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Teacher, teach thyself

Miranda is a Primary Supply Teacher working in schools through Protocol Education in Manchester. Miranda points out that while you have your freedoms supply teaching it is important to keep up to date with CPD, even if you have the incur the cost yourself. 

Teacher, teach thyself

At times, when supply teaching, you can feel like you fell off the career ladder and are peering up through the rungs, as others stride on upwards.  It’s true that there are a few opportunities to train in-house through agencies, but having covered for teaching staff that are attending courses, it’s clear that decent schools will invest a great deal in the professional development of their staff team, when they can see the added value. As supply teachers, it’s important that we stay on top of our game, especially if no one is pushing us to do so,  and no one (apart from ourselves) really notices if we don’t... at least not for a while.

On the bright side,  supply teaching can be a great way to specialise and build your own CPD experiences. Of course, we all know it’s not an exact science – we must go where we are bidden, that’s the job. But, having decided on a particular interest in developing my Early Years and KS1 pedagogy, I’ve asked  Protocol for work in this area, and explained that I’m willing to travel further afield for these particular jobs.  I’ve now been offered some good opportunities to tailor my experiences to the kind of role I would like to take on when I finish supply work and take on a full-time job.

What I wanted to learn, when I wanted to learn it

The courses are trickier to come by. I’ve taken one or two in drama, poetry and delivering literacy to reluctant readers and writers. I paid for them myself though and it cost me hundreds. And I have to admit to inwardly seething as other teachers (being paid for by their schools) took the courses more lightly, lingered at the coffee machines, flirted, and chatted a bit at the back. There’s nothing like forking out £250 to turn you into an active learner (perhaps that’s the way forward with your truculent Year 6s. Make them pay for our lessons with their pocket money?  That’ll keep ‘em motivated).  However, because I was paying myself, the courses provided exactly what I wanted to learn, when I wanted to learn it.

I’ve also shadowed an excellent creative writing practitioner, a visual artist and a children’s storyteller, who run workshops in schools. I just asked them if I could, and they all seemed chuffed and glad of someone else to chat to in the car.  Supply is a real opportunity to sew your own career pathway.

Courses run by the Union

The unions run some great sounding courses. The TUC has a full range that strike me as pertinent to the teaching landscape right here and now. Many of these are free to members. Think of a buzz word that keeps leaping out and frightening you (‘Active learning’, the ‘Inclusive classroom practitioner’ anyone?) and the TUC has a course to cover it. There are also quite a few courses geared at teachers wanting to change or reshape their career s– NQTs, non-specialists taking on Early Years, Key Stage changers etc. The ATL also runs courses - many free to members - and they appear to offer quite a few online. A good way to mug up on time for job interviews? Not that I’m suggesting taking short-cuts of course.  Just to cover all bases, I should add that the NASUWT offers courses, though from a quick scan, it appears that most of them are geared at training for union reps.

With supply teaching freedoms come responsibilities…I try to see it that way as I make time for my CPD, pay for it myself and, occasionally, lose a day’s pay in return for the long-term benefits of updating my skills.


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Tags: Miranda, Protocol Education, Teaching, Supply,

Category: Australian Teachers

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