On supply and in demand

18th April 2008 at 01:00
I decided at the end of my primary PGCE course to try supply teaching. I was apprehensive about what I was letting myself in for, but having been doing it since September, I've found it is a great end to my training.

Supply teaching has allowed me to enhance my skills, while running a classroom on my own, directing teaching assistants, trying out behavioural techniques, teaching different year groups and establishing relationships with children at a fast rate.

It's also a great way to watch other teachers and pinch ideas. I no longer have the "student" label and I'm seen as an equal in the school for the short time I'm there. It's nice to be able to focus on the practical aspects of teaching and get them right without having to worry about planning and paperwork. There'll be plenty of time for that later.

I'm not suggesting that supply teaching has been easy and the best thing since bread came sliced, because that wouldn't be true. Two headteachers have said to me: "If you can cope with supply teaching, it does not get any harder than that," and "You are probably taking the hardest route in."

Both comments were somewhat distressing to a newly qualified teacher, but also ones that have made me proud and more confident, because I am coping and growing like a flower in the process, eager to see more of the light.

I am getting a taste for the schools in my area. I know the ones where I would like a permanent position, should it come up, and equally the schools get a good opportunity to see what I can offer - a great way to find a position that is equally beneficial to both parties. I am forming positive relationships and doing the most effective networking possible.

As a supply teacher, I am careful to mark whatever I teach, but all the plans are there when I step into the classroom, or at least they should be. If you are going to embark on this journey, it's a good idea to have activities up your sleeve to whip out at an appropriate juncture: a supply teacher kit. After all, if they are effective activities you can use them again later on.

Through supply teaching, I am getting into the swing of things, so if you find yourself as a newly qualified teacher in the same position for whatever reason, don't fear it, or if you do, feel the fear and do it anyway. You will be glad you did.

Katie Walton is an NQT in Hertfordshire.

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