Simple steps to make your supply teaching day run smoothly

by | Feb 7, 2022 | Blog | 3 comments

1. Arrive early to orientate yourself with the school, classroom and daily plan.

2. If there is a plan, try your best to stick to it and mark the work you feel confident to mark by the end of the day (assessment etc can be a bit trickier). Make sure you mark any work that you set.

3. If there is no plan left in sight, check the room for a timetable and ask a neighbouring teacher for any ideas on what the students have been learning which not only helps you to keep the kids in a familiar routine but also gets you acquainted with other teachers (which can help you get more work at the school).

4.  Have a look at what books the students have to see any workbooks you can work directly from eg. Maths, English, Handwriting. Also look at their previous work to see what level they are working at and what content they are covering. 

5. For when there is no plan, make sure you have lessons pre-planned, particularly ones that don’t need photocopying, technology or resources as you never know what you will get access to. Have a range of activities for all ages, covering at least Maths and Literacy with some Art for the end the day. It’s also a great idea to have some fun time-fillers on hand. Check out this all-in-one resource that needs no prep or tech that will have you covered with everything you need!

6. Try your best to learn the students’ names. This will help you build rapport, call on students when needed and make for an easier day all round. Name tags or names on a seating plan is a great way to learn them quickly. 

7. For younger students get them to tell you their class rules and behaviour management system. For all students reiterate that just because there’s a different teacher and you might do some things differently it doesn’t mean the rules change. Set firm boundaries but remember to have a little fun. Here are some tips on behaviour management specifically for supply teachers that you won’t want to miss!

8. Gauge early on (or ask other teachers) whether it is a challenging class and implement some other behaviour management techniques. Here are some suggestions.

9. Try to do whole class activities unless it is a routine group activity set by the teacher. It will help keep the class in order.

10. Introduce yourself to administration staff and teachers and go to the staffroom at break times if you can. The more familiar other staff are with you the more likely they will request you for work.

11. Make sure you have a hat, whistle and appropriate shoes for all terrain. You never know what lunch duty you might be put on.

12. Leave a tidy classroom and a note for the teacher at the end of the day stating the work you have covered and marked, class behaviour and any issues. Make sure you leave your details or a business card so that the teacher can request you at a later date. These notepads are the perfect layout to help you communicated efficiently with the teacher and to stand out from the crowd and get the call back.

13. Check in with admin when you leave. Remember to err on the positive side when you give them feedback about your day. 

14. Have fun! Revel in the fact you are only there for the day and enjoy what you got into this profession for- teaching, without all the responsibility and workload of a full-time teacher!

Some days will be great, other days will make you question your profession. But remember the day will end, eventually, and tomorrow you might get a fabulous class to restore your faith in teaching!


  1. Lynda

    It was strange how often it was my turn for playground duty when I was on supply (30 years ago). They stopped doing it when I challenged them about it.

    • Vera

      Always carry a box of presharpened pencils , blank papers, lined paper, a deck of cards…. Stickers and small prizes like erasers, sharpeners, colouring sheets (even a colouring book of some sort) and a story to read … if needed.

  2. T

    At what point when you are personally insulted do you say enough is enough

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