I did not intend to create this blog for supply teaching, but I recently read a teacher’s blog in which he described supply teachers as falling into three categories: hippies who cannot take the stress, unqualified people who cannot get a contract and those who are too strict for the army. Neither is correct and I have posted to ask him if he has ever worked as a supply teacher. I await his reply. This incensed me so much, that I have decided to write from my point of view as a supply teacher to show what it is really like.
Thursday 8th December 2010
On the day before my birthday, I worked in a year 6 class at a local school (7 miles away), booked in advance through an agency. The teacher was ‘in school’ and could explain the work and provide help if it was needed. Her planning involved (i) a maths lesson on co-ordinates, with the year group in sets, (ii) guided reading, (iii) English on fantasy writing, again in sets, (iv) art on Tudor portraits, (v) history on the Spanish Armada and (vi) Christmas carol practise in the hall. She was polite and friendly, as well as prepared to properly explain the work, as was everybody else I had contact with in the school (including admin).
Fantasy writing involved discussing types of air-transport like flying carpets, balloons, blimps and airships. This interested the children and we discussed how the Zeppelin flew and why they are not often used today. During the art lesson, later in the afternoon, a child noticed a picture of the R101 in flames, on one of the newspapers which had been spread on the table. The others were genuinely fascinated in what it actually looked like in a photograph. Of course, the famous disaster was spectacular in a tragic way and we cut out and saved the picture for display. Of the other lessons, History involved prioritising the reasons for the Armada’s failure, without a write or wrong answer, and the pupils displayed some knowledge, so I resisted the temptation to test them on some dates.
Chattiness was the children’s worst trait, but they quietened when I spoke to them. They were also polite, friendly and hardworking. This included the sets, which can be disruptive for a supply teacher - as you settle one class of children during the register, only to teach another group. Because the carol practise ran over home-time, I did not get chance to tell the class that they were the best year 6 I had taught for some time. I did, however, say this to the class teacher, who said she would pass on the message to the children.
The head teacher greeted me during the assembly, as I have worked at the school previously. When a child mentioned that today was her birthday, I told her mine was tomorrow and the class declared, "Happy birthday for tomorrow." After marking, I drove home feeling that I had enjoyed a pretty good day and hoping that I teach in this year group again.
Originally posted on Thursday 9th December 2010