It can be tough getting noticed by an executive of a school.
Everyone tells you; you need to speak to the Principal, Deputy or the person in charge of HR. This can be tough when often they are so busy and especially when the admin staff can be staunch gatekeepers. But here I have compiled some insiders’ tips from feedback received from numerous executives and administrative staff as to what they do (and don’t) look for in their supply staff.
To start off, you need to be keen and friendly, drop a resume off in person and ask to speak to the person in charge of organising staff. You may not get a chance to but it is definitely worth asking to try and make a great first impression.
Things mentioned that tend to help a teacher stand out once you have a day at a school are to have a positive personality, friendly approach and the ability to get along with other staff members. Positive feedback from other staff members is a critical part of getting repeat work. Word travels fast so if the neighbouring teacher or teacher aide can see that you have the class under control and working well then there is a huge chance you will get a callback, just as negative feedback may ensure that unfortunately, you may not get repeat work.
The most prevalent trait that admin prefer in their casual staff is to be flexible and prepared for any unexpected changes. There was a general consensus that having a willingness to do any class, year level or subject will help your chances of getting a callback and even expanding your preferences to include Special Education will benefit you greatly. One executive in Special Ed quoted “We love new blood and it can be invaluable professional experience”. There are so many changes that can happen in a day- you arrive and are asked to teach PE instead of Year 2, the internet is down so all the teacher’s lesson plans aren’t available to you, you have to teach a grade out of your comfort zone whilst the class has non-contact time- all scenarios that often happens in this role. Being willing (even if you are nervous) and prepared with work on hand, ready for any grade or subject will help give you the competitive edge.
Admin also reported that teachers that return messages as soon as possible, even if to say they are unavailable, are often chosen time and again. One executive stated “They are the people I will try first over someone who replies later in the day that they already have work. Because I know I’ll get a quick reply, they are the casual staff I contact again and again and sometimes it might be the 20th attempt before I can book them, but at that point they’ve already shown they are keen and understand the time crunch of getting classes covered for the day. Some of these same staff are now long-term permanent colleagues who got their foot in the door this way.” So it pays to be prompt.
Keeping in touch with schools to let them know your availability will help keep you top of mind for future work. The fact that your email or text message might be the last opened when they need to fill a job can be the break you need to get you more work. Showing an interest in the school and coming to the staff room during breaks to introduce yourself to staff will get you some brownie points, as well as volunteering, can all help you to get noticed and get you more work.
Some key points highlighted that will NOT get the call back are staff that are difficult, unprofessional, not prepared and late to class or duties. Expecting absent teachers to leave work, being on the phone in the classroom or on duty and having no control over the class were also key attributes mentioned.
If you are having trouble getting consistent work at a school, ask for feedback. There may be something you are doing that you are unaware of or perhaps there is an area that you can improve on. The truth can be hard to hear sometimes, but if you are struggling to get work or can’t secure contracts it may be time to reach out and ask for some advice on what you can do to get more work.
I hope these tips from the people “above” have helped give you some insight as to what and what not to do to get your foot in the door and get more work.