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We All Have Bad Days

A day of supply can sometimes be tough and it's easy to be isolating. Susan has recently become a supply teacher and she reminds us that we can all have bad days, and that it's ok.

I’ve been teaching for fifteen years, including ten years in a deprived London area and have had some troublesome pupils along the way. However, even with all my knowledge and experience supply teaching has thrown some tough days at me.

I had a block of PE teaching booked in as my first longer term supply. I was thankful to have work between my travels and the new head teacher at this school was someone I knew would have strict policies.

After two easy days of settling in, I had a year ten girls class who have college two days a week as schools not really suited to them. Now they clearly get away with a lot at home and maybe around school who knows, but most didn’t have kit, and no note just ‘I don’t do PE miss’. When you first meet a class you never know who actually shouldn’t be doing PE, and who is pulling a fast one so I just note down what they say and follow it up after. Id not planned anything as I hadn’t been given a timetable at this point, and we had no indoor space which would have been better for this kind of group. So we went outside as the girls said they wanted to run? Well that was a positive comment, not many girls offer to run even in nice weather. So out we went and off they ran around the field for what should have been a warm up lap, well what they meant was ‘we want to give you the run around’! They literally started to run around the school grounds, as if I am going to chase them. It was like a game of hide and seek to them. I think I must have been in shock, I couldn’t believe 15 year old girls would just run and hide. I had the on call teacher come out, they were dealt with and I was left wondering what on earth I can get these girls to do over the next few weeks.

I saw them again on Friday. This is when they tell me ‘we scared the other teacher off miss, we don’t want to scare you off but you’ve got a tough time ahead!’ My reply was ‘you haven’t scared them off, they have better things to do!!’ What a start hey. Anyway we get on with what we can, there are seven without kit, that’s more than are actually doing it, god help me!!! The most surreal moment with this class though was when I had four non doers, the rest were happily playing basketball when one of the non-doers asked to get a sanitary towel as she had started her period. Now I don’t often let pupils go to the toilet in a lesson but this is one excuse I can’t ignore. Well when she returned she had a pocket full or sanitary items, no idea why the office gave her that much. The four non doers then preceded to take the tampons out the wrappers, stick them up their noses, and chew the applicators and again leaving me speechless. You couldn’t make it up!

After lots of detentions, chatting to the head of department, some of their parents about the lack of participation and organising short activities to keep them motivated I did manage to get all taking part in PE at some stage, they even broke into a sweat in some lessons. This is the kind of class that would put teachers off either supply or teaching altogether. It was hard, and made me question my decision to quit a job I was comfortable in earlier that year. But they are just children, they say things without thinking or understanding the repercussions and we are there to guide them. I laugh at these moments know, and will always wonder how they got on after I left them.

We all have bad days, no matter what level of experience you have, get through it, then laugh at it!

Susan is an experienced secondary teacher who is currently working a supply teacher with our Chelmsford branch. This is her second blog. If you missed her first one you can find it here

Tags: SusanW, Chelmsford, Secondary

Category: Australian Teachers

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