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Extremely worried! Please help!

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  • Extremely worried! Please help!

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm so glad I found this site, it looks like it could be of great help.

    I am a newly qualified teacher from Canada and have never supply taught before. I have never even set foot in a UK classroom before, so I am feeling extremely overwhelmed by this. I start supply teaching this week, and I do not feel ready or prepared. I don't know what to expect, only that I hear that behaviour management is the number one concern of teachers here, and that it is MUCH different than in Canada, in that at home the children are much more respectful of teachers.

    Here are some questions I would appreciate your help with:

    1. What is the best way to introduce yourself?

    2. Is it better to do an icebreaker? Say tell them about Canada, read them a book about canada I brought over, etc etc. OR go straight into their normal routines?

    3. What do I do if they just do not listen? I've had kids during my practicum just walk right out of the class before, what do I do if that happens here?

    4. What are the best ways to get primary kids to listen, focus, do their work, behave, etc?

    5. If I have to do playground duty, is it normally on your own, and what happens if a fight occurs between students I do not know? What are some ways to defuse the situation and get them to listen and stop what they are doing.

    Any other tips or suggestions or just general expectations of what I should expect on the first day would be extremely helpful.



  • #2

    Hey Meg,

    I was in a similar situation just a few weeks ago. I am an NQT and had to start supply work...I just didn't feel ready. However, I am pleased to tell you that it is going really well and I feel that I have developed as a teacher already.

    1 - I say good morning to the children and gave them a few minutes to get themselves sorted...then I give clear instructions about what I want them to do (very quickly come and sit on the carpet ready for the register etc). Then I introduce myself and tell them what behaviour I expect (I don't like calling out so please put your hand up...I also introduce my behaviour management...such as stickers...and explain how the children can earn these. I also take an toy with me which gets placed on the most hard working table during lessons...she doesn't like talking and bad behaviour so she has a tendency to fly around the room looking for somewhere to settle. Of course this does not work so well with the older children. Table points, stickers, stars etc are better for upper Key Stage 2. Secondary school students should know better than to misbehave so play on this...perhaps write the names of hard working students on the board. I always make a lot of fuss over the well behaved and hard working children...very quickly the other children want the same positive attention).

    2 - I personally try to stick to normal routines but I see no reason why you shouldn't have an ice breaker may come in handy throughout the day at the very least.

    3 - If children walk around the class I ask if they would do this for their normal teacher. Usually the children are quite honest, but if not, somebody will certainly let you know. I ask the class why I might be or cross...they can usually tell me. Give the children an opportunity to correct their own behaviour...if they do not...then you must go through with a sanction. This could be sitting in time out, missing a few minutes of break/golden time...etc! You will probably know what to do at the time...and each school should roughly inform you of their behaviour policy. I find that the children are always very helpful and pretty good with routines etc...I always ask for somebody sensible to raise their hand to explain routines to me if I really feel lost. On this site it suggests that asking the children can take away from your authority. I always remain professional and calm even if I am panicking inside...and I calmly ask a child or TA for their support...sometimes without the rest of the class hearing.

    4 - See point 1. Believe will very quickly learn to deal with this. Let the children know that you will be talking to their teacher and you very much want to return good news. Say you have heard they are very clever/well behaved and you are looking forward to working with them...etc! If you have a bad experience...fear not...have a look at some behaviour management tips online and is the best way to learn. I actually enjoy trying out new techniques. I have been supplying for a few weeks now and have really enjoyed it but on Friday I had a very challenging Key Stage 1 class...I was exhausted...but I kept reminding them of my expectations and at the very least...we completed all of our work and had a productive day. Most children are very eager to please. Bad behaviour happens for many reasons...I try to be positive to all children; sometimes the low achievers become very despondent and need a lot of support and encouragement. Take time to go around the class and talk to the children...take an interest in their work etc. Also, sometimes they get a little bored. Sometimes I randomly make them stand up and do some brain exercises...or perhaps march on the spot while we read a sentence etc. There are also lots of learning games and time fillers which are useful to have in mind. Do not waste any time during the day!

    5 - You should not be on playground duty alone...but the best thing I can suggest is to ask the school about their policy for dealing with this. I tend to walk around, talk to the children, remind them of good behaviour and ensure that no child is left on their own. This is the main concern I have as sometimes children can get left out at playtime...and this can really impact on their behaviour during the day.

    I cannot really suggest how your first day will be. Just be professional and polite...leave the classroom tidy and have a few things up your sleeve...and you should have a great day!

    I am not sure whether you have already started...but good luck! XXXX


    • #3


      Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. That was extremely helpful, and it's also so good to know there are other new supply teachers who feel similar to how I'm feeling.

      I guess the biggest difficulty for me will to appear calm and confident even when I'm feeling overwhelmed.

      Thanks again, I may try out a of your s. I especially like the toy one. Do the children seem to respond really well to that? I will be teaching mainly Key Stage 1 at first so I think it will be quite suitable for them.

      Do most classes have a TA in the class? How helpful are they? Do they tend to get on well with the supply? I know at home it can go both ways, I expect it's similar here.

      Here is a funny question, but... register I assume is the same as taking attendance... and does this get sent to the office then by a child, or do I take it down at break?

      Also, I was thinking about getting them to put on name tags as soon as they walk in the door. What do other supply teachers think about this ? Is this common? Any other suggestions? Also, I was thinking that would be a good place to put stickers they may earn throughout the day.

      Anyways thanks again for replying, and any other help/suggestions or even if someone else could sort of walk me through a typical supply day would be helpful. It may sound silly, but the UK may vary from Canada in ways I wouldn't think about, so this would really be helpful.

      Thank you!!



      • #4
        Hi and welcome to you both. Seems like you have got a very comprehensive answer there from malibrit. Hope this week goes well for you xx


        • #5


          I'm sure British kids are pretty similar to Canadian children - some can be a handful but most are keen to please.

          You have proven yourself to be a competent teacher in the past - and have obviously impressed your supply agency - so just relax and I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

          Yes, registration is the same as taking attendance - some schools have different routines but there will always be some helpful children!
          As you're mainly planning on working in KS1, you should normally have a TA with you (at least for morning sessions, if not all day)
          Again, (most) TAs are human (!) and will run through routines with you - just ensure that the pushy ones don't try and take over - you are being paid to teach the class and they are paid to assist you!

          There really isn't such a thing as a 'typical supply day' but things should run the same as your teaching practices on your course.

          So, come on, take a few deep breaths, have a bit of chocolate and enjoy your first few weeks of supply!

          Let us know how you get on.


          • #6
            Hi to both of you!

            Just wanted to say that you'll probably have the kids eating out of your hand as you sound different! The kids love different accents, they'll be fascinated!


            • #7

              What an amazingly helpful forum this is .... I can see I'll be using it a lot. I've just joined and I'm about to do my first supply job tomorrow. Just an afternoon with Year 6. I'm a bit nervous as I haven't taught a full class for many years but I've really appreciated the tips given to canadianinmanchester. I know I need to go in there and be confident and it will be fine ........ I'll keep telling myself that and eventually I might believe it!


              • #8
                Hi BB!

                You don't have to believe it yourself, just have enough front to get the kids to believe it!

                It's hard stepping back in the classroom, but a bit like riding a bike... the curriculum changes, but it just goes round and round in circles (think we're back to 1970's teaching methods now?!) and kids are still kids at heart... Enjoy, and let us know how you get on!


                • #9
                  Hi Bantam Beryl (great user name) - here's your welcome gift... virtual chocolate


                  • #10
                    I survived

                    Thanks for the Janeb .... I shall save it for a virtual 'moment'.
                    My first supply job yesterday went ok - year 6 aren't too keen on imposters in their classroom but it was fine. Then another call came at 10am this morning and I have spent the rest of the day with a lovely year 4 class - I'd like to keep them. No work prepared so had to think on my feet. I can see this job will keep me mentally active!!

                    Let's see what tomorrow brings ......


                    • #11
                      That's fantastic Bantam Beryl - sounds like it went really well


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bantam Beryl View Post
                        My first supply job yesterday went ok - year 6 aren't too keen on imposters in their classroom but it was fine. Then another call came at 10am this morning and I have spent the rest of the day with a lovely year 4 class - I'd like to keep them. No work prepared so had to think on my feet. I can see this job will keep me mentally active!!

                        Let's see what tomorrow brings ......

                        Glad it all went well and well done for sorting out work (isn't it annoying when there's no planning?!)

                        On Wednesday in Year 6, I was given 30 seconds notice by the TA that 'French is next' (and there's no planning!), whereas I had previously been told that I would teach numeracy for the whole 1 and a quarter hours before lunch!!
                        I was then praised by a visiting PGCE student who couldn't believe how versatile supply teachers have to be! "Mai oui, je suis tres versatile!!!"
                        Last edited by janeb; 11-02-2010, 07:46 PM.


                        • #13
                          I' ve never seen any one use name stickers, how about getting the children to write
                          their name on a piece of card about 15 cm by 6cm folded length ways down the middle and stand it up in front of them ( so it looks like a little tent)?

                          You will then see who can write their name and the ones who finish first can decorate theirs (also a constructive way to pass some time).


                          • #14
                            Icebreaker Activities

                            Develop the skills of management and staff through tailored training programmes.