Relief Teacher (after 25yrs classroom teaching Jnr primary)
WA – Rockingham Area.
Average days you work?
2/3 days per week
Do you get enough work?
What is the craziest thing that has happened to you while teaching?
We had a young aboriginal boy in Ppy who was taken away from his mother in the country and was living with relatives in the suburbs. He’d never been to school and was used to fending for himself- learnt to make toast at 3 so he could eat!!! Would hang with 10 yr olds in their town!!
He used to swear lots and he’d wee & poop in the home corner or around the playground!! We had to teach him how to act and what words he couldn’t say as he had no idea how to behave. It wasn’t his fault, he just knew no better. That was challenging, funny and sad all at the same time.
What is one of your most memorable moments?
I had a class of 18 children. That was a wonderful year. We achieved so much.
Another sad but memorable moment was when we discussed the death of a newborn sibling in class. The mum bought in the tiny clothes, a picture, and a few bits and pieces. We dealt with it in a very loving, sensitive way. All the children new this mum & new there was supposed to be a baby. Then there wasn’t! The mum asked if she could talk to the class to help her eldest daughter share & grieve. It sounds awful but it was actually a lovely experience.
What do you love about Relief Teaching?
No reports or useless, waste of time paperwork that Admin expect you to do for no real reason!!!
What do you hate about Relief Teaching?
The quiet times of the year when you aren’t working. Sometimes the behavior management can be an issue!
Plus the new App system I hate! If you don’t live on your phone you miss work!!
Would you prefer to have your own class?
Yes as I’m a control freak and loved doing things my way and no as I hated all the bull$&#t paperwork.
Is teaching what you thought it would be?
Yes, a very rewarding profession. 25 yrs ago it was wonderful as in yr 1 or 2 you could immerse your class in themes and I feel they enjoyed learning and got a lot more incidental knowledge out of it. As the style of learning has changed over the years I feel a lot of fun and incidental learning has gone out of it.
What is your morning routine when waiting for the call?
I don’t answer morning calls. I’ve told the admin to text/ ring me up to 10pm at night but I won’t answer a 6 am call!! I’m spoilt I guess because so far it’s working. I get lots of prebookings. I’m only at 3 schools.
Do you deal well with the uncertainty of supply work?
I’m lucky as I’m not the main breadwinner so my husband is happy if I do 2/3 days a week. If I don’t get work for a few weeks it’s annoying but not financially draining on us. I get on with my hobbies.
If you could magically change the education system, what would you do?
Just a quick off the top of my head….Shrink class sizes, allocate a TA/EA (assistant) to every classroom K-6, employ many, many more Speech and Occupational therapists for the Jnr years. That’s just to start with.
What is the worst thing you have seen a supply teacher do?
Sit on their phones all day & ignore the kids!! Or, this is not their fault, but we have had many Indian relief teachers whose accents have been very strong and they have had problems with classes not being able to understand them. This has been a real issue! I’m honestly not being racist but it is a big problem.
What is your biggest pet peeve that a supply teacher would do?
Leave my classroom in a mess or leave loads of behavior issues for me to deal with.
If you could give a supply teacher any device when coming into your classroom, what would it be?
I always left a DWP & I used to leave a note that said I was happy for them to do all or none of the lessons but please keep the children busy, settled and under control. No hyper activities – that’s usually when the relief teacher loses them & the bad behaviour starts!
What do you do to unwind after a hard day?
If I have had an emotionally draining day I like to aimlessly roam around Coles looking for nothing in particular! Then go home & have a glass or 3 of wine!!