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what to expect - first supply job

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by Gila, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. hi everybody, I have my first booking as a primary supply teacher for tomorrow afternoon, and am really quite nervous about it. There won't be any planning. I worry about not knowing the children's names, and what will their behaviour be like? Also, as a supply teacher, can you use the school's photocopier, log in to the class computer, and what if you need any resources - who do I ask for them, ie a globe, or small mirrors for symmetry work? Are the other teachers in schools usually helpful, or will I be expected to use my own resources? I've been asked to do a music lesson, but don't know what resources they have or where they are...
     
  2. hi everybody, I have my first booking as a primary supply teacher for tomorrow afternoon, and am really quite nervous about it. There won't be any planning. I worry about not knowing the children's names, and what will their behaviour be like? Also, as a supply teacher, can you use the school's photocopier, log in to the class computer, and what if you need any resources - who do I ask for them, ie a globe, or small mirrors for symmetry work? Are the other teachers in schools usually helpful, or will I be expected to use my own resources? I've been asked to do a music lesson, but don't know what resources they have or where they are...
     
  3. brunetta

    brunetta New commenter

    Hi Gila
    I do primary supply too (when there's work [​IMG]). Really it depends on the school.
    You don't say which year group you're teaching. I've usually found that
    Reception, KS1 and up to Year 4 the children are generally OK. The most
    difficult classes I've had are Years 5 and 6 but it really does depend on
    the school. I've had a terrible time in one Year 6 and lovely time in
    another Year 6. I've been in schools where I've just been shown the classroom and left to it and in others where a teacher will accompany me, explain a few things (behaviour policy, tricky pupils etc) and make me feel appreciated.
    Often I've specifically had to ask (i.e. sometimes no one's volunteered to tell me)
    - What's the behaviour policy? This one is really important - pupils don't expect you to know it.
    - Any particular pupils I should know about?
    - What's the timetable? When do they finish lunch, do they have afternoon breaks, what time does school finish? (Yes, I've learnt that I have to ask these very obvious questions 'cos the first time I didn't have a clue!)
    - Do I pick up kids from the playground or do dinner nannies bring them in?
    - What about the register? Do pupils take it to the office after registration?
    - What happens at home time? That'll depend on the year group - i.e. do I hand over each pupil individually to a parent/carer.
    You'd think that this info would be readily available to a supply teacher but some schools really don't think about it.
    Try to get to school early so you can have a quick glance at the displays, books etc. If there is a parallel class, find that teacher and ask for some suggestions ie. what kinds of topics they're covering at the moment. I've very rarely had a TA in the class with me but if you do, try to get as much info out of them as poss.
    Quite often, especially if it's just an afternoon and there's no planning, I don't have access to laptop/IWB, photocopier or anything. Try to have work that doesn't involve any of these.
    I always have some kind of story that I can turn into a PSHE lesson if necessary for when there's any spare time.
    I should think that for a music lesson there will be resources provided for you. As for other resources like mirrors, I should think that you can just ask for them.
    One tip I was given when I started supply was to make sure I know the names of the Head and the class teacher so that I can always mention their names if behaviour gets tricky. Sometimes I've said something along the lines of 'Mr/Mrs xxx told me what a lovely class you are. You wouldn't want me to go back to him/her and say there've been some behaviour issues this afternoon would you? He/she would be most disappointed.'
    I remember my first booking (last October, I qualified last June), and I was really nervous. It does get better though and you will start to pick up ideas as you go along.
    Good luck!


     
  4. thanks for all that advice! Will bear it in mind tomorrow - oh btw it's a Year 5/6 class....
    Will try and remember to ask those all important questions too - including the name of the class teacher and head, I think that's a really good idea.
    Thanks again, and good luck for your job search (and everybody else's including mine :)
     
  5. I'd also add a few more ideas. Take name labels (you can buy a roll of sticky labels from pound shops), and ask the children to write their names on and put them on - this will help you especially when you're just in for the afternoon.
    I'd plan a music lesson that requires no IWB (you may be left a laptop and IWB) but you usually won't be. I've taught lessons about rhythm or pace - you can clap or sing if there are no instruments available). BBC Schools website have some good video clips if you can access them at school.
    I'd also have a couple of back up plans - there are some brilliant resources on TES and Primary Resources. Take a few with you for a quick back up lesson or activity.
    PSHE lessons can go well - they can involve discussion, paired talk and maybe a group or paired task.
    I'd also say get the children to tidy up ready for home time about 10 mins before the end of the day so you don't have a mad rush, and then play a game with them.
    I was a bag of nerves before my first supply day, and was left nothing at all that day (not even a register or timetable), but I survived and have had lots of lovely days on supply.
     
  6. I've never used name labels - I've always told the children I'll try really hard to remember their names but if I get them muddled, help me out - and they've always been really eager to be helpful on that front. I tend to make a point of trying to nail at least one name per table (usually there's about 3 kids whose name you mysteriously learn within the first 30 seconds of the day for some STRANGE reason) to help when giving instructions and the like - "Jamie's table are sitting beautifully etc etc"
    Plan tidying up to take a touch longer than if it's your own class.
    Check out morning, end of break, end of day routines - I quite often ask if there's a TA around who can help me match up kids to parents... and make sure I reinforce to the kids that they will have to help me by pointing out the grown up collecting them as I don't know what mum or dad looks like (at which point they usually happily tell you that their mum is fat with grey hair or an equally unflattering description that mum would cringe at if she heard it).
    Don't always assume you can get onto the classroom computer - although at a guess try Teacher, Class name, School Name or Password to login - 99% of the time it works!
    I try not to be too massively reliant on photocopying just in case it's one of those evil machines with carefully guarded codes that no one will tell you... most of the time it isn't but sod's law dictates the one time you really do rely on it - it is. I tend to have a few things in my head that I can fall back on that just rely on whiteboards and paper - at least to start a morning off with while you find your feet.
    Generally it's not bad - particularly lower primary there are usually TAs you can fall back on who know the routines and classes, or a parallel class teacher who you can ask... or just stick your head out of the classroom and ask a friendly looking face - with the size of primary schools, finding stuff isn't generally a massive deal.
    Having a couple of time filler games like heads down thumbs up, or apple pie, or elevens work well - as a timefiller and as a carrot in that "oh if we get all the work Mr X left for you to do then we might have time to sneak in a quick game".
     
  7. thanks for all these ideas and comments, I'm really grateful and getting positively excited about my first supply job! will make notes of all these ideas, am sure they are very useful. I have to admit at this point, I have no idea how you play apple pie or elevens though...
     
  8. Apple pie (good in KS1 and KS2 - gets more hilarious in KS2 though) - one kid faces away from the others with eyes shut and you choose another to say either apple pie/fish and chips/sizzling sausages (seen all three variations used - careful with the sausages one if you've got a kid with speech difficulties with Ses obviously!) in a silly voice - kid facing away has to guess who said it... cue mass hilarity from the voices... if they get it right, they stay on, if not, the kid who said it takes over.
    Elevens (older KS2) - kids stand in a circle and basically you count around the class. They can say the next one, two or three numbers in the sequence and whoever says 11 is out and has to sit down basically and the count goes back to one. Gets lots of tactics and mental working out of how to get your mates/arch enemy/all the boys or girls in the class out going on!
    Both requring no resources - and Apple Pie has the added bonus of NEEDING them to be quiet!
     
  9. you've got loads of great advice. I felt exhilarated after my first supply post and walked away from this school thinking this is what i trained to do although not everything went to plan. let us know how you get on.
     
  10. yes I did get loads of great advice, thank you! So here's how I got on.... Everybody at the school was lovely, as far as the adults were concerned. Most the class were lovely too, some really helpful as well. Unfortunately, there were 3 or 4 boys who were not lovely - in fact when I arrived at lunchtime, they were already standing outside the staffroom because of an earlier incident, so clearly they can be a bit of a handful even without a supply teacher in charge. I managed the session ok, but didn't feel exhilarated - I didn't think much learning had taken place, and found it difficult to be the smily, fun teacher I wanted to be, because of the constant low level disruption, which was largely due to those boys. Talking, giggling, feet on chairs, etc. Not a disaster at all, but certainly not a triumph either! I guess as a supply teacher this is probably the hardest bit, the fact that you will be tested constantly? Given that my behaviour management is probably not my strong point at the best of times, I think I did ok, but would love to know how to improve on it for next time. Any ideas? I did use the strategy of writing names down for the class teacher, but that didn't have much of an effect unfortunately. Also, at some point a senior teacher from the next door classroom came in to talk to them - should I be worried about this, or is this normal and just helpful? I was a bit surprised as I didn't think the behaviour was that bad, on the other hand it was nice to have some help. Any comments?
     

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