Post 41: Weeks 3-5 of Autumn Term 2
Lots of sporadic days in this half term. I’m averaging about 2 and a half days a week, which is just about going to pay my bills. At this rate if it doesn’t pick up in the next few weeks or after Christmas then I may have to consider some of the long- or medium-term placements I occasionally get asked to do. We’ll see……
So on Tuesday 14 November I was asked to work in a school for the next 5 Fridays. But it was to support a teacher who had just come back from a long term sick leave. It was a strange day because rather than support her in class (Year 2) she asked me to take individual groups of children out of class and to work through their corrections for English and Maths. I didn’t see how taking one child at a time out of class was going to help her, but I just did as I was told. After a while I started taking small groups rather than individuals because I was never going to get through all the children at that rate. Later in the day the HT came to me and said it was her decision to use me in this way because the class teacher had not been getting the children to correct their mistakes or next steps, so she wanted me to drill it into the children (lots of green and pink marking to do then, which I ended up doing when I volunteered to do some marking). I had a good chat with the TA after school – this school had failed Ofsted a couple of years ago so were in special measures; this particular teacher had been struggling before she went off on sick. The class were ‘challenging’ (though from my observations they were absolutely fine today). I left feeling I hadn’t really done much to support!
No call on Wednesday. On Thursday I got a morning call to a school I’d not been to before. This school pay a lesser rate but what could I do? I can’t second guess whether I’ll get a different call so I had to take it (this happens more often than you’d think). A few SEN children in the class (Year 1) made it an interesting morning (1 child swore at the TA and escaped past me into the playground and tried to get over the school fence!). The afternoon was a lot calmer as the SEN children are taken to a nurture group. After school the DHT told me she wanted me to stay tomorrow too but I had to explain it was my last Friday session at the school I’d been working at for last 4 weeks. But she still called my agency (in front of me!) and tried to get them to swap me! No thanks, and not for less pay either!
On Friday 17th I worked my 5th and final day in the Reception class I’d been to. It was Children in Need day so everyone was dressed up and we had a sponsored bike ride around the school grounds. This placement has been a breeze and I’ve really enjoyed it. I got some lovely feedback from the TA and then from the HT who came into my class to thank me for all the work I’d done for the last 5 weeks. How lovely is that?
I got a call that afternoon offering me some regular work until Christmas in a Special School which I’ve worked at once before. It will only be for Monday afternoons but they said they specifically wanted a male teacher. I gave it some thought and agreed; it would be good experience (I enjoyed it last time) and it would be semi regular work despite it only being for half days.
So on the Monday afternoon I was shown to the class at lunchtime. It was a straightforward timetable in that we were to have a chat about the day’s news then to watch a dvd of a play they have been reading about. There are 10 in the class, all KS2 age (yikes!) and with a variety of needs, mainly behavioural – as I was soon to find out. They just could not cope with the long stretch of silently watching the film and we had a few walk outs and screaming bouts. The 3 TAs handled it all in their stride and took the children out to calm down if they needed to. It felt like a long afternoon!
On Tuesday I returned to the school where I was supporting the Year 2 teacher. But last night I’d had a call from the agency saying that they would no longer need me now after today (‘to do with costs’). Well, that’s fair enough but when I told the teacher this was to be my last day she had no idea; she hadn’t been told. She was very disappointed and had to see the HT to confirm. It was a shame because she was eager for the support. In the morning I taught small groups out of class. In the afternoon I had the whole lot to myself as she went on a course. We had a really good time; doing some RE then a great PE lesson in the hall. A shame to have finished here, it was pretty easy work!
On Wednesday 22nd I was asked to return to the Special school but to 2 different classes. The morning was straight forward because the teacher wanted me to support the HLTA as she was sued to teaching the class and it was just easier that way. Fine by me. We did some Talk for Writing and a bit of science. In the afternoon I was put in a different class. The adults laughed when I told them where I was going. When I asked what was funny, they said “You’ll see”…. Hmmmm. So I went to see the teacher I was covering and he warned me that this was the class ‘with the most challenging behaviour in school’. He did not expect much in terms of the work being completed and that if only 2 or 3 fights broke out then ‘you’ll have had a good afternoon!” Needless to say I had a stomach churning wait for the afternoon session to begin. When they walked in I also saw that they were all boys and that they were 13 – 15 year olds!! BUT… the afternoon went off absolutely fine! There were no fights, no messing about, no major incidents. We had a writing lesson, then into the ICT suite to do some coding; then a play time; then some PSHCE and some choosing time to finish the day. The TAs were delighted and told the class teacher when he came in after school that we’d had a brilliant afternoon. I went home buzzing – a rarity.
No work Thursday or Friday, and on Monday afternoon it was back to the Special school for my regular afternoon slot. This was much better than last Monday’s session and the children seemed happy to see me again. Only 1 child needed to be taken to isolation, the rest got on with their work without too much fuss. Phew!
I’m writing this on Tuesday 28 November as there has been no call again today. Fingers crossed for the rest of the week………………