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Is it acceptable to ask for help when you're doing supply?

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by nellymay, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. I recently went into a school for the first time having been called by the agency in the morning. I haven't been driving very long and had a scary drive in so arrived a little flustered. When I arrived at my first class a woman in the classroom opposite said to ask her if I needed help - I think she was a cover supervisor. The first class contained a group of boys who refused to stop using mobiles and playing music. I asked the cover supervisor what the procedure was and she said that they were a very difficult class. She had a word with them but they were rude so she rang for support. A member of SMT came in for about 5 minutes and had a word and after that they were fine. When I got home I found that the person who dealt with supply had rung the agency 10 minutes after the end of this first lesson to complain that I'd looked nervous when I arrived, had a weak handshake and had had to ask for help from SMT.
    I had no problems with any other classes. I even had the last class in silence doing a test. What annoys me even more is that there was no work set for the lesson after a break and I couldn't find anyone to help, there were no exercise books to give me an idea what they were working on and only a few text books which were foundation GCSE (it was top set year 9) There was noone around to assist so I had to choose an exercise quickly from the GCSE book and I even managed to keep that class on task.

     
  2. I recently went into a school for the first time having been called by the agency in the morning. I haven't been driving very long and had a scary drive in so arrived a little flustered. When I arrived at my first class a woman in the classroom opposite said to ask her if I needed help - I think she was a cover supervisor. The first class contained a group of boys who refused to stop using mobiles and playing music. I asked the cover supervisor what the procedure was and she said that they were a very difficult class. She had a word with them but they were rude so she rang for support. A member of SMT came in for about 5 minutes and had a word and after that they were fine. When I got home I found that the person who dealt with supply had rung the agency 10 minutes after the end of this first lesson to complain that I'd looked nervous when I arrived, had a weak handshake and had had to ask for help from SMT.
    I had no problems with any other classes. I even had the last class in silence doing a test. What annoys me even more is that there was no work set for the lesson after a break and I couldn't find anyone to help, there were no exercise books to give me an idea what they were working on and only a few text books which were foundation GCSE (it was top set year 9) There was noone around to assist so I had to choose an exercise quickly from the GCSE book and I even managed to keep that class on task.

     
  3. ....this is why teachers find some, but all CSs, a pain and a blight on the profession. Why did she/he feel it necessary to call the agency?
    ...Ive called/asked for help including SMT intervention in the past, and Ive been teaching for 12 years...!! There is nothing wrong in doing that, shows integrity IMO, especially if work isnt supplied
     
  4. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Of course it's acceptabe. What are you supposed to do? Just let the brats do as they please. Let's deal with the three elements of the supposed complaint, which was made behind your back:
    • looked nervous. To whom? That's someone's perception, not fact.
    • a weak handshake. That is just ridiculous and again perception.
    • had had to ask for help. What is SMT for if other than to help?
    Don't go back to that school. Maybe you should complain to the HT. The person is charge of cover/supply is a m o r o n.
     
  5. It is absolutely OK to ask for help when you are doing supply ,particularly when you are in a school for the first time. The very least a school can do is welcome someone , support them and help them with pupils who are undoubtedly going to be playing up for the supply teacher. I've read posts on here where people have advised NQTs and experienced teachers to get SMT in to help with difficult classes so you as a new supply should not feel you were wrong.However the reality is that supply teachers walk into busy schools with stressed staff who can struggle to find the capacity to support you as they should. It sounds to me like you did a brilliant job particularly the after break lesson! Supply teaching , particularly in secondary schools takes resilience and a thick skin. Try to give yourself confidence by preparing some lessons that you can adapt to anything anytime , say based on a poem ,text or artwork - just anything that at least prevents you being in that horrendous situation of having nothing and a class sat in front of you. Supply teaching is hard and you did your best - not the whole day was a disaster so think about what worked well and what you could do to make it easier next time - experience will help too. Have a good half term break !
     
  6. Of course it is ok to call for help if needed. I avoid calling for help, however at the end of the day sometimes I may need it.
    However I have many tricks bluff and bluster ways of avoiding it. Also I have one big golden rule. I call help early on if I think it may go pear shaped. As it is far better than letting it go pear shaped then call for help.
    On no work set in secondary. Most of the time I am ok with that, and sometimes far better than some of the nonsense teachers scribble.
    But I could take flak for not calling for help in getting someone to find some work. Also big risk, no point in having a class full of secondaries waiting for work which may or may not turn up anyway. Or even worse some smt muppitt or HOD arriving with no work and saying I will tell them what to do, then leg it.
    Agencies, always be quick to get on the phone at the end of the day to tell them what a great day you have had. IF something iffy has happened, then do not focus on the iffy bit to much. Go through the day saying when there was no work set. Or a locked classroom, With a lot of focus on the good lessons. Basically always get your point of view in as quick as you can. On the iffy bits say how well you dealt with them
    Lets face it our CS friends working as Cover managers with their CS team calling the shots are not going to do us supply any favours. To them we are a bunch of overpaid teacher wasters, who moan on the TES forum.
    Me I suffer from paranoia and neurosis on the drive home. I go over any iffy bits and it does my head in.
     
  7. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    That's par for the course on daily supply. Learn from it - have Plans B, C, D, and E ready on a memory stick or as a pre-copied class set of sheets, or as an emergency lesson plan, and carry loads of spare pencils with you.

    Asking for SMT support with difficult kids refusing to meet simple requests is not wrong, I do it whenever it's necessary. The Cover Manager sounds like an ***, or there's some politics going on between the school and the agency that you're not privy to.
     
  8. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    I can only echo what other posters have already said on this thread:
    Its absolutely not wrong to call for SMT assistance if required, if you cannot solve a problem yourself then its the correct thing to do.
    The person who made these comments to your agency is a complete numpty.
    It sounds like you had a successful day with the remainder of your classes and managed to think on your feet when there was no work set in another lesson (this can happen a lot) and most other schools would be very happy with your contribution that day. With regards to the first lesson, if a resident CS could settle the class (remember the arguement for CSs is that they know the school and its students and therefore should have better control of behaviour) then a visiting supply will also have difficulties.
    Dont worry about this.
     
  9. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    I'm still annoyed on your behalf. You were treated discourteously at best and with downright rudeness at worst. You are entitled to be welcomed to the school just as any visitor should be, especially one who is doing something for them.
    Does the school's website have any drivel on it about being a "welcoming and accessible place for all"? Write to the HT and let off some steam at him or her. Mention how you felt when this phone call was made and that you would not want a child of your own in such an establishment. Say also that you are advising your fellow supply teachers to stear clear of the place.
     
  10. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Have a look at https://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/552698.aspx, post number 2, for some good, sound advice.
    As a former HoD, I thought it was my job to ensure that any supply teachers in my department was welcomed and informed that if they needed help it was my job and my colleagues' job to provide it.
     
  11. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    Does the HT know that a CS 'phones the agency? I can't imagine that any HT would condone this. Surely there is a staff member who has responsibility for supply staff. Did you get a chance to speak to them and tell them of the events of the day.
    What is your agency's 'take' on all this?
    TBH, I'd be hopping mad, but I know that my agency would look on this as the CS tittle-tattling and would do absolutely nothing until they had spoken to me and the staff member responsible for supply. Iknow that my agency visit schools regularly and work hard to establish good relationships with them.
    Actually, I'm just imagining if this had been me. My agency would be straight on the 'phone to the school about tale-telling.Unprofessional in the extreme, CS!!!!!!
     
  12. Pennyforyourthoughts

    Pennyforyourthoughts Occasional commenter

    Often they know that the class to be covered are difficult, or just unmanageable and sometimes its easier/good option to give the most difficult classes to the supply teachers when the cover supervisors have had enough and have the option of taking better classes. If you were following the schools behaviour policy you have nothing to fear... often we have to engage with their policies earlier than we would like...............BUT is it our faults........ no...... the fact that pupils cannot take the warnings seriously just have to carried through... as it will be a precedence for them to do it time and time again. I think that pupils poor behaviour for visitors to their school should be treated as serious and serious consequences should happen. Seems to me too many are taking the easy option to ignore behaviour ... no wonder it is escalating in our schools.
    I had support from a cover supervisor that informed the class 'you don't have to do any work - just be quiet and behave' I was shocked......... if this is what some cover supervisors are applying and getting away with, with some classes on a regular basis its no wonder that we have a tough time when we actually try to teach a structured lesson.
     
  13. This is most unprofessional of the "permanent" staff at the school.
    If this CS is going to backbite, backstab, act in an intimidating manner, make false, malicious and vexatious allegations then she must produce the following:
    1. A written account of all her observations and actions with supporting evidence.
    2. She must produce evidence of all that she told the agency. Remind her that all calls are recorded and that the agency will have recorded all the conversation. Warn her about the law on DEFAMATION!
    3. Give her a "complaints" proforma/use one from the school! or simply get her to write down the nature of the complaint. Warn her about her responsibility for telling the truth!
    I am sure she will back down and cancel her "complaint"!

    If she wants to make trouble then INSIST on the above documentation! You will find that such bullies will always back down from their lies and prejudiced fabrication!
    We willnot/must not be intimidated by such jealous bullies!

     
  14. aw27

    aw27 New commenter

    The OP did not say the CS had called the agency - s/he clearly stated the 'the person who deals with supply' made the call.
     
  15. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    That second was should have been were. I apologise.
     
  16. Thanks for all the supportive comments! I went into another school later in the week and was told by other supply teachers there that there have been a lot of problems with the school in question and people don't like going there, Usually when people say the it's because of poor behaviour but this was because of the unfriendly and unhelpful staff. I must defend the CS - she was trying to help. As she was the one who actually sent for SMT I'm assuming that was policy - I wasn't given any information.
     
  17. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    Sorry, I made the mistake about the CS.
    Note to self-read posts carefully before sticking my oar in.
     
  18. I agree with most of what has been said in support of nellymay, and in particular Siegen81to82's useful analysis of the so-called complaint. "A weak handshake"?? for crying out loud, did they bring you in to shake hands with the kids or to teach them?
    On the other hand, first impressions are important, and if you go in with a seemingly confident smile, then the person you meet first -- who may be someone surprisingly powerful or influential -- is possibly more likely to view you favourably. I'm sure you will have worked this out for yourself, but it's always worth remembering that a look of apparent confidence can help to boost your image and also your self-image, which in turn can't do any harm when you are face to face with the little darlings in the classroom.
    One more positive: your agency told you honestly what the school said. I never quite know whether to trust and believe 100% of what agencies say. If yours can be trusted to tell the truth, that is no bad thing.
    Don't let them grind you down.
     
  19. That's why I will repeat the following:
    "...
    This is most unprofessional of the "permanent" staff at the school.
    If this CS is going to backbite, backstab, act in an intimidating manner, make false, malicious and vexatious allegations then she must produce the following:
    1. A written account of all her observations and actions with supporting evidence.
    2. She must produce evidence of all that she told the agency. Remind her that all calls are recorded and that the agency will have recorded all the conversation. Warn her about the law on DEFAMATION!
    3. Give her a "complaints" proforma/use one from the school! or simply get her to write down the nature of the complaint. Warn her about her responsibility for telling the truth!
    I am sure she will back down and cancel her "complaint"!

    If she wants to make trouble then INSIST on the above documentation! You will find that such bullies will always back down from their lies and prejudiced fabrication!
    We willnot/must not be intimidated by such jealous bullies! ..."



     

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