Working as a supply teacher is very rewarding, but there is no doubt that it can be a challenge at times. Look after yourself with these tips for better wellbeing from Sam at Schoolwell.
1. Fretting won’t make the phone ring (or beep, or vibrate). Constantly checking it won’t do the trick either! While you are waiting for work to come in, put your phone somewhere you can see and hear it clearly and get on with your day. No matter how many times you check your phone you cannot possibly influence whether or not a supply booking will come through. It just eats up a lot of time as well as distracting your focus away from other tasks.
2. A little bit of preparation can smooth out a few of the bumps of day to day supply. If you get advance notice of a booking, suss out the route, public transport or parking using Google maps. Download a free SatNav app to your Smartphone to make finding new schools easier. Make sure your bag is always packed and ready to go. As well as your teaching resources, keep it stocked with a few essentials such as an emergency lunch (instant noodles or soup are perfect for this), tea bags and a travel mug. Have some open-ended, minimum preparation activities to hand. For example “questions to think about” only need to be written on a board and will give you some breathing space while you sort out your day on a late booking.
3. Smile. Even faking a smile has been shown to provide positive feedback to the brain, reducing stress. Staff and children will perceive you as a happier and more approachable person, making repeat bookings more likely. Not only does smiling make you feel better, smiles are contagious, so you’ll be spreading the happiness!
4. Relish your time off. While it can be stressful if you are financially in need of the work, day to day supply does offer some great benefits in terms of time. It needn’t be expensive either; you could use the time to improve your skills with CPD courses. Find out about free activities in your local area, you may be surprised by what’s on offer in libraries, parks and museums, for example. No planning or after school meetings also means evenings are free to take up a new skill or get together with friends and family.
5. Prioritise good quality sleep. Supply teaching demands quick thinking and flexibility, both difficult to pull off when you are tired. Banish phones and tablets from the bedroom, avoid caffeine late in the day and make sure you have a relaxing wind down time before you go to sleep.
Sam at Schoolwell is a teacher and blogger.