How to effectively manage behaviour as a supply teacher

Behaviour management can be one of the most challenging aspects of supply teaching. Positive relationships with students often underpin good behaviour management strategies. Putting the time in to build a strong, mutually respectful rapport with students can help to understand and unpick the reasons for disruptive behaviour. This article shares tips for effective classroom behaviour management whilst on supply. 


Challenges supply teachers face with behaviour management

Students in primary and secondary school appreciate routine; as with all humans, the unknown can be frightening and unwanted. Unfortunately, supply teachers can face challenging and disruptive behaviours during lessons until the students learn your expectations and boundaries and that you will show them respect and kindness. Recognising that all behaviour has a reason is the first step towards approaching disruptive behaviour in classrooms with curiosity and not an authoritarian response. 

Behaviour management when on supply can be challenging as you must adapt to new environments, routines, and students’ personalities and needs through constant rolling assessment. Making you flexible, adaptable, and resourceful! Unknown Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) can cause disruptive behaviour in the class. Work that has been set that is pitched incorrectly or is inaccessible by students can be the fuel needed to distract others and make your lesson turbulent. 


How to manage behaviour effectively in schools

Primary school behaviour management strategies can differ from Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 strategies. Always read the behaviour management policy of the school you are working in, focusing on the sanctions and rewards (remember to ask questions to any teaching assistants you may be working with or other department teachers). Follow the processes outlined in the policy, sticking to their usual routine as best as possible to minimise disruption. 

Use regular targeted verbal praise, recognising hard work, determination and application of the skills focused on in that lesson. Recognising those sitting in the immediate proximity of any low-level disruptors for choosing positive behaviours for learning can be a powerful tool in redirecting the behaviour of others. For example, you may have a child who is listening carefully and applying the instructions to their task, whilst their partner may become distracted and off-task. It can be a simple yet effective strategy to recognise the partner for their hard work and focus, reminding the off-task pupil that you will be circling back shortly to celebrate their efforts. 

When building relationships with pupils, it is important to be mindful of your own teacher's unconscious bias and learn more about what your unconscious bias may be and how to avoid it impacting inclusive practice.

Covered in the 3-part classroom behaviour management free CPD training accessible on the Teaching Learning Camp portal, it is imperative you begin your sessions with respect, positivity and enthusiasm. Recognising the importance of well-chosen language to redirect any dysregulated behaviour in the classroom. For instance, the choice of ‘Quieten down, I’m talking’ may not be as well received as ‘Listening now, thank you’. The expectation of the action can prompt pupils to follow the instructions without being authoritarian in your approach. 

Access the 3-part behaviour management training delivered by the Teacher Learning Camp for free today.