For many people, a PGCE is the most stress inducing and sardine packed year they’ve ever experienced. Constant inspections, an endless list of rules and regulations to comply with, not to mention stacks of academic paperwork to boot, phew. And once you’ve jumped through hoops and passed with flying colours, it’s time for the real fun to start!

Plenty of teachers start out with supply teaching because it gives them a chance to dip their feet into the water before taking on a full time role, however supply teaching is no easy feat.

The dreaded ‘free’ lesson fear

Whenever we think of supply teachers, we’re usually drawn to our own school memories of being told the regular teacher was off sick, and rejoicing at the prospect of a ‘free lesson’. For a newbie teacher on the block, being faced with a room full of angels and devils who think they’re in for an easy ride is a terrifying prospect.

All is not lost though, there are a number of handy tips and tricks to keep your cool in the classroom and get your lessons off to a great start. Despite the potential to feel like a small fish in a big pond, supply teaching is a great way to broaden your knowledge of different schools and get a feel for the type of school you’d like to work in full time. Let’s take a look at a few ways to keep your head above water in the classroom.

The early bird catches the worm

Arrive early so that you can familiarise yourself with the school and their behavioural policy, not to mention catch up on any last minute preparation. The worst thing you can do is roll in the same time as a late pupil - that just doesn’t cut it when you’re the teacher!

Find out if the work is pre-set

Organisation is paramount, find out in advance if there are teaching plans left for you to follow or if you need to make a lesson plan of your own. Always have a handy stash of worksheets/quizzes at the ready just in case everything goes a little pear shaped.

If you’re unsure of the available resources call to ask, there’s no point in planning to co-ordinate a lesson on a white board and then arriving at your class to find everything is online.

House rules

Make a poster of 4 simple rules you want your classes to follow and begin each lesson by discussing what they mean and the consequences if the rules aren’t followed. By marking your territory from the offset, your pupils are less likely to push the boundaries and to respect you.

Talk to support staff

It’s useful to gain as much information as possible about your class before teaching them - ask support staff such as Learning Support Assistant’s for tips and tricks, they’re likely to know your class better than anyone and will be able to tell you who to watch out for.