How to use your time wisely as a supply teacher

Paul Boyd

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Let’s face it – a relative luxury in the life of the supply teacher is time.

Even with going the extra mile and helping out where we can, we invariably have more free time in our working day than our permanent colleagues. Depending on your work ethic and the degree to which those perfectionistic instincts are within you, you might even feel guilty at your apparent freedom compared to those around you!

Obviously, maximising your use of time will benefit you and those around you. And it challenges you to work on that delicate balance between being appropriately selfish and generous at the same time.

Time running out

Remember, you are a business. A one-person business. It can help to think of yourself as a consultant or freelancer to gain the mindset that you are not simply at the beck and call of a particular school or your agency; you are a service provider in your own right.

With that in mind, here are some questions to consider in relation to your use of time:

How much time do you have each day?

Be realistic – what portion of your day are you prepared to devote to work? How much of that is ‘non-contact’? If you notice you have an additional half an hour in the morning before you actually start teaching, what are you using that time for - Emails? Subject knowledge? Job hunting?

What tasks could be tackled in your available time to positively impact the broader needs of your working life?

What is your current work focus?

Working as a supply teacher is the perfect place to improve skills that may be underdeveloped in your practice. You could give yourself a clear goal for each day/week/month you are supply teaching. Maybe it could be ‘I’m working on effective behaviour management’ or ‘I’m expanding my GCSE subject knowledge’.

Then, when you head out to a new school, use some of your additional time to explore how that school is successfully delivering that topic or skill and absorb what you can through observation/conversation or exploring that school’s policies (with permission of course!).

clock race

Are you asking for sufficient help with your time?

So often, as a day-worker in a school, we can fall into an attitude of being overly-polite or not wanting to ‘bother’ the staff at the school we are supporting. Remember, you are there to work effectively. You are delivering a service, not doing them a favour. So, ask for the help you need to ensure your time and your students’ time isn’t being wasted.

If you get into a classroom and the computer isn’t logged on, or the resources aren’t available, politely assert yourself and ask for what you need to teach effectively. Don’t sit idly by waiting for someone to appear out of the ether with all the solutions to your problems.

Get to the department office or staff room, explain who you are and ask for what you need!


About our Community Expert


Paul BPaul Boyd
Community Expert

Paul is an actor and English teacher from Northern Ireland. Alongside his acting career working in theatre, film and television across the UK, he also teaches in primary and secondary schools throughout London.

Paul provides performance coaching to both individual clients and businesses.


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