Interview with... Claire Riley

Interview with... Claire RileyI was very excited to get to interview Claire Riley, owner of Classroom Secrets and author of The Classroom Hopper for this issue.  This busy lady is also a supply teacher!
Why and how did you get into supply teaching?

To cut a long story short, I never wanted to be a teacher! I only did it because I got to the end of my degree and I didn't know what to do next. I was adamant that I was not up to teaching primary and so I went into secondary, where at least I could do the subject I loved, performing arts. It turned out that I actually liked it! However, as I did the only performing arts PGCE in the country, and wanted to move home to Halifax, there were no jobs. The October after I finished my PGCE, I decided that I should do some supply (very reluctantly). As it turned out, by the time my CRB for the agency was through, I had a part time job at a very difficult school. I worked permanently two days and did supply the rest. I can honestly say, as uncomfortable as it was, it was invaluable in shaping me as a teacher and I feel it was better to do this at the beginning of my teaching life.

What do you take with you on assignment?

Travel cup (most important), bottled water, breakfast, lunch, pencil case with every colour of pen and seven rubbers (in case I want to do art with them), Maths on Target textbooks, Grammar and Punctuation Text Books, Timesheets, box of bribes, business cards, CRB and a coat with a hood (in case I’m forced to do break duty in the rain).

How do you ensure you'll be called back to work at that lovely school / by your recruitment consultant?

I engage in good banter with my consultant - we get on and chat about our latest garden improvements. I think the most important thing is good behaviour. I insist on that and it creates a good impression. I do get a lot of requests.

Interview with... Claire RileyYour book, The Classroom Hopper, is about the day-to-day life of a supply teacher... Is it based on you and your experiences?

Some of it is based on me and my experience, a lot is exaggerated for humour's sake. I'm not the incompetent teacher that is portrayed in the book, it's more of a play on how supply can make you look that way. I poured my love for sarcasm into the book because the kids don't get it!

Do you have any words of advice for those wishing to be a supply teacher?

Jump in with both feet! You can do it - believe you can. Always have something up your sleeve and 'don't take no messing'!

What did you learn from being a supply teacher?

Everything! I learned how to be a Primary Teacher on the job! The key things:

1. To stand in front of the door 10 minutes before the lesson ends in secondary.
2. If you don't understand the planning, do your own thing and tell the teacher it didn't make sense.
3. Act really shocked at low level disruption.
4. That schools have 100 different ways of doing playground duty.
5. When class teachers are shocked when you don't know the terminology they use in their school, respond with terminology that you learnt from the school down the road to prove your point.
6. To focus on the day and the marking. Do the lesson, mark the lesson - don't leave it until the end of the day.

Many supply teachers don't feel they earn enough money, and some seem to have a lot of time on their hands. What have you been doing in your spare time?

I've always been lucky enough to do supply without worrying about money. Mine is the supplement wage. I have never ever done supply and struggled for things to do on the other days, in some ways I wish I had! For the last 3 years I've been working on a website that I launched 18 months ago. I always enjoyed creating resources, in secondary and primary. I realised that nothing was ever differentiated and that it was really difficult if you had a 1a and 4b in the same class. Seeing how many other teachers delivered lessons helped me to broaden my ideas for it. So, Classroom Secrets was born.

Who would be the ultimate supply teacher and why?

Robin Williams. He would be brilliant at behaviour management just by being himself and would always have the attention of the children, which is a big thing in my book.

Target Maths
And finally, what is your favourite supply teacher resource?
The target maths books.  They are differentiated, make for a structured lesson and answer books exist! 
You can find Claire in the following places:

CPD for supply teachers

Free! The Five Ds

The Five Ds - Five little words supply teachers need!

Supply for Lunch

#SupplyChat Tuesdays 8.30-9pm

Supply Teacher Top Tip of the Week

Home of #NSTW

Supporting and Celebrating Supply Teachers

Supply Teacher Room 101

Have Bag, Will Travel

Have Bag, Will Travel: The trials and tribulations of a career supply teacher


Free! Otis Stickers

Free stickers for supply teachers

King / Twin En-Suite in family home, Penny Bridge

Cumbria, United Kingdom
We have a lovely guest room with en-suite bathroom. The room can be made as a double (extra king size) or as a twin (full size single beds). The bathroom has separate bath and shower. We are in So...

Takeover Thursday - Supply Teacher Network