There are many reasons why teachers choose to engage in relief teaching roles. Sometimes referred to as casual teachers or supply teachers, relief teachers have the flexibility to work around personal commitments and can experience a diverse range of school and classroom settings. These benefits, amongst others, see that relief teaching can be a very satisfying and rewarding way to teach.
Like any teaching role, casual relief teaching is made easier through preparation. Here are some tips to help you get organised for a day of supply.
1. Dress professionally and bring lunch
Wear appropriate clothing, comfortable footwear and a watch, and bring a wide brimmed hat. Pack a playground duty-friendly lunch and your water bottle. This will help ensure you’re ready for anything that comes your way!
2. Arrive early to collect important documents and keys
When starting supply at a new school, arrive as early as possible and ask for copies of any documents or policies you may need. These include the school’s behaviour management plan, a map of the school, playground duty roster and a list of relevant names and phone numbers you may need throughout the day (such as the Principal, Deputy Principals, Heads of Curriculum and Heads of Departments).
Collect any keys you will need for the classrooms and other learning spaces you’ll be accessing during the day.
3. Bring some of your own resources
Sometimes you may need to supervise a class without having been provided with a class program or plan for the day. It’s of great benefit to prepare a few folders of resources and keep them in your car.
Prepare folders with a few literacy and numeracy activities and games for lower, middle and upper students. Word searches, Sudoku puzzles and whole class active games are great additions to a relief teaching kit and can work well with both primary and secondary students.
It’s also a good idea to bring some basic stationery items with you such as whiteboard markers and an eraser, pens, correction tape, pencils, erasers, stickers and sticky notes.
4. Be positive and build rapport with staff and students
Make the effort to remember student names as quickly as possible. One great way to help achieve this is to draw a rough map of the classroom layout at the beginning of the day or the beginning of each lesson, and make a note of who is sitting at each desk as you mark the roll.
Don’t be afraid to ask other staff members for clarification when you need. They will be happy to hear you are keen to ensure school expectations and processes are met.
5. Communicate your expectations for work and behaviour
Be clear about your expectations for student work and behaviour. Taking the time to understand the school’s behaviour management processes before class begins will ensure you can quickly establish that you expect the same from students as their regular class teacher.
6. Keep an accurate record of the day
Make notes about the work students complete and any other relevant happenings. This may include noting any student work that was collected and briefly detailing any positive and any challenging student behaviour.
7. Tidy up before you leave
Ensure students tidy up their desks and work stations before leaving the classroom. Put back any items you may have used throughout the day. Don’t forget to lock any windows and doors.
8. Be flexible and responsive to all that the day may bring
Relief teaching is a dynamic and exciting way to contribute to the school communities you work in. As a casual teacher, you form an integral part of school staffing.
For more information about working as a supply teacher in Queensland state schools, visit Supply Teachers on the Department of Education website.