Mad Skillz: Simone on supply teaching

Simone is married to Andrew. Together they are my boss. Kind of. In that I am currently a student minister at their church. At the moment I feel like Hebrew is my master.

Simone writes songs of goodness and blogs deeply and often at Another Something. When I first started blogging I had a template that featured white text on black. Simone told me it was too hard to read. I changed it. She stopped reading. She started again a while back.

When Simone is not writing songs, children’s material or soppy poems to her husband she is a supply teacher. Here’s what she has to say about Supply teaching.

I have one of the best jobs in the world. A job that makes me a nice pocketful of money, that is strictly school hours, and gives me the flexibility to work or not to work on any particular day. On top of this, it (often) takes little emotional energy, gives me the chance to contribute something nice to the world, and is (mostly) fun.

I am a supply teacher. I’ve been supplying for over two years now, and I’ve developed some mad skilz in my area. Let me share.

My top 5 tips for being a good supply teacher

  1. Don’t be a nuisance to the school. Schools are busy places. Get in there and do your job. Take responsibility for your kids and try to have things run as smoothly as they would if the teacher you’re replacing was there. And don’t whinge if you have to do an extra playground duty. You are getting paid more than any other staff member and really have nothing else to do. Leave the classroom tidy.
  2. Make the kids come into the room well. Have them line up over and over again if you need to. Once they are quiet, move to number 3.
  3. Bribe the kids with fun and semi-educational activities. At the start of the day, write all your incentive activities on the board. Tell the kids that you’d love this to be a great day and if they get through their work, they’ll get to do some of these fun things. Promise them obstacles courses outside, sport, art, anything – but be positive. With you there, there is the opportunity for an unusually excellent day. (If I have to teach a P-3 class, I take in a piece of ‘lovely lycra’ and a few teddies. There is almost nothing younger kids won’t do for you if you promise them a chance to bounce bears on a trampoline! Make them count in 2s or 3s while you bounce the teddies and it becomes a maths game!)
  4. If the teacher leaves you no work, be thankful! You have 5 hours to teach the kids whatever you want. Pull out your favourite stories (Roald Dahl is always good), read to them for a very long time, then make up some creative writing or art or maths or SOSE activities around your reading. Play with character transformations (‘If the enormous crocodile was a person, what would he look like? What would he do?) or points of view (re-write parts of ‘the Enormous Crocodile’ in a voice sympathetic to the EC). Turn it into a comic, with or without text. Make up maths word problems based on the story. Research the diet of crocodiles… Endless options, and they all take little or no preparation. If you are not tied to any program, you are free! Make the most of it! (If work is left, do it! And thank the teacher.)
  5. Show the kids that you like them. This goes a long way. (If they are not very likeable, this one will be hard. But try.)

And finally, don’t stress. Whatever happens, it will all be over at 3 o’clock.

3 thoughts on “Mad Skillz: Simone on supply teaching”

  1. try it in London and see how well it goes then ;-)
    I do like your list though very good advice – I particularly like the ending :-)
    Hope you continue to have fun, stress-free supply teaching!

  2. I've heard London is a nightmare!

    I've got a pretty good gig at the moment. A few schools where the kids know and like me. There are another couple of schools where the positive thing just doesn't work. If everyone gets out alive, then I count it as a good day.

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