Supply teachers need instructions

Last week I had a supply-teaching placement covering a PE lesson. It wasn’t my best lesson. In fact if I am honest, I felt the lesson was quite chaotic.

It wasn’t helped by the fact that I spent the first 20 minutes of the lesson struggling to open the games store cupboard.

Then, when I finally managed to open the games store cupboard, my students rushed in to get their equipment… and enough balls came out to scatter the children to different areas of the playground in separate mini games.

As I was on my own, I found this situation tough to manage. I could have done with a large tannoy speaker.

When I got home that night, I started to think about how this day could have been better managed. I concluded that all my problems came down to the brief I was given.

So how can a school prepare for supply teacher cover?

Take the time to put together a simple instruction document or even a supply teacher’s handbook, so that:

  1. Both the school and the supply teacher have an essential point of reference.
  2. Logistical issues are considered and addressed before the supply teacher starts work.
  3. Trust and understanding can be developed between the school and its supply teachers.

Make sure a supply teacher’s instructions/handbook:

  • Includes a brief section detailing the school’s policies.
  • Details where key facilities are located, i.e.:
  1. Toilets.
  2. Gym.
  3. Library.
  4. Head master’s office.
  • Provides a timetable (times of assemblies etc.).
  • Highlights primary tasks that need attending to.
  • Explains where resources can be found to enable the tasks to be completed.
  • Includes warnings. Do not expect the supply teacher to second-guess processes that are familiar to you.

In this instance a simple set of instructions would have told me that rather than spending 20 minutes trying to force a stiff lock… I simply should have turned the lock the other way.

In conclusion, by providing your supply teacher with detailed instructions that cover all of the bases, you can be confident that:

  • Your supply teacher will be informed.
  • The handover to the supply teacher will be seamless.
  • Teaching staff and students alike will benefit from an organised day.

Does my experience sound familiar to you? Do tell me if you have a supply teacher experience you would like to share?

Rick Smallwood, Founder teachweb supply teaching agency
Rick Smallwood, founder, teachweb

 About the author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teacher agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

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