Are you thinking about getting into teaching? Before starting the process, you should know what life is like as a supply teacher. Why? Because, at some point, most teachers find themselves in this role. It might be that you are in between contractual teaching positions or that the flexibility of supply teaching suits your lifestyle. Either way, understanding a typical day can give you insight into the role and what will be expected of you.
Supply teaching - a typical day
One of the benefits of being a supply teacher is that no two days will be the same. Of course, a supply teaching role may lead to a more permanent position later down the line, but when you are a supply teacher, you could move from school to school each day, meeting new colleagues and pupils as you go.
Supply school teachers have consultants who will inform them daily if any work is available. Some schools can notify a few days in advance when they might need a supply teacher, but generally, the offers for work are very last minute to cover absenteeism due to sickness.
Because of this, most supply teachers are up early and prepared to head out to work if a call comes in. If your consultant calls, they'll give you a quick overview of the role, the school, and the pay. The more work you get as a supply teacher, the more you will get to know the schools in your surrounding area, and you can let your consultant know your preferred positions.
Once you have been told about the job, it's up to you to decide whether you would like to accept it. If you do, your consultant should send you written confirmation via email, which should also contain any additional information that might be useful, such as the school's behaviour policy and so on.
If you are required for the entire day, you'll need to leave to ensure you arrive before the school day starts. This is typically 8.30 am, though your consultant will let you know if this is different. Look at the school's website to get more of an idea about how they run and what's important to them.
On arrival at the school, supply teachers should be met with one of the administrative staff or a fellow teacher, who will give them a quick tour of the school and information regarding break times, lunch times, and any other necessary protocol. They will take you to the classroom and provide any relevant information about the class, the lesson plans to follow, and the resources.
Once the pupils arrive, a supply teacher will introduce themselves and then get to work delivering the lesson according to the lesson plan and using the resources provided. A primary school supply teacher may have to cover several different subjects during the day, whereas a secondary school supply teacher will only teach the subject they specialise in.
Usually, at around midday, schools break for lunch. Supply teachers can meet the other teachers in the school and make connections. It's also an excellent opportunity to assess how you feel about the school and the pupils, which can influence whether or not you'll accept work from them again!
More lessons will take place in the afternoon before saying goodbye to the pupils at the end of the day. The school day typically ends at 3.15 pm, though this can vary depending on the school. Supply teachers will be expected to help students get ready to go home. Since they will not be expected to do any marking or lesson preparation, they can also prepare to leave for the day too.
You can give your consultant a call or email to let them know how the day went and whether you'd like to work at the school again. If the school is pleased with how the day went, they will likely keep you in mind next time they need a supply teacher, which could lead to ongoing work.
Supply teaching can appeal to teachers who want to be in charge of their hours. While supply teaching means you do not have a contract or guaranteed work, it can be particularly appealing to those who wish to avoid getting burdened with lesson planning or marking and enjoy working in different environments and meeting new people.