Supply teaching tips

Ready, set, work

Once you have received your booking from Teach Agency, make sure that the lessons you are about to lead have been planned, and that you don’t need to bring your own planning. This is more likely to happen with a primary school; secondary schools usually have planning in place for an absent teacher.

First impressions count

Successful supply teaching often hinges on getting on well with people, as well as doing an excellent job. Create great contacts as soon as you arrive, with a smile and a positive attitude – and make sure you tell whoever books you in which agency you are from. This means they will know who to contact if they wish to book you again.

Beat the clock

It sounds simple, but make sure you are punctual. The south of England is a very, very busy part of the world, and traffic during rush hour, especially around towns and cities, can be challenging. Make sure you know where you’re going and leave yourself plenty of time to complete the journey, turning up ten to fifteen minutes early if you can.

Ask about the school procedures

Every school has different ways of doing things, especially when it comes to classroom discipline. Ask the contact when you arrive what their procedures are as they may have a different way of doing things compared to the last school you went to. Many schools now have a supply teaching / cover hand book or folder which they will give to you upon arrival. Make sure you read through this and follow the school’s guidelines.

Free periods

It may be that there are free periods in the timetable you’ve been given. But supply teachers are paid to teach all day, so you’ll make a much better impression – and will be far more likely to get re-booked – if you seek out your cover supervisor and ask if there are any other lessons you can cover during any free time.

Marking your work

If you’ve been booked by an infant / primary school, you’ll be expected to do the day’s marking. Make sure you save it until the end of the day, so you aren’t using up teaching time, and be sure to make extra notes about any particularly good or bad behaviour to pass to the class teacher. Teaching assistants make a particularly useful resource, as they have a clear and thorough knowledge of classroom life. Use this to your advantage!

Teach Teach Teach

Much of the pleasure of supply teaching is found in getting to simply teach, rather than worrying about tests and targets. Remember to make the most of that – you’ll enjoy your day far more if you deliver stimulating, thoughtful lessons rather than handing out worksheets and letting the class get on with it. You’re far more likely to be re-booked, too.

Checking out

Once it is time to leave, make sure you check out with your cover supervisor. This is an ideal time to let them know how much you’ve enjoyed your time at the school, and whether or not you are free the following day if they still need cover. If you would be happy to work at the school again, let them know!

Cover manager

One of the best ways to get re booked at that school, is to find the person in charge of booking supply at the end of the day and tell them how much you enjoyed the day and that you are free tomorrow if they wish to use you again. This is sometimes the reminder the contact at the school needs to book you back in for the next day. If they do not need you, say that you would be more than happy to come back at another time. Once again first and last impressions really do count.

Getting the basics right

There are two key things that will really light a fire under your supply teaching career: good classroom management, and staying in touch. If you can encourage great behaviour and learning in your children, then you will certainly be asked back by their school – this means you need to be easy to contact so your agency can re-book you! Keep your phone on silent during lessons, of course, but make sure we can get in touch easily outside of school hours with further bookings.

If you are a supply teacher and you would like to add some supply teaching tips, please feel free to add a comment below.

Our experts

Primary schools


Emma Munn

Secondary schools


Ross Davies

“My day is usually quite hectic, but I wouldn’t change it for the world” Sarah – Bedford

About us

We’re a specialist education supply teaching agency situated on the border of Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire. We are always on the look out for fantastic teachers to register with us for local teaching work. Call today on 01223 654299

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