I love education. I want to start by saying that. I’m still as passionate about instilling knowledge into pupils and about providing a teaching experience where each child benefits as I’ve ever been. But it’s hard isn’t it? If you’re reading this as a teacher who has been in the profession even for a short while you’ll understand the pressures.
I chose to get into teaching because I believe I can make a difference. I like to think that during my time as a full-time secondary teacher I was able to. I teach science, a fairly sought-after specialist subject, so I didn’t struggle to find my first job and I was able to choose from three or four offers at the beginning.
The school I went with matched the ethos of my teaching style, it was a place that was supportive and progressive. It wasn’t too far from my apartment at the time either so that helped make the decision easier.
Rather than get into my whole teaching career, which, in years surpasses the fingers on my hands, I want to tell you why I chose to work supply, what I was expecting and what it’s really like.
For me, carrying out the practical aspects of teaching are the things which progresses a child’s education. Creating engaging lessons plans, articulating ideas and providing feedback on work are the most important things as a teacher, in my humble opinion.
If that was all we had to do as teachers, I’m sure I’d still be in a permanent role today. Unfortunately, it’s not. Perhaps I’m romanticising the past or maybe I had more energy back then, but the workload of a teacher feels like it’s increased ten-fold.
Recently, The Independent found that over half of new teachers are already not convinced that they will stay in teaching – and rising mental health problems are partly to blame.
In all honesty, it’s relentless and I fully understand the report by The Independent. Teachers are expected to perform every single day of the week with the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads from the threat of Ofsted and senior leaders.
Once planning lessons, marking and filling out all the relevant paperwork required by the various powers that be are completed you are ready for bed. I said goodbye to my social life, to family time and instead, said hello to stress, heart palpitations and weeks of tiredness only satisfied by half term breaks or summertime. At least that was my experience.
Why I chose supply teaching
When I had my first child and returned back to work, I found it impossible to achieve a work-life balance. It was then that I decided to work supply. At first, I was apprehensive about going into other schools and carrying out lessons. I was worried about how to manage a classroom of children as a supply teacher, whether it would be more difficult since they didn’t know me. Ultimately, my years of classroom management experience came to the forefront and it wasn’t difficult at all.
As for entering supply teaching, it’s been what some would describe as a ‘godsend’. It’s allowed me to do what I love doing; teaching without the restrictions of a permanent role. I simply head into a school, carry out the lesson plan I’ve been assigned (or for longer term posts one I’ve created) and I teach. Simple as that. I finish work when the school closes. I attend extra-curricular activities where required and I go home to my family and spend quality time with them.
I’m not saying that I won’t go back into a permanent role if the right one and school crops up but for now, I love the freedom and stress-free lifestyle associated with supply teaching.
I’ll end by saying that during this time, the team from The Classroom Partnership have been so supportive. They’ve provided me with CPD training to enhance my knowledge around topics such as behaviour management and effective listening. If you’re looking to get into teaching, contact them today – look at me, I had time to write this blog.
Mrs Cunningham, secondary supply teacher