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COVID-19. A way back in or a way out?

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by kbhawkins686, Jun 10, 2020.

  1. kbhawkins686

    kbhawkins686 New commenter

    Hello all,
    I'm here as I have a genuine interest in how fellow supply teachers are feeling at the moment with COVID-19 floating around.

    You see, throughout my 20's I worked as a Nursery Nurse and a Learning Support Assistant. Nudged and prodded into teaching, I became qualified in 2017. Through thick and thin, including the abrupt and heartbreaking early diagnosis of dementia of my mother, I passed my induction year in 2 separate but unsupportive schools. I was proud as punch that I made it through the toughest of odds.

    To help come to terms with the dementia diagnosis and to redevelop my confidence after those initial experiences, I went into supply last April and I have really enjoyed it. Before COVID-19 I had a developed close relationships with schools and their pupils and with this received regular work. I was even showered with gifts from time to time. I am a good little teacher, I excel with pupil relationships and the kids just love me. Supply definitely reinvigorated that love of working with children I felt in my 20's.

    Then COVID-19 happened. I'm currently furloughed with a wonderful agency who adore and respect me and the hard work I do. However, in the last couple of months I have completely separated myself from the world of education. I mean completely. It was all brought back to me yesterday when an old mentor from my training pointed me towards a position in his school where I trained. "This is ideal for you, you'd be perfect for the job". Maybe it is and maybe I would be.

    But, in the last 2 months, I have had a lot of time to think and reassess my life, goals and passions.I questioned was I using supply as a way back into teaching, waiting for an ideal opportunity like the one I just stated? Or, reflecting sadly, was I using supply as a way out of teaching?

    With a decade of hard work behind me, coupled with a rough start in teaching and a poor mother who relies on me for most things now, COVID-19 made me realise that I may be bummed out from education.
    However, the crux of it all is that I do enjoy teaching. I love having those little lives look up to me. I love making a difference. Right now, on my desk, sits a mug stating "Thank you for always believing in me Mr Hawkins, love [childs name]". I am so proud of it.

    I presume I'll stay on the supply books a little longer but I think COVID-19 has given me the time to conclude that it may be time to move on to greener pastures as they say.

    How has everyone else been feeling about returning? Has COVID-19 given you time to reflect and reassess?
    COVID-19 aside, how have others seen supply teaching. Have you used it as a way back into teaching? Or a way out?

    Sorry for the long message, i just needed to communicate it all with someone who could appreciate it.

    Thanks folks,

    ZainabN and gingerhobo48 like this.
  2. bounceback

    bounceback Occasional commenter

    I think it depends on your own personal circumstances. If you need a regular income the permanent job is appealing, however, the work load will be heavy and will impact on the amount of time you will have free to help your mum. This could become very stressful for you.
    Supply is obviously more flexible, but not a reliable source of income, especially at the moment.
    If you want to get out of teaching, stick with supply while you explore your options. From what I have heard anecdotally the civil service have good career opportunities and are fairly flexible with working hours for those with caring responsibilities. Other people may be better informed on this than me though.
    gingerhobo48 likes this.
  3. historygrump

    historygrump Star commenter Forum guide

    Kbhawkins, I am sorry to hear about your mother and I can understand your concerns, The permanent posts may be attractive and especially if you could do a job share approach, and so allow you time with your mother.

    I have looked and in the holidays, tried other jobs, including the civil service, but they do not in my case provide the stimulus that teaching provides, but you are younger and the stability may provide the time you need to care for your mother. However in respect to returning to schools as a supply, it is like riding a bike, you will be nervous at first, especially when the kids will have to be tamed and trained o semi-social again, especially at secondary level, my god they will be a pain for at least a term.
  4. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I don't think I'll ever forget my first few months on supply.
  5. SineField

    SineField Occasional commenter

    Supply gets a bad rep, but many people miss the point entirely of why it can be invaluable...

    Supply is an outstanding transitionary mechanism for either dipping your toe into a permanent teaching position or for those in the 'gig economy' who have multiple small jobs or for those who are intent on leaving teaching entirely.

    I say it again, never underestimate the value of either being able to leave school at 3.15pm without a care or knowing that if anyone in SLT starts to get shitt* with you, you can calmly walk out of the door and never return, without any negative probs re: references... etc.

    F F S.... the notion of being a teacher these days is highly dubious anyway, in reality they are "Curriculum deliverers" with all the creativity of a dead toad. Apart from the deluded or those decreasing few who are in good schools, it just ain't worth the grief. Supply can be mana from heaven in terms of a better work/life balance!
  6. historygrump

    historygrump Star commenter Forum guide

    Sinefield, well said, it is amazing how much you learn from supply in people management, not taking yourself to seriously, unlike some permanent teachers who lack the ability to engage the students, because they so full of their own self-importance, to the ability to see the difference in well managed schools and schools that are so PC and poorly managed the kids are all but in charge. One of the best things is as Sinefield says is having the ability to say 'no' to a school in the future, because of the poor management, poor treatment of you and poorly behaved students.

    I must admit, if I ever went back into a permanent post, it would be only part-time and not full-time, I do not need the stress or bull.... that can come with a permanent full-time post.
  7. gingerhobo48

    gingerhobo48 Star commenter

    I think it could go both ways for me.Supply teaching now post Covid 19 could force me out of teaching daily supply which is what I wanted to do as I can’t see there being the work:(.It could make me look for something more permanent which I think I should be doing as I’m worried about my pension contributions.I was saying to my friend though only last week( we are both in our 50’s) that this pandemic has really made me realise that life really is too short.Too short for all the grief that can be attached to a full time role:(.It has made me realise that I have missed teaching but not being a teacher.My friend and I both feel we are getting too old.We don’t have the stamina and we both realise what an effect it can have on your mental health.Stress is really bad for your body.My friend only went in x3 over 10 weeks.Now she is back full time and back to feeling despondent:(.
    Teaching for me feels like a struggle now, a battle which I am losing against a system especially in Early Years that doesn’t sit right with me.If I was in Early Years every day I don’t think I would be happy.I was thinking of getting more junior experience.I still
    might explore that but these are uncertain times and I’m not sure what will be out there for me:(.
    agathamorse and peakster like this.
  8. SineField

    SineField Occasional commenter

    I will NEVER return to any permanent teaching position in this country. I have seen the truly bizarre, metamorphic and disturbing change that can occur when a supply teacher "gets converted" by their school into taking on a permanent post.

    Keep the balance of power in your corner at all costs, the small reduction in pay is easily a worthwhile trade off.

    I have had so many agencies asking (almost begging) me to consider permanent posts at schools they have on their books...... I won't do it. I WILL NOT DO IT.

    Most "modern" schools are such left-wing insane asylums, and as any student of politico-economics understands, left-wing ideology requires the unquestioning obedience of its workforce, in order to control and indoctrinate.

    Be honest...How many times as a supply teacher have you been in a school, looked around and listened to what was going on and just thought, "W T F are you idiots gabbering on about?!?"

    Being a supply teacher can be like being Neo from The Matrix when he gets disconnected from "the system"!
  9. BTBAM85

    BTBAM85 New commenter

    How do you mean?
  10. abwdSTEM

    abwdSTEM Occasional commenter

    Like @historygrump I also tried other jobs including the Civil Service but decided that the Civil Service was a better option for me and have been out of Supply Teaching for over two years now. Whilst I can agree that it doesn't provide the stimulus that teaching did I haven't looked back. The pay has now streaked ahead of what teaching did, the job is far less hassle and there are other benefits such as paid leave/pension/sick leave etc. As for less stimulus (its not totally lacking though) I get that from volunteering with a charity, playing musical instruments badly, fixing up an old motorbike and learning fly fishing.

    Put your and your family needs first and job needs second (or third after fly fishing :))
  11. historygrump

    historygrump Star commenter Forum guide

    abwdSTEM, it may be due to the part of the civil service you work, in my case it was with the tax office call centre and I hated the use of the computers, and trying to get money off people, which made me feel awful and I hated it. It did not help that it was meant to be part-time flexible shirt pattern and they decided to make it a full-time set shirt pattern.
  12. kbhawkins686

    kbhawkins686 New commenter

    I would just like to thank you all for the replies to my original post. You share valuable insights and experiences.
    I qualified in my early 30's and I thought that was it, I'm trapped with a one-track degree. With some of the suggestions here, and inspired research I have realised that this is not the case.
    Gingerhobo put it best. Life is too short and it took COVID' for me to not realise it but act on it.

    I didn't apply for the job I mentioned but I am remaining on the supply books for the time being. I have a four week placement booked for the end of September, but I am actively seeking new work that coincides with my hobbies and interests. My agent is supporting me and she has rallied a couple of headteachers to give me a character reference should I need it.

    It's heartbreaking but I have to let go of teaching. When the man comes around I want to be able to say I lived poor in wealth but rich in happiness, not the other way round.

    Stay safe people and I thank you all once again.

    bertiehamster likes this.

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