We need to change the perception of supply teaching. A re-brand if you will. In a climate where teacher levels are low, supply teachers are the heroes that can get a department out of a bind at very short notice! Supply also has a reputation for being a back-up in case the worst happens but it has its merits and it’s certainly not the last resort! Here are a few reasons why supply teaching might be for you!
Test the Water
Supply teaching gives you the unique opportunity to get a good idea of the climate in a number of schools and experience them in a way that a newly appointed, permanent teacher won’t. Use this to your advantage later should you choose to apply for a permanent position. An experienced supply teacher with a good knowledge of local schools should know exactly what sort of school is worth applying for and which schools to avoid.
Flexibility is one of the immediate perks that come to mind when we think of supply – you can set your own days and it means that your job works around you, not the other way around. If you’re a new parent, retired, seeking other opportunities or studying postgrad, supply allows you to keep your foot in the door. Of course, there’s also less paperwork, a better work-life balance and the sociable working hours if you’re on short-term supply too.
Broaden Your Subject Knowledge
Many supply agencies will ask what you’re willing to teach. If the thought of leading an art class as an English specialist terrifies you, perhaps put the paintbrushes down. As a fan of history, however, (and knowing full well that there are excellent resources out there) I’d have jumped at the chance to teach more of it even as an English specialist. So, use supply teaching to broaden your own subject knowledge and perhaps find a passion for another subject or a different key stage. If you dare.
It’s no secret that behaviour management is tough as a supply teacher. Even the loveliest classes try it on when they see a new face walk through the door. Work on stamping out the trickiest behaviour as soon as you enter the classroom and try out new approaches, watch other teachers and work toward broadening your repertoire of behaviour management approaches in a number of different schools.
So there we have it: four reasons why supply teaching is great! What do you think? Do you do supply? Why? Why not? Let us know!