Behaviour Management as a Supply Teacher

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Being a supply teacher comes with its own set of unique challenges, and one of the most significant is behaviour management. It is completely normal to face difficulties, especially when stepping into a new class as a stranger. Building a foundation of trust with students is crucial, and it requires a delicate balance of assertiveness and warmth. In this blog post, we will explore some essential behaviour management tips for supply teachers to help create a positive and productive classroom environment.

Establishing Expectations:

At the start of the day, take the time to introduce yourself and set clear expectations for the class. Creating a couple of presentation slides can be a valuable tool to not only introduce yourself but also communicate the boundaries you expect students to follow. However, it is equally crucial to maintain these expectations throughout the day. Waiting for students to meet these expectations may require patience, but it is an essential aspect of effective behaviour management.

Balancing Assertiveness with Warmth:

The key to successful behaviour management lies in striking the right balance between assertiveness and warmth. Simply reprimanding students without warmth can lead to resistance and non-compliance. On the other hand, being friendly, approachable, and warm can support effective behaviour management. This balance becomes even more critical when dealing with challenging behaviours.

Building Relationships:

Building strong relationships with students, especially those with more challenging behaviours, is vital. Take time during the day to engage in one-on-one conversations with these students, learning about their likes and dislikes. This knowledge can be a powerful tool to engage students and build trust. Investing in these relationships contributes significantly to a positive classroom environment.

Positive Reinforcement:

Using positive reinforcement over constant reprimands contributes to a calmer atmosphere in the classroom. Nevertheless, addressing the challenges posed by a pupil who persistently disregards instructions or disrupts the class requires a strategic approach. One effective strategy involves framing corrections as positive reinforcement, as exemplified in the book ‘Teaching WalkThrus: Five-step Guides to Instructional Coaching.’ The book provides valuable examples illustrating this approach, particularly when dealing with a student who engages in argumentative behaviour. Confrontations with students who question or deny their actions can be skilfully navigated using positive framing techniques. Rather than entering into a direct confrontation, it is beneficial to give students the benefit of the doubt by employing statements like ‘Maybe you weren’t…’ This approach redirects the focus to class expectations without making the situation overly personal.

Behaviour management as a supply teacher may be challenging, but by following these key principles, educators can create a positive and productive learning environment. Establishing expectations, balancing assertiveness with warmth, building relationships, and using positive reinforcement are essential strategies for effectively managing behaviour in the classroom. Remember, being kind to yourself and recognising the normal challenges that come with supply teaching is the first step towards success in behaviour management.

If you have joined us as a supply teacher and are struggling with behaviour management, many of the Apple A Day Team have been teachers and would be happy to offer further advice.

Other Useful Resources:

Twinkl have some useful CPD videos around De-escalation and Active Listening strategies here.

Tom Sherrington and Oliver Caviglioli’s series of WalkThru books offer fantastic step-by-step techniques and advice for behaviour management.

Ms Foster is a teacher and consultant with a focus on: ‘DEMYSTIFYING Behaviour in Primary school with strategies that WORK’. Her Instagram account has lots of practical tips that are useful for behaviour management in the primary classroom.


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