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Challenging Assumptions

Hannah has been confronted with many assumptions when on daily supply. She tackles them in her blog. 

I work in primary schools, preferably with day-to-day work, and often meet the teachers I am covering for the day. There are instant assumptions that are made that, I feel, there is no truth behind. These might come up in conversations not only at change-over times with the teacher, but also with any learning support assistants* who despair at having a stranger take over for the day.

The first is that I must be doing supply teaching because I cannot find a long-term post. This leads from the idea that no one would choose to do supply. But, for me, that’s just not true. I enjoy visiting different schools, meeting a huge variety of children and seeing different classroom management strategies and variations on the curriculum.

The second is that I’m newly qualified and I’m just muddling through. This may be because I often am muddling through, but not through lack of experience, usually because necessary information (like timings for the day, resources mentioned on the plan or even the register) are missing, without clues as to where to track them down, and I’m making-do. I did do supply teaching when I first qualified, but I would say this is when I was my most sharp. I was learning all the children’s names by lunchtime, making worksheets and resources while teaching and just generally sweeping around like some sort of last minute classroom goddess.

The last is that I must long for my own classroom, and look wistfully upon those I’m in. Again, not particularly. Keeping up a classroom - particularly when given a chaotic and messy one mid-term - is a lot of work. I enjoy thinking of fun display ideas based around a topic or a tricking area of learning, but display policies and classroom organisation politics get me down, and I’m quite happy looking and marveling at other people’s displays, encouraging the creator and then leaving.

I know that this is what people assume of me because when I explain the truth, that I had a permanent job which I left, teaching staff are eyebrows-raised surprised. I’ve done SATs, I’ve written reports, I’ve planned for a diverse range of children and adult support, I’ve been observed by Ofsted - all of that, and all that comes with that. Yesterday, when covering SATs for the day, I casually mentioned that I’d used the same paper with my own class, and more obviously than most, she stopped to ask more.

We supply teachers have more interesting stories than we let on. When I cross paths with another supply teacher, I always like to ask them what their story has been with teaching so far, and they’ve often had such a range of adventures in the classroom, whether with a class of their own or with others. It should never be assumed that we are without experience or wisdom of our own.

*It should be mentioned that the best learning support assistants I come across are tremendously helpful and supportive, and do not look down on supply teachers at all.

This is Hannah debut blog and we welcome her aboard our blogging team. We look forward to her next blog. 

Tags: Hannah, Bristol, primary, teacher

Category: Australian Teachers

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