Becoming a supply teacher or a supply teaching assistant is a route many full-time teachers take at some point in their careers. It comes with its own share of obstacles, certainly, but in the long run it’s a great way to secure a degree of greater control over your career, while offering more flexibility than most positions in the education sector.
Supply teaching gives you an opportunity to organise your own work schedule and experience a wider variety of teaching situations and schools. In many cases, supply teacher jobs come with the added benefit of requiring less after-school paperwork and planning. While that might sound appealing to some, there is often a sense of uncertainty for many aspiring teachers willing to jump into any teaching jobs out there.
There are several things you should consider before applying for teaching jobs, whether you are already experienced in education or new to the profession. Supply teaching is no easy task, and despite some of the perks that come with the profession, it still isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.
Here are some key pieces of advice for supply teachers:
This is arguably the most important step to take before you’ve even begun to apply for any supply teaching role. Being thrown in at the deep end is not an ideal situation to be put in, hence why researching all schools and ensuring you have the right skills applicable to any role is vital. There’s a good chance you won’t be able to secure a role at your dream school, so you have to account for all types of opportunities. Identify the right skills you will need for a supply teaching position in a school that will fit your needs, and identifying the levels of potentially challenging behaviour you’ll be able to deal with comfortably. Plan meticulously so you can manage your expectations accordingly.
2. Be confident
Prospective supply teachers are always expected to show devoted confidence in their abilities, and an evident passion in pursuing a career in education. Confidence needs to shine through when supervising and monitoring pupils’ behaviour, dealing with any immediate issues that arise and handling them appropriately, answering questions, collecting work and giving feedback. If you aren’t confident that supply teaching is the right career path for you, it will show. You need to prove to yourself most of all, as well as other staff and pupils that it is what you want to do.
3. Be flexible
One other valuable piece of supply teaching advice is to be as flexible as possible. Being a substitute teacher means you can take annual leave as you wish, take time out for other commitments and choose as and when you work, and how often. This is a huge benefit for those with children of their own as it gives them more control over arranging childcare. It helps to have a positive attitude to taking on last-minute positions that become available, as this could increase your chances of more regular work… if that’s what you’re after.
This is a general rule of thumb that earns supply teachers large amounts of trust from pupils and other members of staff. Those who can communicate well in lessons is one of the many reasons why several experienced supply teachers go on to have very successful careers in education. One of supply teaching’s many benefits is that teachers get to experience a variety of teaching opportunities, with children of all ages, backgrounds, learning abilities and other staff members from all walks of life. Being a strong communicator will earn you more connections, and being completely transparent about your desire and ambition to teach will help open doors for you professionally, as you get further into your teaching career.
5. Find the right agency
There are a wide range of supply teaching agencies, but the trick is finding a consultant within an organisation that you trust and find comfortable to work with. A great education agency will not only be able to source you work, but will be wholeheartedly supportive to you as well. This is particularly important for aspiring supply teaching assistants whose desire is to feel reassured and encouraged by an agency who cares for their workers. You can get a better understanding of more suitable education recruitment agencies if they come highly recommended by experienced teachers.
Making best practice of these five keys to supply teaching is recommended in any type of situation you find yourself. Whether you are making your first strides into becoming a teacher, or whether you have many years of teaching behind you, demonstrating the ability to communicate confidently, flexibility, and a willingness to take on any challenge will ensure you are maximising your potential in getting into supply teaching.
Always Flourishing have built a solid reputation of consistent supply teacher recruitment across the Home Counties and Thames Valley. We recruit for a variety of teaching roles and leadership positions on a supply basis, but are not limited to this. We also seek to recruit prospective teachers and support staff in contract and permanent roles as well.
For more information, and should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us via our contact form.