supply teachers and bands. What they have in commonIn my day job I am a supply teaching recruitment consultant. Yet last night, ‘Matthew’ I was a rock star.

I should explain. Earlier this year I joined a new band. Last week we performed our first gig.

It was both nerve racking and thrilling. Indeed it reminded me of what it was like to stand up in front of a new class for the first time.

Following the gig and our debrief, I started thinking about what new supply teachers can do to minimise the uncertainty and maximise the things they can control to reduce their stress levels. Here are 3 strategies I came up with:

Hit the ground running with unfamiliar equipment

When we arrived to perform our first gig, my band found itself sharing equipment left by the previous band. I needed to be able to pick up where the last band had left off and hit the ground running.

Similarly supply teachers have to pick up where previous teachers left off. Therefore I recommend supply teachers prepare themselves to be not too reliant on specific pieces of teaching kit. In fact supply teachers should prepare themselves for the unexpected.

Coping with nerves

This first gig I performed with my new band was the first gig I had performed in front of a live audience in over 20 years. I have to admit I got really nervous.

However this was when my teaching experience came in handy. I understood that my nerves were actually a positive thing as they helped me to keep alert.

Try to enjoy the teaching experience. Our previous post on using body language to your advantage may also help you.

Laying the stage

When my band rehearses we are able to stand in a formation that enables us to look at one another and to give each other cues. When we took our positions in front of our audience, I realised we couldn’t do this. This threw me somewhat. As a result I realised the importance of rehearsing in full gig configuration.

It’s the same with teaching a new class. Rehearse your lesson plans. Make sure you know them inside out. Knowing your material inside and out will ensure whatever the layout/size of the classroom, you will feel comfortable.

So you see, supply teachers can learn a lot from new pop bands. Ultimately the success of both comes down to practice. I hope you enjoyed this post and would welcome your comments.

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.

Teaching referencesDo you know what your teaching references will say about you?

Don’t leave obtaining teaching references to chance. If you are competing for a position, they could mean the difference between you getting the supply-teaching job or not.

In part one of our ‘How to win your ideal supply teaching job’ series, we gave you advice about How to create a winning supply teaching CV.

In this, part two of our series; we have compiled some greats tips for making sure your references serve you well:

  1. Choose your references carefully. Make sure your referees will provide the most positive impression of you.
  2. Make sure referees are not surprised to be contacted about you. Choose to obtain teaching references from your most recent long-term roles.
  3. In fact, stay in touch with your referees. Thank them for providing references, regardless of the outcome. This will encourage them to talk about you in a positive light in the future.
  4. Brief your referees to sell the specifics that connect you to the type of teaching position you seek. Offer a list of characteristics you believe will support your application.
  5. Supply teaching is fast moving. Try to use referees who are organised and will respond quickly to email contact.
  6. Make it easy for your supply teaching recruitment consultant. Keep your contact information up to date.

And finally be honest about any problems you may have experienced in the past. It pays to get your supply teaching recruitment consultant on YOUR side.

Have you got any tips you can share about how you managed to secure the best supply teaching jobs? We would love to hear them.

And look out for next week’s post. It will provide you with vital tips for teaching an observed lesson.

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.

And avoid the most common supply teacher CV mistakes

supply teacher cvIf you are competing against numerous candidates for a job, your supply teacher CV needs to stand out from the crowd. In fact in reality you only have about 30 seconds to grab the attention of a potential employer.

At teachweb, our many years experience has told us what works and what doesn’t. Indeed we have seen see the good, the bad and the just plain ugly when it comes to supply teacher CVs.

Therefore in this, the first part of our 4 part series on how to get your ideal supply teaching job, I am going to tell you how you should craft your supply teacher CV to make sure that you get noticed.

So take advantage of these tried and tested tips and practical advice for creating the perfect supply teaching CV.

When constructing a supply teacher CV…do:

  • Begin your CV with a brief statement of your objectives. Then list your most relevant teaching experience.
  • Teaching recruitment agencies and schools are most interested in the teaching roles you have carried out most recently. If they want to find out more they will ask you at the interview. Therefore list your experience in REVERSE chronological order.
  • Focus the content of your CV on job you are applying for. The objective of your CV is to connect your skills and experience to those that the school is seeking. Therefore if you teach Spanish and History, match your Spanish skills to the requirements of a Spanish teaching job. Match your History teaching skills to the requirements of a History teaching job.
  • Pay particular attention to detail. Proof read your CV at least three times. Better still get someone else to proof read your CV for you. Remember your competition will also be paying attention to detail.
  • Assume first impressions count. Your CV is your first impressi• on.
  • Listen to the advice given by your supply-teaching agency. We have vast experience in reading, processing and distributing CVs. In fact if there is one thing we are good at it is evaluating CVs.
  • Use the advice given to create a stand out CV. You only need to do this once. Having created your perfect CV, it can be sent to hundreds of schools.

When constructing a supply teaching CV…do not:

  • Reinvent the wheel. Use a standard supply teacher cv template. Your objective is to make it easy for an employer to find the information it needs quickly and easily.
  • List your experience backwards. Place your most recent experience at the top of your CV please.
  • Use boxes. Believe it or not – they look OLD FASHIONED!
  • List lots of impressive but irrelevant qualifications (especially at the top of your CV). Schools know many PHD holders cannot teach well.
  • Write your CV in Times New Roman. Use a reader friendly font. We recommend Arial font in 12 pt.

Now you have got a sense about what and what not to do download these supply teaching CV templates and use them as a starting point for creating your winning CV.

Watch this space for part two in our series on how to win your ideal supply-teaching job. Next week we will provide you with advice about how to obtain references.

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.

Thank you to each and every supply teacher that took part in our ‘tantalise teachweb with your supply teacher travel tales’ competition. It was a tough decision, however we have finally managed to pick a winner.

We are delighted to announce that prize money of £200 will soon be on its way to Nirvasha Jithoo.

And without further ado, here is Nirvasha’s winning entry:

A supply teacher’s summer Holiday in Cape Town

supply teaching travel tales

“My summer holiday was in beautiful Cape Town, South Africa with my family.

As we landed at Cape Town International Airport, the wintery gale winds were in full force accompanied by the pelting rain.

However, this was not a distraction for us to come to Cape Town. As we drove into the city, I was delighted to see the iconic Table Mountain which was covered in a thick cloud and a glowing rainbow which lit up across the sky.

Wild waves hit the rocks at Sea Point and Camps Bay treacherously while the trees swayed vigorously. The coastal drive towards Hout Bay was very scenic. We dined at a lovely restaurant called ‘The Taj’ in Hout Bay.

The next day the weather turned out to be bright, sunny and welcoming. We went on a boat ride to ‘Seal Island’ and to our delight these playful Cape Fur Seals were very happy to see us. They rolled lazily on the rocks, snorting and groaning.

The boat came past the majestic Kabonkelberg mountain range. The spectacular road trip along Chapman’s Peak with the sea below and high mountainous cliffs was truly a spine-tingling experience.

The next day we set off in the early morning to Hermanus. The road journey along Gordan’s Bay into ‘Betty’s Bay’ was breathtaking with the rugged mountain capturing the landscape magnificently along the coast. It was a delight to see the Southern Right Whales as they clustered by the cliff path below the rocks. These gentle giants played with each other and even showed off by breaching spontaneously to every watcher’s amazement.

Upon our departure from Hermanus, we visited the university town of Stellenbosch. We got the opportunity to visit a wine farm and had a taste of the different awarding winning wines. The town was adorned by impressive Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture. Shopping at the local mall was a major pass time for the locals, also there were many places to have a cup of coffee and locally made scones.

We also included a separate day trip to the Western Cape coastal towns of Langebaan and Saldhana. I was really curious to see Langebaan which is a special ‘Afrikaner’ dominated town, most of all, it is well known to embrace the first inhabitant, the Khoikhoi and San of the Western Cape Province.

It was a tranquil place with restaurants and holiday resorts, away from the hustle and bustle of Cape Town. The white sand beaches along the Langebaan Lagoon were refreshing. We were able to notice that the town offered numerous opportunities for water sport such as sailing, kayaking and kitesurfing. I enjoyed the thrill of sailing along the lagoon with my brother.

Not very far off, was Saldahna Bay, a natural harbour which is one of the major fishing ports and also a port to export ore from South Africa. The glowing sun on the bay was stunning making it look like a crystal clear glass.

This town peaked my interest on how close and friendly the local people were. They seemed to be content with their daily routines away from the pressures of the big cities in South Africa. The Hoedjieskoppie Nature Reserve in Saldhana was on a hill, the beautiful views and traditional fishermen’s cottages was a picturesque site to see.

As we departed Saldhana Bay, we travelled to Cape Town to spend the late afternoon at Cape Point. The route was immaculate with miles of beaches stretching all the way. In Simonstown, we stopped to buy gorgeous African souvenirs.

We were able to see the first lighthouse since 1859 which stands at the highest section of the peak at Cape Point. The Cape Point is also well known for the main historical route from Europe to India and the East. We eventually finished off the day with a scrumptious meal at the ‘Two Oceans Restaurant’ before departing to Somerset West.

The next day we travelled to Robben Island to visit the island’s prison museum where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years. It was unbelievably poignant and touching to see how the political prisoner who fought against the ‘apartheid’ regime coped all those years in such a harsh terrain succumbed to a small cell.

The views from Signal Hill was unbelievable stretching all the way to Camps Bay. As the thick cloud over Table Mountain moved away the sun captured the spark of the city of Cape Town. The hill rise is surrounded by the beautiful proteas. The sunset from Signal Hill was really blissful and calming for the soul.

Our last day in Cape Town was at Camps Bay where we spent time relaxing on the beautiful beach to enjoy cool drinks and ice-cream.

I completed my holiday with so many wonderful memories and moments as I departed to return to London assimilating the contrasts of the poor and wealthy communities in Cape Town, most of all it’s incredible landscape beauty to political changes of the transition from the ‘apartheid’ era to a present day democratic country with a constitution that holds no prejudice against colour or religious sect. It was a fantastic trip and I would return again for another holiday.”

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

About travel loving supply teacher agency owner Rick Smallwood:

Rick 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.

Strategies for gaining student attentionYou receive the supply teaching call to action… You arrive at the classroom… Now you feel a nervous wreck… How do you get student attention?

No need to worry my friend. Here’s a simple and effective strategy for quickly and painlessly getting and maintaining the attention of your new class.

In fact, add this strategy to your classroom management toolkit and your supply-teaching day will be a walk in the park.

A supply teacher called Joseph Young passed on this effective student attention strategy to me. According to Joseph, this strategy guarantees good behaviour and learning response.

The supply teacher toolkit

You will need to purchase:

• One small prize to be awarded at the end of each lesson. For example, a pen.
• One book of raffle tickets.

Gaining student attention: The method

Explain to your class that:

• Every one of your students has a “stake” in the lesson and a fair chance of winning a prize.
• You will be giving out raffle tickets to students demonstrating good class behaviour.
• At the end of the lesson you will draw a raffle ticket from a hat and the winner will receive a prize.

Then

• Make sure every time a student does something good, you award them a raffle ticket.
• At the end of the lesson ask one of your students to draw a raffle ticket from a hat and announce the winner.

The results

• Your students will be focused and will have a sense of anticipation.
• You will stand out from usual daily supply teachers. It will be almost as if you are showing them a magic trick.
• No matter how small the prize… know that your students will be eager to win it!

And finally…

This student attention strategy may cost you a small amount of money, but that money will buy you:

• Peace of mind.
• A better working atmosphere.

Like this tip? Let us know if you have any others that we can pass on.

Your success is our success.

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 teaching agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

what supply teachers can learn from doctor whoIn his latest quest to save the earth from devious monsters, Doctor Who found himself working undercover in a London Secondary School.

Now Doctor Who is no stranger to arriving and having to adapt to new and stressful situations. So we at teachweb thought who better to provide supply teachers with advice on settling in and making an impact?

Therefore here are 3 tips supply teachers can learn from Doctor Who.

1. You don’t have to be around long to make your mark.

Do you remember the 8th Doctor Who? He made but two television appearances. Yet in these appearances he made an impact (of course by saving humanity!) Supply teachers can take away the fact that it is actions that make you memorable, not the length of time you have been around.

2. Expect the unexpected

Doctor Who has vast experience landing in alien environments. As a result of his time travels he is always prepared:

a) As a supply teacher, you may not be able to travel by Tardis, but you can and should plan your journey beforehand.

b) Doctor Who understands knowledge is power. So do your research on your school. If you can, arrive early so you can investigate your school’s people, behavior policy and routines.

c) The Doctor never leaves home without his sonic screwdriver. Make sure you have your essential supply teaching kit at hand. Include:

  1. Back up teaching resources, in case plans haven’t been left for you.
  2. Time filling ideas. The Doctor always has something up his sleeve to keep aliens occupied whilst he plans their destruction.
  3. A set of pens… well you never know.

3. Relationship management (both teachers and children!)

a) Be brave in the face of new environments. Put a big smile on your face and make sure you say hello to everyone you meet. The Doctor’s endless enthusiasm and energy always leaves a good impression.

b) Know that teenagers can be as unpredictable as Daleks. Whatever strange behaviours your students display, earn their respect and trust by positioning yourself as the Doctor would: The professional with the knowledge and experience in the room.

c) The Doctor has met and had to deal with over 400 different types of aliens and monsters during his career as a Time Lord. When meeting a new monster for the first time the Doctor knows it is vital to establish calm and attention. Have some ‘settling’ tricks up your sleeve. These can include word games and number quizzes to capture your student’s focus.

In conclusion: Managing change and renewal is key to the success of both time lords and supply teachers. Every-time the Tardis door opens the Doctor is presented with a new challenge. Yet he always faces up to his fears and triumphs in the end.

Supply teachers can learn a lot from Doctor Who.

And one final tip… always remember to be nice to the school caretaker. You never know when you may need his help.

Get in touch if you would like some more supply teaching tips.

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 teaching agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

supply teaching travel tale
£200 will be awarded for the best story!

It’s September. Teachers and kids alike are now officially ‘back to school’. Yet supply teachers: Before your summer becomes a distant memory, we would love to find out what you got up to during your six week break.

Did you put your teaching skills to good use, albeit in a different environment? Did you:

• Tutor?
• Work at a summer school?
• Work at a summer camp?

Or did you take the opportunity to have an adventure?

We would love to hear about your experiences… the good, the bad and the ugly.

In fact, email your holiday tales, together with a great picture to us by Friday 26th September and you will have the opportunity of winning:

  • First prize £200
  • Second prize £100
  • Third prize £50

For the best story.

Legendary travel life-styler Phillip Cooper will be judging your travel stories. Philip’s inventive working holidays have taken him around the world many times. He expanded his business making yurts in Southern Spain’s capital of kite-surfing to the beaches of Kerala. In addition he set up a charity to teach his Keralese employees how to kite surf.

So what are you waiting for?

Send your story to: info@teachweb.co.uk with the subject line ‘Travel Tales’.

Good luck!

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 teaching agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

teachweb raft raceLast weekend intrepid supply teaching recruitment consultant (me) led an audacious teachweb team into battle at the annual Lewes to Newhaven Raft Race.

Since its launch in 1975, this event hosted by The Lewes and District Round Table has raised in excess of £500,000 for local good causes.

Courageous race participants are awarded prizes for “Fastest Time”, “Most Devious Means” and “Best Decorated”.

It has to be said teachweb’s entry into the race was a last minute decision. However undaunted by the challenge of building a raft in a day, I believe I demonstrated dogged determination in my efforts to source:

• Skipped wood.
• Scaffolding batons.
• Chemical barrels.

And it has to be said, a flair for design when constructing my fine vessel.

In fact, shiver me timbers… indeed there lurks an inner DT teacher within me!

Once the teachweb raft was declared sea faring and the battle began, my heroic team was tested to its limits.

My team fought to remain steadfast as throughout the route merciless onlookers pelted us with flour and eggs.

At times paddling the raft felt like paddling a bus. Also due to the constant onslaught of eggs and flour, at all times we had to keep our wits about us to avoid ending up in Davy Jones’ locker!”

Despite our best efforts, as well as the help of a passing speedboat that kindly gave our unwavering team a tow… we finished last.

Yet we were delighted to complete the race in one piece. Furthermore taking part was a superb excuse for us to get together and we certainly enjoyed our celebratory grog.

In fact I enjoyed the event so much I would like to form a teachweb team for next year’s race.

Therefore…

  • Are you a daring teacher?
  • Do you have the design and technology skills we need to construct a raft able to cut through the water with ease and speed?
  • More importantly do you have the cunning to help us to win the prize for the “most devious means”?

Then we would love to hear from you.

2015 will mark the 40th anniversary of the Lewes to Newhaven Raft Race. Please do get in touch if you would like to take part.

Contact us for more information.

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 teaching agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

How supply teachers can master body language for successThey say your body communicates 55% of what you have to say in face-to-face interactions.  You don’t get much more face to face than when you are a supply teacher standing in front of thirty 11-16 year olds.

Therefore we thought supply teachers would benefit from 5 clever tips for using body language to command attention in a new classroom.

When I visit schools for sales purposes, the people in charge of cover sometimes tell me: “We can tell within 5 paces whether someone is going to sink or swim, or somewhere in between.”

  • So what is it that speaks so loudly about sinking and swimming?
  • Further more can we control it?

How to communicate confidence

When I was learning to teach, my mentor said: “When you speak don’t touch your face and don’t waggle your head about.”

She demonstrated these movements by acting them out. I was amazed how much difference they made. It almost made her look like someone else while she was speaking that way. Keeping your head still while speaking is something all authority figures practice.

How to stop looking anxious

Craning your head forwards makes you look anxious.  When you are next standing in a class, check your head is balanced vertically above your shoulders. The best way to do this is to discretely back up against a wall. If your head has a long way to go back, you are craning way forward and look anxious.

How to communicate your interest and attention

Be aware of your body language. Notice when your:

  • Fingers are drumming.
  • Legs are bouncing.
  • Hands are straightening clothes or tugging at an earlobe.

Know that these movements communicate to the people around you that a bit of you wants to be somewhere else… desperately.

How to communicate your authority

Stand straight up, with your chest open and keep your head still while talking. Gently move your gaze evenly around the room.

How to dress to impress

If you feel comfortable with the way you look and feel you will immediately exude confidence.

So take a glance at your clothes before you enter the classroom to reassure yourself that you have not got toothpaste on your chin, or your bed head hairstyle!

These tips should put you well on the path of giving you confidence and communicating control in the classroom in a short period of time.

Of course if you have any further tips, we would be delighted to hear them.

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 teaching agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

It’s a very sad coincidence that a week after we posted an article here, drawing attention to the number of editorial’s on student threats to teachers, Ann McGuire was stabbed to death in school.

I posted a comment last week on verbal and online threats made by students. I chose this topic because I knew that teachers in many of the state schools and academies would be able to relate – often a large number of times – supply teachers drawing a disproportionately large number of threats (and it is expected you’ll deal with them). I thought it would make common ground for a discussion in which many would be able to share experiences. I didn’t for one second think that, 4 days later, we’d be aware of this heinous event.

The inference of violence was always around when I taught, and sometimes exploded into actual violence between students – although this was the exception rather than the rule. I don’t think I ever witnessed this violence against teachers.

My teaching experience ended in 2009 but I have inferred that since then violent or otherwise poor behaviour is tolerated much less than is was between the mid 90’s and 2007.

This article from the Guardian includes graphs showing much the same numbers of declining rates of exclusions due to violence. http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/apr/29/ann-maguire-stabbing-how-common-is-violence-against-a-teacher

 

What do you think ? Are secondary schools and academies places where you always feel safe? Have you seen or heard about weapons being brought into school and has gang / intra pupil related violence ever spilled over into your classroom? Any comments welcome.