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Supply Teaching 101

UNITED KINGDOM | Tuesday, 11 November 2014 | Views [2071] | Comments [1]

At long last and far over due, I am writing a post about my recent experiences supply teaching in London. I have been lucky enough to spend time at a variety of lovely primary (aka elementary) schools in North London. Supply teaching in the UK is very similar to substitute teaching in the U.S. However, since London is so large, you work through a company and could potentially go to a different school every day, which makes it quite unique. Some classes have been hard, others easy, still others overwhelming. But I learn so much about teaching, my weaknesses, my strengths, and kids each day.

Some of my learning moments have been in the quiet at lunch, other in the chaos of a botched P.E. lesson, but they are all valuable. If you have every done supply work before, I'm sure you can relate. I have put together my personal Supply 101 of key lessons I learned in my first month of supply teaching.

1. Students will not give you their attention because you are an adult, a teacher, or knowledgeable in a subject, as it simply isn't impressive. Knowing their name on the first day, however, that is the most handy tool you could have.

2. You will only accomplish approximately 1/2 of the scheduled work on any given day depending on the weather, your familiarity with school procedures, and the hellion level of the students. Do not apologize; the teacher knew exactly what would happen.

3. Being odd, crazy, and interesting as a teacher will help accomplish more learning than any classroom management you could try.

4. There will be days when the lessons go perfectly, the students are attentive, and you think you could be a full-time teacher. Those days you will spend 3 hours marking maths to discover only 5 out of 30 student understood how to order decimals. Be grateful you get to walk away.

5. You will get offered more permanent long-term work frequently. It will be tempting, but if you think of adding at least another 3 hours of planning and marking to your day, it will be easy to say no.

6. Most work will be an hour away on the tube or bus, plus a 10 minute walk. This is a chance to see new parts of the city and to take in some of the most gorgeous sunrises you will ever see.

7.Wear trainers and pack your flats when it rains. There is nothing worse than teaching in squishy shoes.

8. When you have no control over a class (and it will happen) take a deep breath and remember you don't ever have to go back if you don't want to. Try reading a book or playing a geography and history game involving facts about your hometown/country.

9. Keep track of the nice kids, the smart kids. It is easy to write a note with problem students at the end of the day, and you will know them by name, but take time to recognize the bright, the behaved, and the kind as well.

10. Laugh when you mispronounce names. Smile at the students who are insecure or seem down. Congratulate students on a job well done. And remember you are helping to shape the future one small step at a time.

Tags: culture, learning, london, supply teaching, teacher



You have no idea how wonderful your story was for me. I had all those experiences and no one to tell it to and I never went back to a classroom again. That was 50 years ago and to this day I have no idea if I would have made a good teacher or not. I wanted to and I felt all those things you wrote about and I finally feel relief. Maybe I was good enough after all. Thank you so much for posting that story.

  kathy Leveque May 2, 2015 4:01 AM

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