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The Sleep Life/Work Balance

According to Miranda, managing work and sleep and putting them in the right order’s one of the true life challenges of full-time supply work. 

I’m part-time but am woken, often with a kick to the chops (if we’ve had a bad night) by my two-year-old in the wee small hours.

I have also put in my time of full-time working during the winter – de-icing the car,  grumbling about why everything in teaching is weighted towards the early morning and so on. If you ever see full-time teachers breaking in a new class at the beginning of the academic year, then you will have heard the sighs and moans of those who are dealing, once again, with a room full of strangers whose respect for them is dependent on their academic rigour,  ability to engage and the effectiveness of that terrible teacherly stare.

Us supply teachers can face these challenges on a daily basis. We need our energy but we also need to remind ourselves – even during term-time – that there’s more to life than the classroom. Be an outstanding person, not just an outstanding teacher.

I believe the key to keeping going is not to go to bed early every night for eight weeks. Just most nights. I think it’s important to balance the box set, the ill-advised extra glass of wine, and the flexi-time friend dropping by for dinner and staying late, with your early mornings in school. Of course, this doesn’t  add up, so there will be days when you are flat out by lunchtime – supply teaching can zap every iota of energy in your body.

Have you ever taken forty winks in your car? Here’s a tip (I used to do this when I was pregnant and cream crackered). Make sure you park on a neighbouring street so you’re not seen. Set your phone alarm, dip your chair and take fifteen minutes.

Here’s a few more of my tips for staying in the game while all around you are sneezing, wheezing and yawning:

  • Keep high energy snacks in your bag
  • Bring your own coffee in a jar, then no one can limit your caffeine intake unless there are cut backs planned for boiling water
  • Take vitamins, pay for a flu jab
  • Don’t put your face anywhere near the face of anyone under the age of 25 (from October through to March)
  • Get out at lunchtime and take the air – the staff room can be dispiriting when everyone is exhausted

And the Dunkirk spirit does not necessarily extend to the supply staff! Mark holidays on your calender and diary, so you know where you’re aiming for. Go to bed early in the week before half-term, so that you’re not on your knees by half-term and unable to reap the benefit of your lie-ins and late nights later.

Keep on keeping on.

How to you make it through when things get a bit tough? We want to know your successful tips. Please email Megan ( to share. 

Tags: Miranda, Manchester, NQT, supply

Category: Australian Teachers

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