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Mind Boggling!

Miranda is a Primary Supply Teacher working in schools through Protocol Education in Manchester. In her latest blog Miranda shares her frustrations of covering someone's class.

Mind boggling! The fun of being a supply.

What often amuses me (we have to get our kicks somewhere and, lets face it, it’s unlikely to be in the staff room…) about teaching someone else’s class, is the way that a teacher always believes their reality is the reality. A teacher busy on an in-house course or taking PPA etc. will take you through their day, and often appear dumbfounded if there are areas of their planning that appear incomprehensible to you.

‘Just do a  TTYP session to begin with,’ a member of staff said last week, one eye on the clock. ‘Then maybe in your plenary you can do TOL.’ I considered nodding with a bright second hand car salesman’s smile. But finally  had to admit to myself that I wouldn’t be fulfilling my brief if I didn’t understand what on earth I was doing. He seemed completely flummoxed to have to explain ‘Talk To Your Partner’ and ‘Think Out Loud.’ I found myself wishing that I had a partner to talk to and that I had thoughts of my own that were polite enough to be repeated out loud.

Maths groups in the plan were organised as LA, HA, MA, which I do understand, although this was clearly not what the children called themselves. I spent ten minutes trying to work out from the children’s expressions, and the way they dealt with handing out the books on their table, whether the triangles were the top, middle or bottom set. In the end, I allowed the kids to look over the worksheets and select the level at which they were comfortable working. This sort of worked, though marking revealed that some had decided to give themselves an easy morning while others had overplayed their hand and given themselves a mathematical brain-freeze. 

The class teacher reappeared at lunchtime to tell me that Commando Jo was being replaced by Healthy Mike at two, so not to worry about PL4 and just focus on getting the children to complete their Roman diary with a focus on section C. I decided not to worry. I decided to have lunch, which in any context amounts to not quite enough cheese sandwiches.

The idea that what you understand is only what there is to understand, is, I suppose, one of those mini metaphors for life. We all become institutionalised by our workplace and – to get deep for a moment – by our own lives. One of the major and unique advantages of supply teaching is that you are passing through, so you get the opportunity to see into other people’s classrooms - other microcosms and the rules they live by. Yours is a birds-eye view, and like a magpie, you can fly in and steal all the best gems for your own practice.

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Tags: Miranda, Protocol Education, Supply teaching, Teacher, Primary, lessons, learning

Category: Australian Teachers

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