rather - pay for "private tuition". Can't commment on the source, but if there is an ounce of truth in this... surely something is going wrong in our schools

    To return to original point, surely not a bad idea?

    I recognise that one may have to accept that as a "shorter term supply", with little or no school " support" , quality teaching/ learning/ even communication is less likely to happen, but even if this is tbe case, how does one get through the day not feeling like s**** ?
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    There are no easy answers apart from being selective about qhich schools you go to. The better schools will have good on call systems in place so at least you have a chance to have a pleasant day.

    I used three rules:

    1. Follow instructions fast
    2. Stay on task
    3. Work without disturbing others

    It is of course more complex than that but I told classes my expectations and in 10 years of supply I never covered a class where I didnt expect the work to be done .

    You are always going to have to work that bit harder to get classes on track and stay settled as it is the nature of supply: kids think they can mess anout when their teacher isnt there. The problem now is the classes are bigger and behaviour more extreme.
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  3. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I Don't agree that one can't expect, or at least give the expectation of,
    , but one does have to be realistic and know expectations are one thing and reality are two completely different things and 'be happy' if you can at least get some good quality work out of some of them. Also that it's not your fault if those expectations are not me - it's the students themselves,

    I remember someone telling me, " Well you're still here and standing at the end of the day. Count that as success in this school."

    Developing a hard rhinoceros hide is definitely one of the essentials of supply. ;)
    Some days are OK, occasionally one has a good day, but often it is just gritting one's teeth and a 'getting through the day which enables one to survive mentally And as I think pepper often said 'a Kerching Day!!', where one just has to think however bad it is, it is money in the bank to pay the bills. :)
    suertesamp, JohnJCazorla and pepper5 like this.
  4. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Yes, Kerching Days made famous by Bonnie1 and I hope she is well wherever she is.

    The concept of the "Kerching Day" is as Lara says above, one that no matter how bad it is, you think of the money. However, there are some places/schools/behaviour where I would not go no matter if they paid me £500 per day.

    Working in horrible conditions shouldn't be the norm for supply teachers or permanent staff, but in some schools it is.

    The danger now in schools are mobile phones being used to film deliberate disruption and the ever present risk of a child making an unfound allegation.

    Back to the original question...how to get through the day not filling like s***.

    Pick your schools as carefully as you can and on your days off, retrain in another field or start up a small business.
  5. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    As a supply remember you are there to solve a problem not create one. So make sure there is no fall out from your lessons as much as possible. Don't expect any support with behaviour. At best a permanent teacher may have a word with someone then plonk them back in the lesson to continue as before. With you looking a weaker teacher because of having to ask for support.

    Hope the work is easy. If not try and make it easy. Mindmaps, brainstorms and posters about whatever the normal teacher is teaching work best. Once I was sent to a school that was hell on earth. The cover set with bottom set year 8 was to complete an end of term assessment in silence! Talk about being set up to fail!

    Try to limit the opportunities for students to be out of their seats. Try to avoid the use of scissors, glue and even try not to give out too much paper. Remember a large proportion of students are constantly looking for missiles they can throw. You need to control and limit their supply of ammunition!

    If the kids talk over you it's ok for a day. Remember they probably do this with a lot of their regular teachers so it's nothing personal. Keep it short and sweet and if possible just direct them to what you have written on the board.

    Remember you're not being paid enough to shout at anyone or risk leaving that school having had your mental health affected. Remember you are a stranger in awe of the chaos.
  6. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    There is some vaiation with schools regarding behaviour. The better ones will have an on call system; but the tricky part is to know when to press the button.

    Some schools will even send people around to check if everything is o.k. and you have all you need. Those ate the sparkling memories I have. Not all schools are filled with horrible behaviour but a lot of them are.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  7. tonymars

    tonymars Established commenter

    Rules 1,2 and 3 sounds fine - I've used these before, but if you have a class where the majority refuse to listen to you, or even show any recognition that you are even in the room, even after half an hour waiting for quiet....

    Pick your schools carefully... again, sounds a good idea, but - if these forums are anything to go by - are you being realistic here? Ok, I'm in London and I'm a core subject specialist, with limited supply experience, but it seems clear to me that more and more schools are using unqualified, cheaper staff... I could go on and on here, but the idea that supplies can afford to simply pick and choose - throughout the year -appears a tad detached from reality. Crumbs from the table... bills...

    For the rest, bop... told my services were no longer required from tomorrow.


    No bells. No behaviour policy. No access to computers, OHP, lesson plans or SIMS. No mention of "on call" people..no one in corridors. OK, fine, I've been in places like this before. Get through the day. Kerching. A couple of kids might learn something but no physical harm.

    Today. A second attempt to very briefly explain task to whole class. so much noise no one could hear me. Wrote task on board so at least the few who wanted to approach the work could get started. Circulated briefly to further explain easy -to -understand worksheets. Was ignored, had teeth sucked at me, escalating level of personal verbal abuse from those "reluctant learners," decided to back off from those, as I feared any residual "authority" I had would completely evaporate, and complaints - sir won't let us chat to our friends - might lead to a premature cessation of my week long supply gig.

    Towards end of lesson - time up- students can simply continue to chat elsewhere - a teenage malcontent, with issues, piped up "sir isn't teaching us"... joined by other teenage malcontents with issues and threats to talk to their head of year.... despite reality that they had made, "normal" teaching impossible, had deliberately sabotaged learning opportunities of others...

    Did I do anything wrong?

    Bop. told my services were no longer required. The only time this has happened to me before was when, at the very end of a five week gig, when I was told my services were no longer required on last Friday before Xmas.

    Reflections. My own experience and what I have heard, and also read on these an other forums.

    Maybe the straw was about five years ago when I was an established permanent. Just after SLT decided it would be a great idea to position - and actively encourage students to use- a "pupil voice" cardboard box right outside the staffroom, where they could post ANY issues they felt strongly about. In a library I firmly but calmly told a student, a relatively good kid, to be quiet. His response? I will report you.

    Hey ho.

    I am surprised the education in the UK is not in an even worse state.. But, the powers that be.... I bitemy tongue here.

    I continue to think, however, that for supplies, "behaviour" must one of the most important issues... so maybe a dedicated sticky....

    What the f*** . We're all wh**** now.
  8. tonymars

    tonymars Established commenter

    £500 a day... well now, I might be prepared to do quite a lot for that loot. Back end... front ...

    For tbe rest, sadly this thread seems doomed to sink into oblivion.

    I thought and still think that, apart from pay, and availability of work, behaviour is THE issue for supplies.

    I guess I was wrong.

    Suck it all up. Kids and parents are ALWAYS right. They are clients and we only exist to satisfy their needs.

    We're all w***** now. Can anyone out there be boverred to question this?

    Yup. However you look at it that is the reality from the chalk face.
    Cooperuk likes this.
  9. tonymars

    tonymars Established commenter

    Ah well, I suppose time is limited here, perhaps the monitor police are asleep or elsewhere engaged.

    Good point though, tonymars, what should we w***** do? Lower the price? Offer different "services"? More extreme?blackmail?
  10. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    Though this thread seems to have descended into the obscurity it probably deserves I'll try and resurrect the original point.

    I've been at a 'new' school from Monday and behaviour is appalling to supply teachers because the reasonable disciplinary system doesn't account for people who can't log onto that system. So hard to access help and impossible to control the awkward minority.

    Tomorrow I'll try to meet with the SLT who (I think) is i/c behaviour and is quite visible around school. Then point out how supply really suffer and offer a few solutions.
    This is quite a step for me as keeping my head down and not going there again is my usual process but I'm much more used to long-term gigs so I'll try and be a contender. Also as one of the few maths specialists to hang around in the building I'm in a reasonably strong negotiating position so I should use it.

    I'll report back on this thread, if it isn't pulled.
  11. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    Here's a skill for supply teachers I made up in a lesson on Tuesday. Pretend that as a supply teacher one of the rules is you have to a meeting with the head at the end of the day. Then tell the child being an oik that you will put forward their suggestion.... If you have a photo sheet for a class put a tick by the kids name. ..

    For example:

    Chardonnay: "We're allowed to have our phones out, miss lets us".
    LJA: "I was told there was a strict no phones policy, I'll let Mr Bronson know in our debrief that you think that rule is only for certain lessons".

    Tyreece: "Mr Baxter is a nonce".
    LJA: "I've got to meet with him at the end of the day, I'll be sure to pass on your comments".

    Kind of works when you have reasonable kids trying it on because they think you came down in the last shower!

    I had one girl who wouldn't take her hoodie off. She told me "I'm allowed to wear it, I have a reason". I said "ok fine.". I've been teaching so long that nothing would surprise me anymore. The chances are she probably had convinced some do gooder somewhere that wearing her hoodie and generally getting her own way was critical to her well being. I was there for the day, why fight it!
    suertesamp, cathr and JohnJCazorla like this.
  12. The-Gaffer

    The-Gaffer Occasional commenter

    For situations & children like this I used to say ...

    Ok here's what's going to happen, I've asked you politely 3 times to take that hoody off/put the axe away/put down that poor year 7 girl so if someone walks past the room I'm going to stop them & tell them what's happened

    Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't but I always followed through if someone walked past

    I used to tell the kid in question that if they persisted wearing the 'banned' item the risk that they faced would be that I'd grass them up to the first adult who walked past

    I used to also teach with the door open
    JohnJCazorla and Happyregardless like this.
  13. Happyregardless

    Happyregardless Occasional commenter

    I was about to post some helpful ideas about behaviour but as they are ones I think most people here already know and having just read the behaviour posts from secondary teachers ( being a primary one) I am in awe of how you deal with early onset teen/hormonal behaviour! :D:eek:

    Love-Joy Antiques - Yes, I still get lots of 'helpy-interruptions' that are usually no help and just attempts to draw attention, the level, continuous dialogue and referring to speak with usual members of staff usually works for me too.:D

    The- Gaffer ' I used to teach with the door open' - always
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
    tonymars and pepper5 like this.
  14. tonymars

    tonymars Established commenter

    JJ. A brave thing indeed to speak to the behaviour SLT. Is it a long or short term gig? I for one would be very interested to hear how this went.

    Lovejoy. Like the idea of a meeting with the head at the end of the day. Surely it should not be that hard for schools to provide supplies with mug shots of the kids? Uniform? To tactically ignore or challenge? I guess you can argue for either, but if you are in an outhouse, away from the main school building, to the culture of the place is that no matter what the children are ALWAYs right...

    Leaving the door open. I often do this. Often quite a good strategy, although if the noise is very loud and there is zero support it can backfire and even lead to children rampaging around the school.

    I suppose what really angered me yesterday was the attitude of the kids and the other staff I saw. A Year 10 class with a very good exam skills book. I broke it down: this this page, attempt question, look at model answer, work out how your answer could have been better. Result, work was completely ignored despite my gentle and unobtrusive attempts to encourage them to do anything. Whose fault?
    JohnJCazorla and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  15. freshfriesan

    freshfriesan Occasional commenter

    We start letting schools know that we are part of some kind of educational research pilot, using supply to feed back to Ofsted, "just a little tick box survey sheet we fill in after each school assignment, no, there is no anonymity, our professional judgement is being requested, since we are qualified and generally experienced teachers, between the unions, the department of eduction and Ofsted... That's whst you start telling the schools. It's a nationwide issue and it's an utter farce. We deserve better than this. I won't be returning. But I will be sending information to Ofsted about each place I've visited this last year. I'd sell it preferably but the truth sadly is is that the media wouldn't be interested. I might try still tho. I need some cash.
    Volderama likes this.
  16. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    I've managed the worst of both worlds so far, chasing her around the building but she's always dealing with some crisis and doesn't have time for the 5 mins I want. Then again if she was proper SLT and hid in an office all day I wouldn't have even thought of doing anything. So no news yet but she knows I want a few minutes. She still looks approachable and regretful that she hasn't had the time yet.
    I like leaving the door open as well, if there are any shouters with radios then it can work. Of course, sometimes they get so embarrassingly loud that I close the door which rather spoils the original aim.
    pepper5 and tonymars like this.
  17. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    Still have not caught her, always next week
    pepper5 and tonymars like this.
  18. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    At my first ever supply gig some classes (most actually) were so bad that at the start of the lesson I would write '28' in the corner of the white board to remind me how many pounds I was being paid to teach/survive that hour!
  19. tonymars

    tonymars Established commenter

    Great idea. I've done that a few times in the past and will start doing it again - if of course any work comes up. Unless I get the early am call I am out tomorrow suited and booted to register in person with a coupla new agencies.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  20. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    28??? Inbox me the name of your agency!
    tonymars likes this.

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