Ever considered supply work? Mair shares the pros and cons and why it works for her.
Do you feel like you are trapped in a school, a year group or a subject? Have you become so involved with the families, communities and colleagues that you’ve worked with for years that you have lost sight of what you need for yourself in this profession? We are often plagued with feelings of duty, responsibility and commitment which can stop us from exploring new paths, sometimes at the expense of our mental health. The daily grind of full time teaching often leaves us too tired to find the joy in much of what we do. Before training you envision yourself as working hard, yet enjoying much of your time with the children but this isn’t the reality for many teachers.
After working in education for nearly 10 years, I’ve recently experienced, through supply teaching, how it really feels to love teaching for sustained periods of time. In place of the fleeting glimpses of joy in amongst the constant stress and pressure, now I have the occasional stressful rush to prepare in the morning with an ongoing feeling of enjoyment. I often walk away from a day’s work feeling genuinely lucky to have found my talent as well as the purpose that fuels my passion.
Top 5 benefits
You’re able to take a holiday or even a day off whenever you want. The potential benefits to your personal life and, in turn, your mental health can’t be understated. If you find a particular class too challenging, you feel your ethos is at odds with a particular school or if there’s any other reason you don’t want to do a particular job you can just say no. Along with the flexibility, you get a sense of freedom which can feel like you are your own boss, driving motivation.
Different children and year groups
Your understanding of both child development and curriculum progression becomes far broader than being based in a particular class. Although you may not know the children you are working with very well you will be able to use things you have observed from numerous other children to meet their needs while in turn learning new things from them.
We are continuously learning from people we work with but imagine you are working with different people daily and how much potential there is to tap into their professional understanding. Working from another professional’s plans will give you a whole load of ideas and inspiration for your future planning. Putting your own spin onto the lessons with short notice will improve your teaching creativity and help you develop the skill of responding to children in the moment.
New types of teaching or new roles
Never worked in an SEN environment? Never experienced a different role such as being a TA? Now’s your chance. Try it and get a whole new perspective on the classroom and reflect deeply about your own practice. Always wanted experience in a primary or secondary school instead of where you trained? Go for it and get a broader understanding of where your students have come from or are going to.
Behaviour for learning
If you have just finished training or are looking to improve your behaviour management, then supply teaching could be the best way to throw yourself in at the deep end. You will very quickly find that you are learning new behaviour strategies daily.
Of course, it’s not for everyone
There are a number of drawbacks to being a supply teacher depending on you as an individual. If the above reasons are enough of a draw, the main thing to consider carefully is your financial position. Work is not guaranteed and therefore most people would need to be in a relatively strong position to consider supply teaching as a long-term job.
Different factors affecting how much money you could make include:
- Transport available
- The area
- How far you are willing to travel to work
- Whether schools are happy with your work and ask you back
- More and less busy times of the school year
So what have you got to lose when you have so much to gain? Whether you need a break from, or a way back into full-time teaching, this could be it.