8 signs you’re a supply teacher!

If you’ve ever worked as a supply teacher I’m sure you’ll be nodding along as you read this post. . .

1. You have laid in bed and ignored the phone ringing more than once

I must admit this isn’t something I’ve done recently (bills to pay, mouths to feed and all that) but I do remember when I was first on Supply in my mid twenties hearing the phone ring and thinking nope, not today thanks.

2. You’ve been told you’re not a real / proper teacher at least once by a child

This is usually just meant in the context of “you’re not a full time teacher in our school” however I have also experienced “It doesn’t matter what you think, you’re only here for a week anyway” – as you can imagine she didn’t get away with that one!

3. You’ve always got a mug & cutlery in the bottom of your school bag

You never know where you’re going to be, what time you will have or what facilities will be available to you.  A Cup a Pasta is my best friend when it comes to lunch at work!

4. You couldn’t live without your sat nav

School are notoriously difficult to find and often hidden at the bottom of residential streets with little signage.  I remember when I was first on Supply in the days before Sat Nav (yes really) when I would get lost trying to find a school and have to ring my best mate to talk me through the directions down the phone using his A to Z – how I ever got to work I’ll never know!

5. Your academic year doesn’t start till October

If you’re picking up much work in September you’re doing well – roll on October when people have got more meetings and the coughs and colds start to take hold . . .

6.”Winging it” is your speciality

From subject areas you don’t know much about to filling in gaps during the day when you’ve got no planning or have misjudged what time the school day is – being able to “wing it” is key to being a good supply teacher!

7. You have an immense power for learning names ridiculously quickly, and then forgetting them again as soon as you walk out of the classroom

One of the handiest tools in your behaviour management arsenal is a supply teacher is knowing someone’s name – being able to say “Erm Jonny, I am watching you” rather than “Erm love, stop doing that please” is immensely powerful!

8. You have a handy supply of pet names ready for when you do forgot someone’s name

One of the first things I say when I go into a new class is that I will try to learn everyone’s names as quickly as possible however if I call you “love” I’m not being rude, it’s just hard to learn 30 names all at once!

Have you worked as a supply teacher?  I’d love to know if you have anything else to add to the list!

Find more posts about my experience as a supply teacher here:

The downsides to being a supply teacher

Six reasons why I love being a supply teacher

Why I will continue to supply teach

Supply teaching – Six ways to get rebooked


  1. Catriona Stephen
    April 8, 2015 / 11:21 am

    I'll have to show this to my Mum, she did supply for a while until she found the job she's in now. She's very good at remembering names! It always amazes me, she can bump into people she hasn't taught since I was young, it sometimes takes her a while but she always remembers their names! Xx

  2. April 8, 2015 / 1:41 pm

    Well done you….It must be so hard at times. Especially learning all the new children's names but very exciting. New schools and new faces….

    • April 8, 2015 / 2:42 pm

      Yes it does keep things interesting 🙂 x

  3. April 8, 2015 / 5:25 pm

    I can't imagine anything worse than being a supply teacher. That is my job from hell – 30 kids and winging it. Hats off to you! x

  4. April 8, 2015 / 8:49 pm

    love this – I'm tempted by supply as it seems a good money alternative as I don't want full time permanent contract.

    • April 9, 2015 / 6:08 pm

      It's definitely worth bearing in mind – the ultimate in flexible working.

  5. April 9, 2015 / 2:46 pm

    I've never worked as a supply teacher but I've been thinking about it, just to see a range of schools. How does it compare to having a permanent position? No marking or meetings?

    • April 9, 2015 / 6:08 pm

      Funnily enough I've got two more posts in the pipeline which will answer that perfectly 😀 I love it though, it works for my life right now x

  6. April 10, 2015 / 6:41 am

    Mummy isn't a teacher but found this very funny! Great post x

  7. April 10, 2015 / 7:47 am

    haha.. I am a Spanish teacher (so I still get asked if I'm a 'real' teacher) but I've been on supply! This made me laugh, I am a master at number 8!

  8. Katy F
    April 10, 2015 / 3:50 pm

    This made me laugh! I have got really good at learning names- otherwise I call them all sweet. haha! #TheList

  9. April 10, 2015 / 4:39 pm

    My teacher who taught me in last year of primary school must have been a long standing supply teacher for that school… he had pet names for everyone! lol Fab post!

  10. April 10, 2015 / 7:23 pm

    Having been a floating teacher for a term before maternity leave, I can relate to much of this. I take my har off to you- supply teaching must be really tough! x x

  11. April 11, 2015 / 7:10 am

    It sounds like you need a medal my love! I couldn't do it, but I am so glad people like you do. Thanks so much for linking up to #TheList x

  12. April 11, 2015 / 9:58 am

    Aww ha ha. I used to work in Warren's school in admin and I would sit by the lady who organised teachers for supply. She always had her favourites – I definitely reckon that you would have been on her "nice" list 🙂 x

    • April 12, 2015 / 7:56 pm

      That made me laugh Kerrie 🙂 I think I generally do ok – I know I get asked for by name and only really work in a handful of schools as they keep me so busy most of the time! x

  13. April 11, 2015 / 7:22 pm

    hubby dad has worked as supply and I have heard him say he has left the phone when its been ringing haha. I probably would never go to work if I was supply. haha popping over from #sharefriday Mummy2Monkeys xx

    • April 12, 2015 / 7:57 pm

      I wouldn't get away with it now – I'd feel too guilty that I was wasting the money but in my early twenties with only me to answer to it was easier 😉

  14. April 14, 2015 / 9:30 pm

    Teachers are amazing, and I have no doubt that you are a true credit to your class! Loved reading this! Thanks so much for linking up with #MMWBH x

    • April 14, 2015 / 9:33 pm

      Thanks Debs 😀

  15. April 16, 2015 / 10:16 pm

    Love it! My friend is a supply teacher and frequently has to get used to people getting her name wrong – She is Mrs Kernick but quite often gets Mrs Turnip. And not always by just the kids!

    • April 17, 2015 / 8:03 am

      I once had a whole class or Reception children think I was called Mrs Gorgeous which I quite like 😉 I've also had Mrs Bird Chip and Mrs Burgers quite regularly lol x

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