There are many reasons why people turn to supply teaching in the first place. It could be due to the flexibility supply teaching offers, or the relief it provides from the onerous tasks of planning and target setting. Many teachers chose to go into supply as it offers them challenge and variety in their jobs as well as chance to experience a variety of schools and year groups. With teaching shortages, supply teachers have become increasingly essential to the day-to-day running of a school.

There are lots of websites and articles with useful tips and tricks a supply teacher can read before gearing themselves up for their first day. However as schools become more reliant on supply teachers, what can schools do to help them out when they come into their school for the first time?

Although not every supply placement is the same, we have put together 3 things that schools can do to help the supply teacher feel comfortable in the school no matter the circumstance. Here at Zen Educate we are in contact with 1000’s of teachers who often say that a little support would benefit them greatly in order to deliver exceptional lessons.

These tips will ensure schools equip supply teachers with the authority and resources they need. They can concentrate on giving effective teaching to your children and facilitate in-depth learning. Take a look at these steps to learn how schools and supply teacher can support each other in a zen-like harmony.

Tip 1 - Make them feel welcome

  • Ensure a school contact is allocated to the supply teacher and that they greet them at the start of the day and, if possible, show them around so that they get oriented with the school.

  • A good supply teacher should have the initiative to show up early for a placement. One top-tip is to give a start time that is a little earlier than what is required so that this can happen.

  • Catch-up with them during break and lunchtime and encourage the rest of the staff to make an effort to speak with the supply teacher.

  • Have staff who are on PPA walk the past the classroom throughout the day so that the children know that someone is always there to help. It’s worth letting the supply teacher know of this and reassure them that it is not “Big Brother” watching.

Tip 2 - Provide the supply teacher with information

  • A great tip is to create a Supply Teacher Pack, as a one stop shop with any useful information such as:
    • Timings of the day
    • What the fire-bells mean
    • The behaviour policy in writing
    • A list of staff with pictures including their responsibilities in the school (and where their office can be found)
  • Another key tip is to provide the supply teacher information around children that require special attention or care.

  • But above all else, it’s important to make your expectations clear on day one. The supply teacher will have something to work towards, making them successful at their job and ensure that they delivering a top notch lesson to the class.

Tip 3 - Give supply teachers the chance to grow professionally

  • Supply teachers are no different to a teacher that is on a permanent contract. At Zen Educate we have contact with many supply teachers and, whatever the reason that they chose to do supply teaching, the vast majority want to advance their skills

  • In order to advance and develop, feedback is crucial. Especially when supply teachers are there for a short space of time and rarely see the outcomes of the students, how do you know if you are doing right/wrong?

  • If there is a chance to invite a long-term supply teacher to CPD sessions at your school or teacher days, then do it!

Supply teachers are essential to the running of schools. Giving a supply teacher the right information, tools and training can not only help them out with their teaching, but also help the school out by making sure the teacher focuses on the learning of the pupils. Not to mention, if a teacher feels supported at the school they are more likely to return (no matter how bad the day has gone for them). So let’s take these steps to support each other for the good of education! Let us know whether you found these tips useful!