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Crafting Your Versatile Supply Teaching Toolkit

Crafting Your Versatile Supply Teaching Toolkit

Being a supply teacher involves the ability to be adaptable and organized, ready to meet the demands of your classroom at a moment’s notice. Whether you're in a kindergarten or high school setting, the key is cultivating a versatile toolbox. This toolbox includes effective classroom management strategies, emergency activities, age-appropriate warm-ups, and a keen awareness of the local community and student interests. 


  1. Classroom Management Toolbox: As a supply teacher, effective classroom management is crucial. Set clear expectations and routines from the start of your day. Consistency is key, and having go-to strategies for behaviour redirection, positive reinforcement, and conflict resolution maintains a productive learning environment. Familiarize yourself with school policies, and seek guidance from fellow teachers or staff. 

  1. Emergency Generic Activities: In the unpredictable world of supply teaching, having emergency generic activities on hand is essential. These adaptable activities should suit various grade levels and subjects, providing a structured yet engaging option when unexpected gaps in the schedule arise. Consider educational games, quick writing prompts, or interactive discussions adaptable to different contexts. Keep a math problem journal or your favourite children’s book that you can use to initiate discussions for those “just in case” moments. 

  1. Arrival: Arrive early at the school to familiarize yourself with the physical layout, including the locations of essential facilities such as washrooms and the staff room. Taking this proactive step allows you to navigate the school confidently throughout the day. It’s beneficial to introduce yourself to the office staff, the principal and a few teachers. Establishing these initial connections ensures that you have reliable points of contact for any questions or assistance you may need during the day. This demonstrates professionalism and helps to create a positive and collaborative impression.

  1. Minds On: Tailor your approach by incorporating age-appropriate warm-ups. For younger students, use short and lively activities that require a bit of movement or group games. For older students, engage in thought-provoking discussions or brief brainstorming sessions to activate their minds. 

  1. Geographical Familiarity: To connect with students, familiarize yourself with the geographical area. Explore the local community, know landmarks, and be aware of cultural nuances. This enhances credibility and allows you to incorporate local context into your teaching, making lessons more relatable. 

  1. Demographic Awareness: Understand the demographics of the students. Be aware of cultural backgrounds, learning styles, and specific student needs. This awareness enables you to adapt your teaching approach to meet the unique needs of the students under your care. 

  1. Shared Interests: Bridge the generation gap by staying informed about what's trending in students' lives. Being current on the latest music, movies, and TV shows helps to make connections with the students. This knowledge provides a valuable vantage point, allowing you to integrate relevant examples and discussions into your lessons.


The role of a supply teacher is dynamic and multifaceted. Equipping yourself with a versatile toolbox contributes to success. Embrace the adaptability required in supply teaching, and you'll navigate challenges while creating meaningful connections for a positive and enriching educational experience for both you and your students.

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Meet the author:

Nina Jaiswal, an Educational Consultant and former Superintendent of Education, offers valuable insights for educators, both experienced and new. As an expert witness in school liability, discipline matters, compliance, and policy, her perspective is essential for understanding the complexities of education. In addition to consultancy, Nina dedicates her expertise to coaching staff at all levels, focusing on career growth, promotion preparation, leadership development, and competency strengthening in educational matters.

With over 13 years on the Accreditation Review Panel for the Ontario College of Teachers and a history of teaching at the University of Toronto and York University, Nina's voice is grounded in extensive experience. She has significantly contributed to professional learning at the Ontario Public Supervisory Officers’ Association (OPSOA) and served as a coach for the Ontario Principals' Council. Recognized for impactful partnerships with community agencies and families, Nina is a driving force behind fostering public confidence and elevating student achievement.  

Nina's writing is an indispensable resource for anyone eager to delve into the dynamic world of education.