- Posted by: Educators Wales
Supply Teacher at Glan yr Afon Primary School
How long have you worked in education?
I started working in education in September 2020, after completing my PGCE. I signed up to a Supply Teaching Agency in August and was really lucky to get into work straight away, as I thought it would take a lot longer due to COVID-19! I worked in a few different schools and luckily ended up working a few weeks back-to-back at Bryn Hafod Primary, which is part of the Rainbow Federation and is what lead me to Glan yr Afon, where I am now. Eventually an opportunity arose at Glan yr Afon for long-term supply and they offered it to me, and I bit their hand off!
How did you decide you wanted to be a teacher?
I’m not one of those people who always knew they wanted to be a teacher. Before I considered teaching, I wanted to be an actor! I auditioned for Drama Schools for a couple of years and was having no luck, so I decided to spend a summer working in a summer camp in America. Initially, I decided to go as a way of travelling and gaining some independence, but it turned out that I absolutely loved working with children. As soon as I came back, I started looking at PGCE courses and the rest is history.
What drew you to Supply Teaching?
Becoming a supply teacher was originally recommended to me from one of my placement teachers during my PGCE. His advice to me was that everyone should have a go at Supply Teaching at some point during their career because of the variety it brings. It’s an exciting aspect of education to get involved in because it does keep you on your toes every single day and you’re learning all the time. That element of constantly being in various classes and schools, and seeing different techniques work with some children that might not work with others, is what really enticed me to get involved.
I think supply helps you really hone your craft and find different teaching techniques that you might not have tried before. For me, being a new teacher, it’s given me an amazing opportunity to develop, try different techniques and learn.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
The best bit about my job is that every day is different. I genuinely love having conversations with my pupils and getting to know them. You could ask them a simple question like “what did you have for tea last night?” and they’ll blast off a 20-minute story of what they had for tea, what they did after and why it’s important to them. I love it, but I also think it’s important to them, which is why I enjoy it so much – they need that person to talk to and I’m always happy to listen.
One of my favourite times of the day is giving out the Star of the Day certificate. You can tell that it means so much to these kids – they put in so much effort and hard work so that they can see their name on the certificate. When I see their little face light up and smile when they’ve been chosen as Star of the Day, it makes me feel so inspired.
What do you consider as your biggest achievement on the job?
For me, as a supply teacher, one of the biggest achievements has been getting to know children from across the school. It’s something that I feel is really important to do as a teacher, because if you know a friend of your pupils in a different year group or their brothers and sisters, it will benefit the connection you have with the pupils in your class.
What’s the biggest challenge?
The workload can be quite intimidating to begin with, but it’s one of those things that becomes a lot easier with time. I’m lucky because the school I teach in is part of a Federation, so my workload is shared with two other teachers, so we all rotate which subjects we plan for. But, even if I was by myself, which I initially was when I first started as a Supply Teacher – it’s about being prepared. At first, it will probably feel really daunting but it does get a lot easier with practise and experience. I think one thing that helps with workload for teachers is making sure to separate home/life balance and give yourself time away from planning and marking at home too.
What would you say to someone who’s thinking about working in education?
I would say, give it a go. One of the best things about being a teacher is the community aspect of it. As a Supply Teacher, I’ve worked at many schools and in every single one, I’ve always felt supported. That’s the best bit about it – whatever position in education that you find yourself in, everyone’s got your back and it’s the best feeling. If you’re worried about taking a leap into education, there will be so many people waiting and ready to support you.