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Supply and Behaviour

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by HelenMcNeil, Sep 28, 2017.

  1. After a long time teaching in post-16 without any problems in ability to control and motivate classes, I've now had to take on general supply work at KS3 and KS4 to make ends meet. I've been offered long term supply jobs and would have really enjoyed these except for certain classes have been very very difficult to manage.
    More recently I was doing general short-term supply at an Academy and the pupils completely disregarded me as an adult in the room - this is the first time this has happened. They refused to stop talking (shouting) and I was unable to even introduce myself much less go through the work set. I then discovered they had CCTV in the room (I wasn't told about this) suggesting bad behaviour as a rule.

    I feel that I need urgent support as to what I am doing wrong in the classroom. I've done a lot of research on strategies and applied these but ultimately the minute these kids see that there is a temporary teacher, they seem to delight in mucking about. Needless to say they are as good as gold the minute a permanent member of staff turns up. It is impossible at secondary to know the names of some 150 kids a day within the time you are there (unless long term). What can I do to calm them down and get their attention for work I've not set? Many thanks
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter


    I have been there and done that.

    What I do is when I take the register, I do a seating plan as I call out the names. I scribble it down so that I know who is who in the class. That way, I know who is sitting where.

    This helps with managing their behaviour. They think because you don't know the individuals they will get away with the bad behaviour. When you then call out certain names they are shocked that you know them individually.

    Other strategies:

    1. Follow the school behaviour policy.
    2. Write names and warnings on the board clearly.
    3. Don't argue with any kid. Just simply say "you haven't followed instructions so that is your first warning. Your name is on the board. That is your second warning. Third = detention

    If you are teaching an ongoing large class, you can put the LO and work on a word document with tasks and timings and simply hand them out. Get them to work independently.

    Feel free to set up a seating plan that works and feel free to move individuals if they are seated next to friends. That is when the nightmare really is. Some pupils get cocky and rude when next to their friends so by moving them you are breaking the dynamics.

    Make sure you follow the school behaviour policy very clearly and if need be get the worst ones removed from the class as a sign that they can't mess with you.

    The worse thing you can do is get into any sort of argument or negotiation with kids. Keep calm, don't shout unless you really need to show who is boss and there are certain occasions when that needs to happen.

    I also do a "countdown" 5, 4, 3, 2,1 so they know they have to finish conversations.

    Good luck.
    TEA2111 and pepper5 like this.
  3. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    I usually raise my arms when i am doing the countdown
    pepper5 likes this.
  4. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi Helen

    I have worked in the circumstances you describe and it is as you say, very very difficult. The problem is usually because the students see it as a game: how many supply teachers can they make cry or run away. You, therefore, have to know how to play the same game. Therefore, if you go in knowing what they are trying achieve and be mentally prepared, then it helps. The above post has some excellent tips, and I would add the following.

    1. Write three rules on the board plus your name:

    Follow instructions fast
    Stay on task
    Work without disturbing others

    To get the classes attention use countdown and then say, in a firm voice, " I need everyone looking and listening this way" Wait till everyone is listening and the talking stops.

    Very briefly, in a pleasant and confident tone, Say"Hello, my name is Mrs M.,Before we get started, I have written the class rules on the board.

    Then very briefly, just read the rules.

    My first instruction is for you to remain silent while I take the register and please get out your books and write the date and title. Then we will start.

    If after a reasonable attempt to get the class settled, then call for SLT or support and when the adult arrives, take the register and go through the rules briefly again.

    The objective is to get most working quickly. If you can do that, then you can warn the ones off task etc. And after two warnings have them removed.

    I wouldn't use names on the board, since it creates drama. Use s notepad and make notes on that.

    At the beginning tell them you reserve the right to move people- then do it to separate students who are off task, disrupting etc.

    Above all, don't show the class you are rattled or frustrated by their behaviour as they see it as a goal to see how far they can push you until you raise your voice, cry or scream.

    Seek out those whom are working well and behaving well and note their names for the class teacher so they get rewarded. Most of the time, it is about 5 students deliberately causing mayhem and the rest want to learn.

    Some schools you might find it so difficult that nothing works and you decide not to go back.

    You have to ACT like you are confident and won't give in.You will find that deep down students want to learn and they want a secure place to do it.

    Lastly, Imhave found scripts useful. Lines I memorise to use to speak to students about their behaviour and to get them back on task.

    If you do have to call on call for any student, ask the student to step outside tomspeak to you and the other adult to minimise the drama. The goal is to keep things from escalating.
    saluki, JohnJCazorla and sarah_dann1 like this.
  5. sarah_dann1

    sarah_dann1 Occasional commenter TES Behaviour peer advisor

    Spot on advice @pepper5

    I've also done supply and found it can be horrendous. As you say, the students see someone they don't recognise and immediately decide to mess about. One student even gave me that as an excuse!

    Importantly, don't think you are doing something wrong. Of course, take on advice and look for ways of managing it but try not to take it personally or let it impact you once you've left the classroom.

    I have used Pepper5's three rules recently and they work well. I've even asked the students if they were reasonable rules and they agree they are! Once you've got this agreement, most students will feel slightly more silly misbehaving. Of course others will still be rude but you've laid out the expectations and can therefore be clear when they have not met them.

    Don't be nervous about calling SLT. I think as a supply teacher I have felt embarrassed to call SLT too often - it can feel like you're being a nuisance but letting the kids do absolutely nothing and be rude with no consequences teaches them nothing as well as making your day miserable. Give clear warnings, then use the school's policy. Be sure to ask for this at the beginning of your day. Most schools now have a parking timetable where students will be sent into other classes of the same subject so ask for this and use it.

    Keep calm. So important and yet very difficult. Try to use names where you can. Ask for class photos where possible - they are easily printed from SIMS/other register programmes. Make it clear to the students that you can identify them and will follow up with their class teacher. If you are returning to a school, or at least think you might do, then try to find out who to report behaviour problems to and what happened next.

    Sometimes when it's really tough and you're doing all these things and it's still hard, remind yourself you're being paid! You're doing this work to get the money you need so just make the best of it and then it will be over! Not ideal long term but I find it helps on the really bad days!
    pepper5 and JohnJCazorla like this.
  6. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Yes, when you are having a difficult class at least think of the money - a kerching day.
  7. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Also, as another thought, there are behaviour management courses online that are inexpensive and since they are online you can do them at your own pace. The TES do one. I don't know the cost nor can comment on it, but I have done with Pivotal Education and it was very good.

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