The demands of being a supply teacher are constant and challenging. You arrive at new schools and attempt to learn new names and faces each day. The effort you exert and the strategies employed will often dictate whether you are given a future return call.
So, how can you ensure that you leave a lasting impression with both students and teachers?
Be responsible. The office will often give you the essential items – key, schedules, emergency procedures, day plans – but it is also important to introduce yourself to the classroom teacher next door, department or division leader. These are the people that you can count on for advice or answers when you need them.
Familiarize yourself with the day plan and do your best to follow it. Find the seating chart, and if one hasn’t been left, have one made by one of the “helpful” students in the room.
Be sincere. Start your day by greeting students at the door. Introduce yourself – and smile when you do it. Use an ice-breaker to allow students to learn something about you – much more effective than just your name on the blackboard in chalk!
Circulate and show interest in what the students are doing. Ask if help is needed during seat work tasks or start conversations with the students one-on-one about how their year is going so far or what interests they have.
Be flexible. While there is a plan in place for the day, recognize that sometimes you will need to make adjustments based on student need and how the day is going. More time for some activities will be warranted and necessary – don’t be afraid to make changes as long as you leave the details in your end-of-day note.
Find a small chunk of time that you can use as a ‘preferred activity’. This will go a long way in helping with classroom management and building a rapport with the class.
Leave a lasting impression. Make sure that you leave a note. It allows the returning teacher to understand, not only how the day was, but also how to follow up with the students (with rewards or consequences). No matter how much of your news is bad news, try to find one positive thing to relate. Remember to be honest and confident in what you have accomplished.
If you have made a genuine attempt to connect with the students and follow the plan – word will travel around the staff about your success. Make sure your leave a business card so that everyone knows how to contact you for the next time.
What is your most effective way to connect with students as a supply teacher? What creative methods do you use to help with classroom management?
During Neilʼs 9 years of teaching experience, he has taught in London, England; Ontario; public and private schools; elementary and secondary; junior; intermediate; core french; developmental skills; and now junior gifted (grades 4,5,6). He is a Reading Specialist that has been incorporating technology in his practice consistently throughout his career. Neil has recently published his first book entitled “Ignite. Incite. Inspire.” – Examining 21st Century Issues in Education, which is a collection of teaching articles and posts written from January to December 2011.