One of the most important aspects for supply teachers to focus on is to ensure that their skills are continually updated and that they receive the right ongoing professional development. Supply teachers may not always benefit from the training that teachers in permanent roles get, which is why career development must not be overlooked. Gaining supply teaching experience will help with teaching styles and adapting to different classroom challenges but there are also a number of other skills and courses that professionals in these roles ought to consider to boost their employability.
Let’s start with some of those core competencies needed to succeed in supply teaching roles. We all know that patience is a virtue and this is particularly true in the education sector. Keeping calm under stressful situations is an absolute must, given that students may ‘try it on’ with supply teachers and manifest those unruly behaviours that they wouldn’t normally consider with their usual teachers. Experience of classroom management plays a big part here and the fact that supply specialists experience different scenarios and pupils will help. But still, they must always retain a firm but calm demeanour.
This brings us neatly on to resilience and, again, being able to deal with different challenges. No two days are ever the same in education, as teachers will often tell you. It’s not just about strategies to quell disruptive behaviour, but also the myriad of other challenges that might arise, such as helping those students with learning and attention difficulties or the many other issues they may be facing. While handling these situations requires mental and emotional strength, it is imperative that supply teachers also look after their own wellbeing, as the stress can mount and lead to burnout.
Flexibility is also a key requirement and benefit of the role. On the one hand, the freedom to dictate when they work attracts them to supply teaching in the first place, allowing them to focus on work-life balance. But equally, they need to be open to opportunities as they arise. This will help build their reputation with a view to being called back by the school with the potential for a long-term placement. There is another aspect to flexibility: adapting to different schools and classroom settings, which, for example, means having pre-prepared lesson plans ready to use.
Another fundamental skill is rapport building, particularly with students but also with other staff members. There are different strategies that can help but clearly strong communication skills are imperative to succeed. Students need to know they are being listened to and also included. Supply teachers must talk to their pupils to make sure that they are using the right and most effective learning methods for everyone. Communicating with other teachers is also important, for example when lesson plans are handed over to ensure that they have understood the requirements.
Learning and development a key priority for supply teachers
As well as having a talent for other soft or interpersonal skills such as being highly organised, self-motivated and demonstrating a passion for teaching, supply teachers must also focus on their personal development. Ensuring that they attend any relevant training or courses is an absolute must as, otherwise, they will have gaps in their own knowledge which could be exposed. Examples might include learning about special education needs (SEN), gender identity in children and young people, internet safety, bullying (physical, verbal and cyber) and associated mental health topics.
This type of training might only be offered to permanent staff, which is why supply teachers must invest in their own upskilling and update their continuing professional development (CPD). If partnering with a reputable specialist education recruitment company, supply teachers should always check to see what they provide in terms of learning resources. Whether it be new ways of teaching or curriculum changes, they must keep abreast of all developments and teaching standards. Here, for example, at The Supply Register, we have joined forces with The National College to deliver a brand new training package available to all candidates.
The National College is the streaming home for high-quality professional development in education. Through our partnership, our candidates will be able to access a broad range of online statutory learning opportunities to strengthen their professional development. When candidates register with us, they are automatically set up to complete all the necessary courses to ensure they are compliant.
This partnership will help to underline the fact that, whether in the physical classroom with students or upskilling in the e-classroom, the learning curve must never stop for supply teachers. Career development is a must and they must demonstrate the requisite knowledge expected of permanent teachers in schools and multi-academy trusts (MATs).
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