My supply teaching experiences so far.

Post 2: I am on the final day of my half term break. On Monday I will be going through feelings I haven’t experienced for nearly a year. You see, I have just finished a long-term placement where I have been in one school since December. It was never my intention to do long term work but I had done a lot of work in the school and it felt right. As it was teaching Reception and Nursery I felt the experiences would be very valuable. And they were: doing home visits to see 2- and 3-year olds being a particular highlight. The vast majority of families were immigrants and asylum seekers, and their welcome was so friendly, letting me into their homes and sharing their stories with me. Very humbling.

So I am into my 4th year of supply. Looking back on my records the majority of my work has been Foundation and Key Stage 1. I have especially been asked back a lot of times for Reception and Nursery and the feedback I have received has been mainly about how the children receive me as a male and the positive role model I create for the boys. It always makes me smile when I turn up to a school and say, “Hiya, I’m here to teach Nursery” and they do a double take.

In my early days I would be extremely nervous and get attacks of the butterflies when I park the car and walk in. My biggest fears weren’t about working with the children or controlling behaviour, but instead being watched by teaching assistants who may or may not be judging me! I soon learned to be confident in myself and all went fine. Even now it is healthy to have that fear when you walk in a place. I never want to get to a stage where I stroll in thinking this is going to be a breeze. That’s when the downfall will happen.

A general day goes like this: Hopefully I will have had advance notice of where I am going on the day(s) before. When this happens I like to do a quick Google of the school to see where it is, the Headteacher’s name and any info which would be handy (eg, is it on-street parking? Are there multi-classes of the same year group? I even like to check the name of the TA if it is there on the website, all to gain a little familiarity). Then I can leave the house at a reasonable time to get there. I do not like reaching a school after 8am. I much prefer having a look round the classroom, look for plans, chat with the TA etc. On days when there is no work arranged, it is a different ball game in my house. I am showered, dressed and ready for 7.15am which is when the agency opens. I have my sat-nav turned on ready to input the address and I even have my laptop on with the BBC traffic reports in case I have any hold ups! I do like to be organised. If a call hasn’t come in by 7.40am then that’s when I start to get nervous. The longer I wait the trickier it is going to be for me to get there in good time. If it gets past 8am I find the chances of a call are very slim. By this time surely a school would have found out if a teacher has called in ill. Nevertheless I have had calls right up to 8.50 before and one time a call at 11.50 to teach an afternoon session, so it can happen.

I like to stay in the classroom during lunch time. I may as well do the marking rather than save it to hometime and go home late. In my personal experience I have never been made to feel unwelcome if I do decide to go to the staff room. I’m not saying that I will always get chatted to! But on longer placements I do feel comfortable enough to chit chat.

I always stay to mark and to tidy the classroom. If the TA is still there I will feedback. I will always leave a written note for the day’s activities too for the teacher to read on their return. I like to hang back until at least 3.35 even if I am ready to go as I don’t want to appear to be trying to beat the parents out of the car park.

I have no real horror stories. Some tough classes, yes, especially when I have had to teach Year 3 or 4. But nothing where (as yet) I would refuse to go back to a certain school. I have been offered numerous jobs based on a few days’ work and although I have turned them all down it is a very positive thing to hear that you are wanted and that you have done your job well.

And so, I am back to the waiting game. I am nervous about getting daily calls again and visiting schools I have never been to before. But for me that is a perk; I still feel a thrill going somewhere brand new and into the unexpected. You don’t get that working in a call centre or office!

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