Supply teaching: winning repeat business

Smile – it’s free
An easy way to stand out is to smile. Unlike a lot of the regular teachers who are already jaded by ongoing school issues, a supply teacher can breeze in like a breath of fresh air. Headteachers at primaries, especially, notice and say they like the fact that some supply teachers smile.

Take a map
Teachers who are late will not be asked back. A surprisingly high number of teachers set off without an A-Z of the city or clear directions of where they’re going. It’s not uncommon for agents to guide their supply teachers on mobile phones the last half mile using Google Maps.

Volunteer for playground duty
Check whether it’s appropriate first, as some schools have a rota of teachers. It’s an especially good way of getting known and is popular at primary schools where children readily tell parents and teachers about the nice new supply teacher. If you have a free period, don’t leave the school premises but ask if there’s anything you can do: it’ll go down well.

Leave a note
It’s a really small thing but can make a big difference to the returning teacher, who may find the break in continuity unsettling. Leave a note at the end of the day, detailing the work done, where you are up to in set work, any incidents, whether books were marked, and if so, where they’ve been put. For secondary school teachers, this will mean more notes, one at the end of each lesson. Even a brief sign-off saying either that a lesson went smoothly or naming the miscreant pupil(s), is useful information to a returning teacher.

Say goodbye
…and thank whoever’s been looking out for you during the day. Some larger schools have a dedicated supply supervisor who does this, or it may be a parallel classroom teacher who sits next door and is on hand for your queries. If you’ve had a good day, tell them - schools enjoy getting positive feedback, too - and say you’d love to be rebooked.

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