There will inevitably be some time as a supply teacher when you will find yourself without work as you wait for your next placement. While this can be a cause for concern, especially with finances so stretched during the current cost of living crisis, downtime can be beneficial, not least to recharge the batteries and take some well-deserved time off. And as we go on to explore below, there are a number of things you can do, using your time to stay proactive and productive, as you look for your next supply teacher role. Here are some top tips…
Making the most of your time
While supply teaching has many benefits, in terms of the variety of work and the added flexibility, you will inevitably encounter days and weeks with no work on the horizon. The first thing to remember is not to get too down or despondent as these periods are fleeting – the work will come. It’s important to look after your mental health, so make sure you get plenty of fresh air, go for walks, connect with nature and use the time to do some of the things you’ve perhaps put off. Catch up with friends you haven’t seen and pursue other interests and hobbies that make you happy!
Also, remember that you are not alone. There are many networks out there that you can join across many different online and social media platforms, which provide a great forum to connect with other supply teachers in a similar situation to yours. You’ll be able to share your individual experiences and this will open up other avenues and opportunities that you haven’t perhaps even thought of. For example, you might consider offering private tutoring or working as a teaching assistant or afterschool supervisor – you’ll be surprised at the options open to you.
One area that you should never neglect is your continual professional development (CPD). As a supply teacher, it’s imperative that you keep your skills up to date and prioritise learning. And given that you may not have the opportunity to do so via work given the short-term nature of your school placement, you need to take the lead and stay on top of all aspects of teaching best practice. There are a number of courses and many different providers, many of them free. Whether expanding your subject matter knowledge or focusing more on pastoral topics and issues, learning never stops!
Prepare for your next supply teacher role
Given that many supply teaching opportunities can become available at short notice, make sure you have lesson plans ready to go. Although often these will be provided, there are no guarantees, so use the time off to ensure you have resources to use in the classroom, especially for numeracy and literacy, two key components of the curriculum. Having ideas for other subject areas too such as geography and history or art and design will also help. You will also be able to reflect on your past experiences and tweak what you’ve done before to further engage students.
Registering with reputable supply teacher agencies will significantly boost your chances of finding work. You’ll be able to build strong relationships with different establishments who will get to know you and want you back! These agencies will make sure that you’re carefully vetted and qualified and they’ll place you in roles that match your experience. Some will even be able to offer CPD courses. Be sure to keep your agency informed of your availability/preferences and respond to any communication.
There is much you can achieve during these periods when you’re in between work (you may have consciously decided to take a break). As difficult as they may sometimes be, taking a breather allows you to rest and take care of yourself, which often gets overlooked. There are many things you can do to make the best use of the time, from networking with peers and continuing your professional development to preparing for your next exciting challenge, which will arrive before you know it!
Here are our top FIVE things to focus on:
- Prioritise your wellbeing – spend time on what you enjoy
- Join relevant networks and connect with your peers
- Keep on top of learning to plug any knowledge gaps
- Build relationships with specialist supply teacher agencies
- Be prepared – your next role will creep up on you fast!
If you’re a supply teacher in search of your next role, give us a call.