Feel Like a Phoney? 4 Steps to Cure the First Supply Day Jitters

by | Feb 22, 2021 | Blog | 1 comment

Have you been lucky enough to get the call up this term?
The longer it takes to get your first day teaching, the more nervous and anxious you get about it. You start wondering if you will know what to do, how and what to teach. You feel like a phoney and that everyone will know how nervous and incompetent you feel you are. Whether you’re coming back from maternity leave, returning from an extended holiday or you are fresh meat straight out of uni, we all have that ‘pit in your stomach’, ‘heart racing when the phone rings’, ‘lump in your throat’ worries in common.

Don’t panic. You are not alone, but here to save you are my 4 Steps to Cure the First Supply Day Jitters to help you feel a little more at ease with those first day nerves.

 STEP 1: Get Organised

  • Have your bag packed the night before. Resources, hat, water bottle, whistle, pens, pencils, usb, paper, stamp/stickers, dice and hacky sack are my basic essentials.
  • Have resources ready for all age groups as plans can change once you get to the school. Teacher for a Day is the perfect all in one resource book for all Primary Grades.
  • Get dressed and pack your lunch even if you haven’t had a call. I’ve had calls after school has started so you need to be ready to jump in the car at any time.

STEP 2: Before School Starts

  • Get to school as early as possible to orientate yourself.
  •  Check the teacher’s desk for a plan or look for weekly outlines on the board or wall to give you an idea of their routine. The more you stick to the usual, the better.
  • Go and speak to the neighbouring teachers to ask about the class, and ask if your teacher sent through a plan if it wasn’t already on the desk. It is a great way to introduce yourself and to start building rapport in a school.
  • Get the computer working ASAP if you can access one. They can be a lifesaver at times.
  • Google “Interactive _______________” whatever you are learning to use as an intro or an ending to a lesson to help engage the class in the content. Have these ready to go if you have time.
  • Check the student’s desks to see what books they have that you could work out of.
  • If you have time, write up a rough seating plan and write down names from their desk or write down during the roll or as you meet them.

STEP 3: Class Time

  • Don’t panic. Take a deep breath and FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT. Everyone is winging it at some time or other and the students will have no idea if you’ve taught 1 day or 1 000 days.
  • Teacher presence is everything. Stand tall, speak confidently, keep your expectations high and the rest will fall into place.
  • Behaviour Management is a huge part of our role. Students are going to test the boundaries a lot. Stay firm, consistent and follow through. Make sure they know you mean business and that you know what is going on. Here are some behaviour strategies I always come armed with.
  • Get guidance from your students regarding the norms of the class and school but remember that often you will get different answers as to ‘what book you usually write in’ or ‘who is or isn’t allowed to sit next to Noah.’ If you don’t get a general consensus, quickly make an executive decision yourself. Always remain the one in charge.
  • Don’t let them know that you have no idea what you are going to do next, let alone for the whole day. Play the “we will have to see how your behaviour is as to what we will do next.”
  • Have some stickers, stamps or fun games and activities up your sleeve for just before breaks. It’s amazing how much better kids will work for the chance of a sticker or a quick game. You’ll find my favourite go-to games and time-fillers here.
  • Follow the plan as best you can, but don’t stress if you don’t get all the work done, teachers often leave too much on purpose.
  • Always have a fun book on hand that can be read for both enjoyment and activity opportunities. My favourite Fiction books can be found here.
  • Have fun with the kids. All the marking and data doesn’t fall on your shoulders so appreciate the luxury teaching role we have, enjoy and connect with the kids.

STEP 4: After School

  • Leave a detailed note for the teacher of what you did and didn’t cover, what you marked and any messages or behaviour issues. Be honest but make sure you stick with more positive notes.
  • Leave the classroom tidy. Make sure you get the kids to help do this before they leave.
  • Turn off computers, IWB and lights and be sure to lock windows and doors.
  • Thank the neighbouring teacher for any assistance they gave you.
  • When you are checking out at the office, be sure to give a positive recount of your day. If you complain about having a nightmare day, it can sometimes reflect on your ability, so best to say “I had a great day today,” and leave it at that.

If you are really struggling with the thought of your first day teaching, I would suggest volunteering at a school. The more time you have in front of the students, the more comfortable and confident you will feel. It can also be a great way to get work. With time, your nerves will disappear but until then, try to be as organised as possible so you can at least minimise your anxiety a little.

Good luck.


P.S. If you are still struggling to get work, you can get a FREE Cheat Sheet to Get More Supply Teaching Work when you Subscribe @ teacherforaday.com 🙂

1 Comment

  1. Helen

    I really appreciate all your tips!


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