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Big up for supply teachers

Miranda is a Primary Supply Teacher working in schools through Protocol Education in Manchester. Miranda has recently accepted a long term role and feels that her supply experience has been of tremendous value.

Big up for supply teachers – short-term contracts…long-term goals

I’m ready to make the leap into longer-term teaching work now. I know I am, because I’ve been on such a lengthy and eye-opening journey over  the past 18 months as an NQT supply teacher. I’ve learned a lot from the practices, pedagogy, teaching styles and classroom management techniques I have encountered on the job.  I’ve not just seen it, I’ve been thrown into the gunk tank of it (here’s hoping that someone reading this remembers Tizwas). 

I believe that the ups and downs of supply teaching will help me to vie for longer-term work with my head screwed on. Imagine a candidate who, in the past six months, has worked in 12 different schools across the whole primary age range, who can knock up a nutritious day of curriculum-embedded  active learning for thirty hungry pupils out of a scrap of almost illegible handwriting  and a bag of cheap stickers. That’s your average common or garden day-to-day supply teacher.

In some respects, supply teaching is a rich and concentrated form of CPD. Except that you have to put 50p in a visitor’s pot for a cup of tea and no one can be arsed to network with you in the breaks. But you are behind the scenes, learning how different ideas work (or don’t work) in their context – from fabulous AFL to behaviour plans of a baroque complexity, and new fangled marking schemes entailing the use of eight different coloured marking pens. Courses are theoretical, supply teaching is learning on the job from people who have taken that theory and put it into practice.

I am wondering though - and I hate to be cynical – if my supply experience will truly be valued by potential long-term employers. Supply teachers are a bolt-on, the relief, the person who is paid to fill in for the ‘real professionals.’ I remember all the slights. I wish I didn’t. From the Deputy Head who blithely and with kind intent asked: ‘Have you thought of getting a proper job in teaching? I think it would suit you,’ to the acquaintance from my teacher training course who, gossiping about a mutual acquaintance, said, ‘Nah, she hasn’t chosen to stay in teaching. She’s doing supply now.’

My hope is that the staff, who interview us day-to-day supply teachers for longer-term roles, can see the value of our rich, varied, and unique professional experiences.

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Tags: Miranda, Manchester, NQT, supply, long-term, opportunities, value, experiences, recognition

Category: Australian Teachers

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