Top Tips especially for supply/cover teachers


The teachers who have the best classroom management skills earn respect from the pupils over time through the rapport they have, developing routines, meeting core needs and consistency but how do supply teachers gain this in just one day?


Get to know your pupils

The most influential strategy you have as a supply teacher is to get to know your pupils as quickly as possible. This can be through a circle time activity or another ‘getting to know you’ activity at the beginning of the lesson. One strategy for learning names is to attach each name to an image in your mind. For example, you could imagine a pupil called ‘Rob’ as a Robber with a striped jumper. Failing that, you can write all the pupils names on an A4 piece of paper folded lengthways down the middle and place one on each desk before the pupils arrive.


Once you know some facts about your pupils like what their hobbies are, refer to them in your classroom management. For example, if one of your pupils said they went BMXing at the weekend and later you catch them gazing out the window try saying something like “Tom, are you thinking about BMXing again? Okay eyes to the front, thanks.”


Starters, games, puzzles, fun worksheets, active learning activities

Start the lesson positively. Focus on having fun and create a rapport with the pupils. Every supply teachers nightmare is being told to show a video in a lesson and the video doesn’t work, leaving you stranded with no lesson to teach. Teaching in different schools all the time gives you the luxury of being able to repeat the same games and activities over and over again so spend time developing a folder of all the best ideas you have and make your lessons more fun than any permanent teacher could deliver! Download our ‘Active Learning Pack’ here.



Nothing undermines your authority more than not understanding the routines that the pupils are used to and them having to tell you what they are. Not knowing something as simple as whether pupils are allowed to go to the bathroom or not can result in pupils thinking you are unfair, a complete walkover or just don’t know what you are doing. Where possible, get to school early and ask anyone who is available about the routines in the classroom or if you are going to disrupt the pupils routine, do it confidently, explaining the key routine below:

-Seating plans

-Entering the classroom

-Leaving the classroom

-Lining up

-Sharpening Pencils

-Going to the toilet in lessons

-Teacher signals for silence

-Handing out supplies and putting away supplies

-Using computers/technology

-Class jobs

-What to do if you finish early


Don’t lose your temper!

Pupils love to wind you up as a sub and once an ‘us against them’ mentality has developed it can be very difficult to repair it. The relationship is key.