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What A Day!

Siobhan is an primary teacher from Sydney who decided to move to the UK after university to teach in schools in London through Protocol Education. Siobhan shares with us how you work out what your day will be like when on supply. 

At the beginning of the school year, I went back to daily supply and was going back into schools for only a day or two.  Some of the schools were new to me and others were ones I'd been in plenty of times before, though not in the last six months due to my longer term placement.  I found that I could tell what the day was going to be like by 9.30 and it honestly had very little to do with the student's behaviour.

First impressions count
Just as I have only one shot at making a good first impression, so do the schools.  The arrival and greeting I get from the front office will give a general overview of how I am seen.  A cursory glance and barely a 'hello' tells me that I am not important, not going to be seen as a person, and that I am just the supply.  This means that it is either not a friendly school or there are so many supplies that come and don't stay, they don't feel it's worth getting to know me.  Conversely, a friendly greeting from the front office gives off a positive and friendly impression and I immediately feel optimistic about the day ahead.  This is, however, the first impression.

Do you have a name?
Some schools will have someone walk around and show me where things are and make introductions for me.  This is always appreciated and gives off the impression of a friendly school.  For other schools, I have to find my own way and make my own introductions, but I am usually fine with this and it doesn't mean it is an unfriendly school.  However I am absolutely astounded at people who do not introduce themselves back!  I mean really, how long does it take to say 'Hi, I'm *insert name here*, nice to meet you'?  I have gone into some schools where the class TA with whom I'll be working doesn't even tell me their name and I even had a school where I had to find the deputy head and ask if he was actually the person I was after because he didn't volunteer that information despite the fact that organising the supplies was part of his job.  The way other teachers respond to me initially tells me a lot about how much support I'm going to get from them with my teaching and the behaviour management.

Organisation... or lack of!
The organisation of the teacher I am replacing varies drastically.  Some teachers are so organised they have the worksheets printed, photocopied and cut, and the plans to go with the lesson sitting next to it.  Other teachers have been known to leave a learning objective and I must work around that.  Both of these situations are fine with me because I can come up with lessons around a learning objective if I need to, and I can follow plans where I have to.  The worst type is a teacher who has high expectations but low organisation.  Some teachers have been known to tell me they will leave the website up but then I have to pull them out of their PPA because they haven't and I can't work the lesson how they want without it.  Others leave me photocopying to do but not a code with which to use the machine so I stress out trying to find someone who will give me their code.  High expectations and clear outlines for lessons only work with a supply if the resources needed are left.  When they are not it can be very stressful for me, especially when the school has not shown themselves to be friendly so far.

The first half hour
Lastly, the interactions within the classroom for the first half hour of the day will cement my idea of a school as friendly or not.  Students will always try and push the supply and behaviour in the first part of the day is usually toughest.  How well students respond to the behaviour systems in place and how supportive the TA is make or break for the day.

Without a friendly and supportive staff, it can often feel like it is me versus the rest of the school.  I was once told that I can't make children learn, but I can provide them with the most supportive environment possible.  As a supply, the school has already created the environment and I am simply stepping into it and trying to adapt.  This is what makes a day good or bad, not the student's behaviour, or what they're studying, or the technology they use, or the location.  Luckily for me, most of the schools I've been sent to have been very friendly.

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Tags: Siobhan, Protocol Education, Supply Teaching, Organisation, Learnings, Impressions, Education, Arrival, Australian

Category: Australian Teachers

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