What to take to school
The following suggested items will ensure that the day runs efficiently and smoothly.
Directions - including the address of the school, your journey, the closest tube station, the name of the your contact at the school and expected arrival time. Your supply agency should provide you with these details.
Red & black pens to mark the attendance (called "the register"). Remember, the register is a legal document and is not allowed to be marked by a student. You must mark the register yourself.
Stickers or rewards
Any 'emergency' learning activities you have planned to keep the children occupied. Never assume that there will be work left. It is often handy to take in a general knowledge quiz, word search or writing topics, posters for example. Ideas for lessons are available from the Classroom office.
When you arrive at the school
On your arrival at the school, you will be meeting with your contact. This is the perfect time to ask for the following items to familiarise yourself with the particular policies and procedures of that school.
School Discipline Policy
Any work left by the regular teacher. Remember, any work already left must be completed. Similarly, any work set by a supply teacher is expected to be completed and marked prior to your departure for the day.
Copy of the day's schedule (recess times, lunch breaks, home time, etc.)
Any lunch/break duty you are to do.
Map of the school including the location of the staff toilets, staff room and student toilets.
Keys for the rooms
Whiteboard markers (if needed) - you are very unlikely to encounter chalk boards in London schools and much more likely to use Interactive White Boards (you might know them as "smart boards") and White Boards (aka dry erase boards).
Student text - where appropriate.
Procedures for letting students out of classes (For example, hall passes/toilet passes) Remember, keep the students in your classroom unless instructed otherwise.
Before you leave the school
As a daily supply teacher, you need to ensure that the following items have been attended to before you leave for the day.
Leave a note for the regular teacher (be sure to include the names of students who were particularly helpful as well as the students who may have been difficult. Put yourself in their teacher's shoes and don't just write down the negative things. For example, as a teacher, I'd rather read "Your students were so well behaved today! Thank you for having me in your class. I particularly enjoyed the way that Abdul helped Iqbal with his writing without even being asked. Unfortunately, Shaniah needed 4 reminders to return to her silent reading and received a time out as a consequence for her behaviour." You will also need to write more specifically about what you actually taught that day, but I think it is always good practice to highlight some positives in your day.
Fill in your timesheet, get it signed and fax it to your agency. Schools should have copies of the timesheets, but it is always helpful if you bring your own just in case. If you forget to do your timesheet, you won't get paid!
Leave the room tidy and all work should be marked.
Return any borrowed equipment & keys.
For primary classes, bring the children to the outside area where their parents pick them up. If you have a Teaching Assistant, ask them to support you in making sure that the students are being picked up by the appropriate people (this is particularly important for the younger ages).
Dismiss students on the bell, not beforehand.
Enjoy your day! If you had a good day at the school, you are more likely to be asked back again. You are your best ambassador! If you enjoyed your day at the school, tell the Head Teacher, Deputy Head or Department Head. Smile. Share stories about your day.
Extra Tips for Primary Supply Teaching
Familialize yourself with the Literacy & Numeracy Strategies (taught every day in schools for one hour each). A good website is www.teachernet.gov.uk.
Prepare some resources and/or have ideas for lessons (particularly for Literacy and Numeracy).
Buy a book! Buy a book that you can use for all age groups. I brought "The Little Engine that Could" from Canada with me, and read it to kids aged 3-13 while I was supply teaching. They loved it, and I could make up some great lessons on the spot with it across many areas - art, literacy, numeracy, science. I always kept this one book on me, and the more I used it, the more it worked with my teaching. The best part was that the students hadn't read it yet (it's American I believe)
Talk to other staff. Be social in the staff room. Don't just keep your head in your Lonely Planet Guide to Europe! Get out there and talk to people. They are your best resource, and will really help you to get to know the school better, which students to watch out for and what to expect in the classroom. Have fun with it!