You’re not a real teacher

by | May 25, 2021 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

When I explained to a 6 year old my role as a relief teacher, he asked me if I was “bored” doing that.

I chuckled and told him, quite the opposite.

“Supply Teacher” often brings a negative stigma amongst students, staff, and even family members.

Often we are asked when we are going to become a “real” teacher, why we don’t have our own class or are we not good enough to have our own class. 🙁

Students can be disrespectful and will try and take the mickey when they smell fresh blood or think that you aren’t a “real” teacher.

Unfortunately this branding of disrespect can trickle down from their teacher or even the whole school’s approach to supply teachers.

One mortifying experience of rudeness I encountered was when a teacher I was covering was going over with the plan for the day then, not even 10 minutes before the bell she was leaving the classroom and asked me to leave too as her handbag was in there.


So rather than getting organised and my head around the day, I left, feeling shocked and humiliated, to find somewhere to hang for a few minutes before the day started.

Luckily I haven’t come across many teachers as insolent as that one, but there are many times in a staffroom, classroom or walking around a school where I have felt very much like the outsider.

I’ve even had family members give snide remarks when they discovered I had quit a full time position to do supply teaching.

There are many reasons why people don’t teach full time. 

When I started out, it was because I hadn’t landed my own class. And boy was I desperate for one!

Later on it was because I was burnt out from teaching in the classroom and when I found out I was pregnant I didn’t want the (inevitable) stress to affect my pregnancy.

Now, I choose to Supply teach because I love teaching, but hate the workload and politics. Plus I don’t know how teachers do it with their own young families at home! What a juggle it must be!

So whatever your reason is, whether you haven’t managed to land a job, health reasons, or work/life balance then I am here to tell you, you don’t need to justify your reasons to anyone.

If they truly knew how lucky we are to be able to make a positive impact teaching children, getting paid well whilst still having a life and keeping our sanity, then they would be lining up to do it too.

Yeah, yeah, there are tough days, BUT after my stint in a classroom in a tough as school with a hard-ass class, I am grateful that I can walk away on those days and cross that class of my list if I want to. You don’t get that luxury when you are stuck with a class for a year.

And if it wasn’t for us filing in seamlessly then stressed out teachers couldn’t have their mental health days, sick teachers would feel guilty and come to school anyway and planning days would be a fantasy, putting more workload on teachers out of school time.

I’m here to remind you that our role is just as important to keep schools running smoothly, even if society likes to make us feel otherwise.

And as for being bored…I get more variety each day than I could ask for and am so grateful I get to teach on my terms!

Has anyone ever shamed you about your role as a supply/relief/substitute teacher?

1 Comment

  1. Bronwyn Cartledge

    Great article. For me it was being home with my kids and having my head in the job at home. How many teachers miss events for their own kids while teaching? How many times are teachers doing stuff at home for their classroom kids at the expense of time with their own kids? I couldn’t teach full time and be a full time mum at the same time. One job you get paid for…guess which one you have to give more to?
    I love supply teaching because I give 5 hours a day and get paid for that. How many f/t teachers get paid a 5 hour day but work more than 8 with no overtime pay? The extra 6 weeks holidays that teachers get equates to only 300 hours. Most teachers would do the extra 300 hours every term!
    I also love the freedom to say no to work if I want a long weekend, or no to classes I’ve had that were abysmal and rude. No planning, no staff meetings, no parents to deal with, no excessive emails and bureaucratic crud across your desk every day, boundaries! I love my job!

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