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Behaviour management tips for supply teachers

Friday, February 22, 2019

Behaviour management tips for supply teachers

Behaviour management comes with the territory of working in a school, whether you’re a permanent teacher, supply teacher, cover supervisor or supply teaching assistant – it’s unavoidable (as much as we wish otherwise)!

Most schools will have regular teacher training days that include behaviour management courses, but if you work on supply or teach on a temporary basis, this might be something you miss out on.

Classroom management for supply teachers doesn’t differ too much to a permanent teacher; however, they do have to be more assertive so that they aren’t taken advantage of by the pupils.

What is behaviour management?

Behaviour management is a whole school’s approach to challenging poor behaviour. The aim is to create a positive environment in which everyone can learn.

Examples of poor behaviour include talking when students should be working or listening, being late to class, being disruptive or bullying.

Often these behaviours have a root cause, so a part of behaviour management for permanent and special educational needs staff is to find this cause and how to best support them.

When supply staff are in a classroom, students can often see this as an opportunity to misbehave. But don’t worry, we’ve collected some advice and had some excellent tips shared by our teacher friends on Facebook that should really make a difference for you!

Introduce yourself

First impressions are everything. If you can, get to the classroom early so that you can greet the students as they enter the room. By doing this, you’re gaining an insight into the personalities of the class and who may cause trouble!

“It’s all about forming positive relationships with your class and the rest will come!”  Anonymous

How to earn respect as a supply teacher

Next, introduce yourself to the class as a whole and run over the lesson’s objectives. Let them know that the school has asked you to report on behaviour, so you will be passing on names of the students who’ve worked hard, but equally the ones who have misbehaved!

Be firm yet fair with your expectations – let them know that this isn’t just a ‘doss’ lesson.

“Say that even though you don't know their names, you'll be able to get on Sims. Even if that isn't the case!”  Anonymous

Another tip is to ensure that the students are sat according to the lesson plan, as the regular teacher will know who works well together and (most importantly) who doesn’t! This will also help you to address the students by name. If you’re really prepared, you can even use the plan before the lesson to practice saying the trickier names.

Stick to the school’s behaviour system

Behaviour management in schools can differ, so make sure that you’re familiar with your current school’s behaviour management policies before heading into the classroom.

“Be consistent and take tips from the other teachers. Ask what the school policy is and stick to it. If there isn't a rigid system in place, make sure you have a few ideas of your own to fall back on that can be adapted depending on the class/age of the children.” Sarah, Facebook

Follow your school’s behaviour management strategy to the letter, showing that you mean business and are there to help them learn.

“Some [schools] have very good support systems and behaviour policies. I once saw a long-term supply teacher ringing individual parents in front of the class - this actually worked!!! Also, some schools give you walkie talkies to ask for support and removal of very challenging children.” Marcella, Facebook


Your reward system will depend on the age of the students and could be something the school already has in place, so it’s worth asking at the start of your supply booking.

“Lots of praise! Let the children know they’re being good – ‘you are sitting well’ etc. Use stickers or try the Star of the Day Certificates from Twinkl. You could have a good list on the board or reward the students with golden time.” Sheila, Facebook

Take advantage of the support staff

The class’ teaching assistant, HLTA or learning support assistant will be familiar with the pupils you’re teaching. Work in partnership with them to ensure that none of the students are taking you for a ride!

They will be your second pair of eyes and ears and help when managing challenging behaviour, as well as rewarding those who deserve praise.

Show confidence

Don’t fake it if you don’t know what you’re doing! The kids will pick up on it.

Use the room and materials, quiz the students or explain that you’ll leave a note for the regular teacher to go over the topic once they’re back.

Leave a good impression

At the end of the period, thank the class if they’ve behaved well and remind them that you will be speaking to their teacher to report on how the lesson went.

Make sure the room is clear and tidy, and leave a note summarising the lesson, who deserves praise and who misbehaved (hopefully no one!). Leaving this message should help to lay the foundations and gain more respect if you teach the class again, as they can see you’ve stood by your word.

If you’re considering becoming a supply teacher but are concerned about classroom behaviour management, contact our expert team for more advice and to learn about the schools we work with.

Perhaps you already work on supply and have some other tips you can add – we’d love to hear from you!

Get in touch. 

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