By Sharon Wood
Much of the stress for supply teachers begins before they reach the classroom. In this series of articles looking at top tips for supply teaching, we look at practical ways to reduce this stress.
We all know it. Children are like cats and dogs: if they sense that you’re uncomfortable (and they’re very good at sensing that!) they will play on it. Confidence in the classroom is an imperative part to a supply teacher’s survival kit. But it’s not just in the classroom that it’s a necessity, confidence is much needed in up to 5 new staff rooms a week, with new sets of parents, with new TAs and when talking with your agency’s consultant.
I can’t think of a worse place than inside a classroom with 36 new children to hope to start to build up your own confidence. For some, it’s a great training ground, but for others, it can mean make or break. If you want an easier ride, strike up a conversation with a stranger out of school. Try it today… Try it in the supermarket, the library, in the playground when picking your own children up. Having to talk to strangers comes with the territory, so take every opportunity to build up your confidence in doing this outside the classroom. Much less pressure than doing it when you’re in school. Practice, and you will find staff rooms feel more welcoming.
Be prepared – the night before! You’ll have a much better night’s sleep if you know your clothes are ready, you have food ready to go, directions, and some ‘no resources needed’ time fillers. Make sure however, that you go to bed at a sensible time and don’t spend all night creating a wonderful resource for the next day just in case!
Time managements skills are key. If you’re late, or know that you’re going to be late, you’ll get flustered. If you’re all flustered, you won’t have the time or the mindset to internalise all the information you need, or to ask all the questions you want to ask. Work out what time you need to leave, print out directions to the school and in your head work through how you’re going to get there and where you may park / disembark the bus etc. If you don’t know the school, have you time to do a trial run through to it? Or ask your agency, someone will have visited it and be able to give you information. Take a notepad and on the first page have a list of the questions you want to ask on arrival. These might be something like:
Where is the fire exit for this classroom? Where is the assembly point?
What is the behaviour policy and mark scheme for the school?
Where are the staff facilities?
What time is assembly and where is it held?
Dress for confidence. This doesn’t necessarily mean power suits, especially with the younger children! What do you feel comfortable and confident teaching in? Think practical yet smart. Also think layers – school heating systems can be awkward souls, and in the warmer months there is nowhere more stuffy than a classroom!