The Diary of a Supply Teacher with Uniform Education

The Diary of a Supply Teacher with Uniform Education

Posted on 20/02/2021 by Dan Grace

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Continuing our lively introductions to the team at Uniform Education, we’re shining the spotlight on the life of one of our multi-skilled supply teachers, laid-back Canadian Brett.

My alarm goes off…. 

I’m a supply teacher, meaning I provide cover in schools as needed.  Because no two days are the same, I’ll set my alarm depending on what I’m doing that day. If I already know I’m doing a job, I’ll do a bit of research on the school and check my journey time (if it’s a short walk away, that’s a bonus!).  If not, I’ll get up just before 7am, just to let the agency know I’m available, and to see if any jobs have come in.

I take care of…

I live in High Barnet, so I teach in a lot of schools around that area – Borehamwood and Edgeware, for example.  I don’t specialise in any particular subject or school year; I cover it all so there’s a lot of variety, which I love.  Teaching in every school year also brings some great perspective on where the kids are going, and where I can best help them succeed. There are some local schools where I’ve become a familiar face, and that can make it easier for me in terms of introductions and structure.  It’s particularly great if the kids already know me!

My first steps into education started…

I’ve been a teacher for around 16 years, working in a range of settings including private tutoring.  I love travelling, and I first decided to get into teaching when I was relaxing on a beach in Australia one day!  It was a lightbulb moment for me. Teaching means you can work in schools all over the world, hanging out with children and inspiring their minds. I’m easily bored by routine, so supply teaching a wide range of subjects really works for me (though I’ve got soft spots for geography and social science). I’ve been working with Uniform Education for roughly three years now.  The agents are great to work with and everyone’s really friendly and accommodating, there’s a lot of rapport between us all.  

The first thing I do when I get to work? 

Though I love the versatility of my role, my day at school begins in the same way every time.  Because we’re not permanent staff, it’s important for supply teachers to set a routine from the start, so I get into the classroom, switch on the projector and let the kids know my steps to a good morning! The steps are simple: come in quietly, sit in your chair, silently read, listen for your name.  They work for any class and any situation, and I’ll build the lesson up from there.

My normal day looks like…

There is no ‘normal’ day when you’re a supply teacher!  90% of the time I’ll have a lesson plan, but otherwise I have to figure things out for myself.  I never mind having to do that – I’ve always got a billion ideas I can use.

While I’d describe my teaching style as relaxed, I’m always very on task.  My lessons are properly structured, and then I’ll leave 5-10 minutes at the end to share stories and for the kids to ask me any questions they like about the world.  Their questions are totally random…I’ll be asked everything from why rainbows exist, to what football team I support! 

My toughest moment…

I wouldn’t say there’s any one ‘toughest moment’, it’s more like lots of little ones every now and then.  I hate it when a kid interrupts others’ learning, or when one makes it their personal mission to disrupt me.  Most of the time though, I roll with the punches and can laugh it off.

My proudest moment? 

Again, there’s no one moment that has made me particularly proud, it’s more like a slow build-up of success by a thousand steps.  Those steps happen when you can see a lightbulb moment in someone’s learning, or you get a hug, or they ask if they’re seeing you again tomorrow.

What’s the best part of my job? 

Opening minds up to endless possibilities.

What’s the worst part of my job? 

I’m a perfectionist!  If a kid doesn’t understand something, and I can’t come back the next day to help out more, or to try something else with them, that’s the worst.

What I would tell myself on my first day…

I’m a chilled person who takes every day mostly as it comes, so I don’t think there’s any one thing I’d say…maybe apart from telling myself to buy up some stock in Apple or Bitcoin!   I think it was Shakespeare who said that “life is not a dress rehearsal” and I like to live by that philosophy.

In my spare time…

I like to keep busy and for life to stay interesting.  I run an aerial film company in my free time, so I tend to come home from school to a million emails.  I’m also a bass guitarist, and I love getting outside wherever I can.  In fact I’m currently working on converting a van into a mobile office!

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