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Like many jobs, becoming a cover supervisor means no two days will ever be the same and you’ll be able to gain a greater understanding on behaviour management, school policies and even have the freedom to experience a number of different schools. We spoke to one of our most experienced cover supervisors, Vani, to get her perspective on a typical day and provide some top tips on managing a classroom.
When I arrive at a school I will be working at I receive a ‘welcome pack’ introducing me to the school. This includes key information like lesson timings, a map of the school, uniform expectations for the pupils and the school behaviour policy. As each school you work for is different to the last, this definitely becomes one of the most useful tools I am provided with and instantly becomes my guide for the day. I then met the Cover Manager who will provide a further breakdown on the year group, lessons and teacher you are covering. I’ve always really appreciated them taking the time to speak with me, so I never feel like I have just been abandoned – if I was ever to need any support, I would know straight where to go.
On occasion you may be asked to cover a form period and take their registration. As this is a legal requirement of the school, my top tip is to bring the pupils in and ask them to make sure all their coats and bags are off and they’re sitting quietly before the register can begin. As I may not have taught this class previously, I will always complete the paper register provided by the school, do a head count and maybe even send a blank piece of paper round for the pupils to write their names on. This way I can make sure I’ve made sure everyone is in attendance.
Form time is a great time for me to interact with pupils; ask them what lessons they have for the day, how their week has gone, help them catch up with any work or have a group discussions regarding any recent news events.
When you arrive at your lessons, it’s usual practice for students to line up outside the classroom quietly before they enter. Never be afraid to wait until they are quiet or ask for some support from another teacher close by if they are being difficult – this establishes you are in control before you even enter the classroom and helps set the tone for the rest of the lesson.
If a seating plan has been left by the usual class teacher, make sure you ask the pupils to sit in this order. If not, you can always ask them to sit boy-girl (if possible). I also try and leave one seat free at the front in case a pupil is disrupting the class and needs to be moved.
The pupils will always know where the equipment needed for the class work can be found, so never be afraid to ask for their help. The teacher you are covering will have provided work that needs to be completed, but before you start I always recommend asking pupils to recap what they did in previous lessons to get them engaged. I like to write instructions clearly on the board so they can refer back to them and will also read out any relevant information to the pupils and ask for questions or discussions on the work at this time.
Whilst the pupils are working, never just sit behind the desk. Make sure you’re walking around the class – not only will this help keep pupils on task and working, but will also ensure they can ask you a question if needed and know that you’re there to help if necessary. Classroom/behaviour management is a huge part of becoming a cover supervisor, but make sure you also enjoy your time with the pupils – you’ll be surprised how much you can learn from them!