Supply Teacher Advice: How To Prepare For The First Day In A New School

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Supply Teacher Advice: How To Prepare For The First Day In A New School

SupplyWell asked supply teachers for advice on how best to prepare for the first day in a new school. Here are some of their tried and tested tips!

The first day in a new school as a supply teacher can be daunting since you don’t already have an established relationship with the students or are not yet fully comfortable with the school systems. It can be even more nerve-wracking if you are new to supply teaching. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We have collated some of the top advice on how to prepare for the first day in a new school as a supply teacher. 


When supply teachers start at a new school, they want to leave a lasting impression. How can you do this? You should prepare a checklist and find out as much as you can about the school you are starting at: 

  • Who are the key contacts? Where can you find this information? 
  • What is the general ethos of the school? 
  • How does the school function in reality, i.e. key times throughout the day?
  • Do you need anything before arriving? Lesson plans, stationary etc. Who is best to contact to find these things out?
  • What are the policies of the school? 

We have a blog on the top 5 questions you should ask when preparing for a new role we recommend that you read this and let us know what you think are some important questions for starting a new role.

Look Professional 

Looking and acting professionally will come naturally to you, after all you have trained for a long time and want to make the best impression possible. Acting professional will also make you feel more confident and outgoing (even if you feel nervous, you can fake it till you make it!) You can do this both in terms of impressing your colleagues in the school, and also the students:

  • Set out some ground rules to the class, but maintain positivity. 
  • Leave a note for the teacher.
  • Bring relevant materials for the lessons with you for example silent or reading aloud articles, bingo tasks. 
  • Leave the classroom as you found it.
  • Go in with a sense of humour but remain authoritative. 
  • Introduce yourself to the class and to staff.
  • Start conversations in the staff room so you leave a nice lasting impression.
  • Dress appropriately.

Day before preparation 

The day and morning before your first arrival are great opportunities for you to sort out some of the practical things you need to think about: 

  • Prepare everything the night before so your first morning runs smoothly, including your first day outfit.
  • Understand your route to the new school and how long it will take. Planning your journey will allow you to feel ready and you can focus on the day ahead. 
  • Try to arrive early. It’s always good to arrive early, it shows enthusiasm, and gives you wiggle room if unexpected inconveniences arise.
  • Bring your own stationary just in case there is none available to you. 

Have a read of some of our tips for Beating Sunday night anxiety as this may be useful in helping you relax before your first day.

Common Anxieties 

There are some common anxieties that people feel on their first day as supply teachers. You might be worried about pupils ‘testing their luck’ and having difficulty managing their behaviour. In reality you don’t know how they act regularly with their teacher. If you think optimistically, they might be as equally behaved as they are in their normal teaching circumstances. So try not to let this anxiety take over the excitement of meeting new classes. Sometimes people can feel nervous when it’s time to enter the staffroom, be yourself and be socialable. Just make sure you don’t use an already-claimed mug!  

Remember F.I.E.R.Y

We know that teachers love acronyms! Here is one that you should remember throughout your first day at a new school: 

Feedback: Give feedback to the school and to the regular teacher on how your day was, the work that was completed, and highlight the positives throughout the day.

Integrate: Get involved into the school community. Try to talk to other staff members, and go to the staffroom.

Ensure: Try to remain consistent. Follow the school rules, processes and procedures to the best of your ability.

Remember: Remember to manage your expectations. When you start your day at the new school and walk into the classroom, use and trust in your teacher instincts 

You: Throughout the process you are the key message when wanting to leave behind a good impression. Welcome the students to the class, make yourself credible and show that you genuinely care.

A Reminder Of Why You Do This! 

Supply teaching is a difficult yet very rewarding job, and sometimes we can forget. So here is a reminder of why you do this: 

  • You believe that all students have a right to learn. They are entitled to a teacher regardless of their regular one being absent.
  • You are part of a system that keeps education going. The shortage of teachers means supply teachers are needed to keep children being educated.
  • You might have chosen to have a career as a supply teacher. Students have the right to a good quality teacher.
  • You believe and want students to have the right to a safe and nurturing environment.   TA’s play an essential role in creating this.

Here at SupplyWell we are passionate about helping supply teachers have positive experiences and get the money that they are worth and deserve. We are here to support you and want you to enjoy supply teaching! Our goal is to enable you to teach more, earn more and smile more. What tips do you have for supply teachers starting in a new school? Let us know!

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