Inside supply teaching: Jill Thomas
Hi, I’m Jill and I’m a Supply Teacher in London with Zen Educate. I’m trained as a secondary music and flute teacher however over the years I’ve evolved into more of a primary teacher. I have also recently added new expertise to my teaching repertoire after further study and three years living and working in Spain — Spanish, and English as a Foreign Language. In my free time I like to travel to sunnier climates, play the flute, do a power pump or spinning class, and enjoy good food with good people.
I decided to do supply to supplement my part-time teaching role. Initially I was doing supply with another agency, however, I decided to give Zen Educate a try as I wasn’t feeling particularly valued and I also discovered that the rate of pay at the previous agency hadn’t increased in about 10 years. Supply gives me the flexibility to work on one or both of my two spare days, depending on what other commitments or appointments I may have. Zen Educate have been really accommodating of my availability and have found me work consistently for the past 3 months.
“Supply gives me the flexibility to work on one or both of my two spare days”
For those wanting to do supply, the main option is to be ‘on call.’ You say which days you are free and generally will have to wake up early, get ready and wait for a call from your consultant, who will tell you which school you have to go to. Sometimes you can be lucky and receive a call the day before which is great because you can plan your journey in advance and you also know exactly what time you have to wake up! If you are not a morning person, as I am not, this is handy. The other option is that you will be asked to go to a school and then, after (hopefully!) a successful day, they may ask to have you for a longer period.
When looking to do supply teaching, I would recommend that you do your research. There are many agencies out there so you need to find one that suits you. I looked on ratemyteachingagency.com where teachers leave reviews based on amount of work, rate of pay, quality of schools, personability, honesty and overall service. Also, call agencies to find out more information. Don’t be afraid to stipulate what you’re looking for — at the end of the day, it’s your time and expertise at stake. Be polite and friendly with your consultants, that way they will be more inclined to help you!
Do start to put together your own supply ‘kit.’ Here are a few things in mine:
- Favourite children’s book: mine is Esio Trot by Roald Dahl (of course, primary schools have loads of books but I think you’re going to bring more excitement and liveliness to your reading if it’s a favourite)
- An object of curiosity: a game or puzzle to chat about with the kids during carpet time
- Keep Cup: for to and from school and also so I don’t feel bad about using another teacher’s prized mug! Also, if you’re buying a take away coffee, some chains will give you 25p off if you bring your own cup. Do your bit for Mother Nature, I say
- Spare pencils (what do kids DO to pencils?!)
- A notebook
- An umbrella that fits in my bag
- My sense of humour
Good luck, and remember to have fun with it!
Ready to give it a go? Find out more about supply teaching jobs with Zen Educate