Top Ten Tips: A handy little guide to getting more supply teaching work
1. Contact schools in your area, that you’d like to work in: ask them if they’d be interested in seeing your CV. They may jump at the chance, and employ you directly, or they might tell you which agency they tend to call for supply and suggest you register with them. If they’re interested in seeing your CV, hand-deliver it for a golden opportunity to make a great first impression.
2. Call the agency they mentioned. If a school, or number of schools in your area, work with a different agency to the one you’re with, then join that one! It’s ok, and usual, to be with more than one agency.
3. If you want to register with more agencies, there are lots of places you can look to find them. I have a database of agencies here, a quick Google of ‘supply teacher recruitment agency in [your town]’ will bring back lots of results, or ask around.
4. Want recommendations? Although you can ask for them in the Supply Teacher Network, take them with a pinch of salt. That’s not to say don’t trust the members, but that we are all unique individuals with a different set of skills, requirements and experiences. One man’s meat is another man’s poison.
5. Before you make your final choice of agency, take a look at their Twitter feed, their Facebook page, their website, see if they’ve done a Takeover Thursday and have a review file in the Supply Teacher Network upload section, and you could even ask for a preliminary meeting. Lots of agencies will want to register you at your very first meeting, but you may want to visit a few, as you would do a school, get a feel for the staff, the office (is it convenient for you if you needed to pop in?) the general atmosphere and ask to take away some documentation. They could be your representatives on the phone etc. to the schools, you want to be confident that they will work for you as you wish them to.
6. Want a longer-term position? My Twitter feed is full of jobs, my LinkedIn feed is full of jobs, all agencies that I know are recruiting constantly! Again, take a look at social media, it’s probably the cheapest and easiest way for agencies to publish jobs. I often retweet from my list of agencies, so follow me too! There’s a promotions section in my LinkedIn group. Look at national jobs boards. It’s going to have a redesign soon, but I have a little jobs board here. Agencies often have a jobs feed on their own websites.
7. Email me! I get lots of messages from people asking about getting started with supply work, or getting more work, and can often put them in touch with someone I think they would like to work with. Please note, I do not get referral bonuses: often promised, never materialised!
8. With your agency, keep yourself front-of-mind with your consultants. Read my article on making the most of your education recruitment consultant. Your personal consultant is also personal consultant to many other supply teachers! Have conversations with them, if you can sing, let them know! If you can juggle, let them know! If next week you’re free on a day when you usually wouldn’t be, tell them, and tell them it’d be great to have it prebooked!
9. Treat every day on supply as an opportunity to shine. Let that school know that you’re fantastic, that you’ve had a great day, that you’d love to return. Show them that you’re a team player, a grafter, a sponge… Make sure that when they next want a supply teacher, they call for you!
10. Be yourself. Honestly, if you’re not yourself, you’ll fear that you’ll be ‘found out’, and probably will be. Teachers are natural actors, the more they can inspire and enthuse the children, the better the day will be, but don’t try and be something you’re not. If you want to be something else, i.e. better at behaviour management or more confident, then work on it. Be a reflective practitioner, identify your weaknesses, formulate an action plan, ask for help. Do not be afraid to ask your agency for help either. They will help arrange CPD for you: you are their ‘product’, and the better the product, the more sales they’ll get!