Trip Of A Lifetime

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Supply vs Part-Time

Part One in my London schools rant. (Sorry if I've already said any of this.)

While I always knew that it was important to have people in your workplace who possess the sorts of skills that we should never undervalue, eg. ability to communicate (both verbally and physically), flexibility, dependability, sense of humour etc... I have never had it highlighted to me so fully as I do here in London.

As a supply teacher you have no access to anything. Including keys, resources and other teachers. Let me elaborate... because I feel the need to, not because I worry thatyou do not understand.
Keys: Under no circumstance will you be given any. Fair enough, in some school you'd been in one hell of a lot of trouble if the students got their hands on them. It means thatyou are constantly asking people to let you in. In some schools this is easy enough because any full time member of staff will have access to everywhere. In other schools however, only certain people have keys to certain rooms and inevitably none of them are around when you have 30 screaming, fighting year 9 boys wanting to get in.
Resources: In the event that you have not been left any work (50/50), there are usually two possiblities. The first is to scrounge something from the head of department which is often not pitched at the right year level and can sometimes take up no more than half the lesson time. The second option is to be prepared by having a multitude of sheets and workshops ready. The big problem here is that many schools are not willing to let you photocopy and when you prepare for a workshop, you find that you've been put in a windowless room thatseems to contain all excess furniture thatthe school doesn't yet want to throw away.
Other teachers: As a supply teacher you don't seem to exist where the full time teachers are concerned. If you end up the only supply teacher at a school on any particular day you may very well feel quite isolated and lonely as other teachers turned their chairs so that their backs face you and not achknowledge you as you ask a question like "Excuse me, but could you point me towards the toilets?"

Now, as a part-time teacher in a school things are quite different. I may still not have keys(and come report time I will be writing like a maniac for my 250 odd students) but I do have access to resources and, more importantly, to teachers.

I am not ignored when I ask a question because I am a familiar face. The rudest anyone has been to me is when they ask "What is it that you teach again?" Most of my drama classes take place in one of the drama studios, which I might add have fully functioning stage lights and black out curtains! I have access to the Internet, a computer, telephone, fridge, microwave, kettle, and have been given a shelf and chair in the office right next to the drama room. Also, whenever I need to whinge, ask a question or search for a resource, the head of drama is there. Lovely.


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