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Lonely on supply

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by Dance49, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. I've been doing daily supply since October now and am finding things quite lonely at the moment. Although I get call backs to the same schools its not the same as last year for instance where I had university colleagues and slotted into placement staff groups with ease. I think I just miss having a network of colleagues/friends at work where you get more than perhaps a grumbled hello. Being single maybe compounds this.
    Do you find daily supply isolating? How do you deal with it?
  2. I've been doing daily supply since October now and am finding things quite lonely at the moment. Although I get call backs to the same schools its not the same as last year for instance where I had university colleagues and slotted into placement staff groups with ease. I think I just miss having a network of colleagues/friends at work where you get more than perhaps a grumbled hello. Being single maybe compounds this.
    Do you find daily supply isolating? How do you deal with it?
  3. Yes, I do at times. The last couple of weeks have been better as I've met quite a few other supplies from my agency in various schools so I've chatted with them. But otherwise I just keep my head down, get my marking done and go home asap. Once home I'm happy that i don't have any prep to do for the next day. I also have my husband home so have someone to chat to. I think you will need to build yourself a very good friendship network so at least you have people to chat to once you've finished school.
  4. WeeMcBeastie

    WeeMcBeastie New commenter

    I totally understand where you're coming from.
    I have been doing supply since September and have got so fed up of sitting in staffrooms and being ignored and feeling uncomfortable that I avoid them completely. I am generally sociable but feel the nature of supply is turning me into a recluse! There's always plenty of marking to do in KS2 at lunch times but it can get boring sitting in a KS1 classroom on your own.
    However, I am grateful that supply in my area seems to be pretty busy. I also like having more time and energy to spend with family and friends outside of work than I had when I was on contract. Mind you, I'd better get used to it as I'm finding it virtually impossible to get shortlisted for longer term posts as I'm now on M5! It sounds as if you are an NQT, fingers crossed you get something soon in a nice friendly school.

  5. Mrs-Pip

    Mrs-Pip New commenter

    Take advice from someone who has been on supply for 100 years...work colleagues are NOT your friends.
  6. bigpig

    bigpig New commenter

    True - Do you not have friends outside of school? I have found that I only keep in touch with a random couple of people I met through working in a school, once you have left unless you have something in common that keeps you meeting up, you will be forgotten about. Friends who have nothing to do with work are usually better and last longer.
    Sometimes you will get ignored in a staffroom, when on a days work I always make an effort to go into the staffroom for my lunch. If I then get ignored I may sit there for a bit or go back to class, but this has only happened once. Going into the staffroom gets you noticed (slightly) and if you try chatt to the other staff they will hopefully welcome you back next time. I went back to a school I'd not been to for nearly a year the other day and lots of the staff said 'oh we've not seen you for ages, how are you?'.
    If you do get a staffroom where you get ignored, then you don't have to go back there. Get to the end of the day, go home and think 'I'm glad I don't work there'
  7. historygrump

    historygrump Star commenter Forum guide

    It is down to the ethos of the school, I have been to schools in which the HT shakes your hand and addresses you by your name and tells you to make yourself a drink or in one primary the TA makes you a drink at break time or the staff in the staffroom speak to you. But I have been to many where they don't speak to you, totally ignore your presence and in secondary schools you find that there are cliques within the staffroom to the extent that many teachers keep within their own departmental staffrooms due to this.
    At the end of the day, if a school staff is bad mannered that is their problem, I will go in and do my job and you find that in many cases the kids are more polite then the staff in some schools, which makes a mockery of the idea that teachers are a role model. But as we all know we are supply and supply is a lonely role within education and in some schools our vital role is appreciated and in others it is not
  8. Pennyforyourthoughts

    Pennyforyourthoughts Occasional commenter

    I have been a supply teacher now for 12 years or so and yes it can be quite lonely on supply but nevertheless you are still fabric of the school and as one other poster mentioned if you are regular enough over a period of time some mention they notice your absence. But of course school staff changes and that can affect how you feel about a school also and return visits no longer the same as before and its yet another Ground Hog Day. I go to quite a few schools whose staff rooms really buzz with staff every break and lunch they chat and share worries and problems and generally communicate to eac hother............ even lots of laughter. I think this is because there is free tea and coffee and a canteen trolley with snacks and cakes as well as sandwiches and pasta tubs etc to buy for lunch but also because the head advises it.... staff who work and laugh together in the staff room generally work better together and able to support each other.. Now on the flip side to this.................. well we have all been there........ rows of seats ............. empty ..........and the room taken over by TAs and support staff.................. very few staff to be seen......... where are they....we often have reports to hand to HODs or to discuss the next lessons with a subject teacher or just need to complete some school behavioural forms... but o one to be seen to get hold of for a consultation. What is obvious in these schools is........ they rely on the school Email system to get to all quarters of the school to deliver the information that they should be having a one to one chat with .... they get frustrated that these emails are not sorted quick enough... eg right away....... with sometimes up to 80/100 staff all writing these round robins (usually nothing to do with you BUT you feel you have to read just in case it is) it takes an absolute age to go through them.......... .... With schools like this they cluster in department cubby holes and become paranoid afraid to venture into the staff room and often want to off load their anxieties to an independant person ... yep the supply................... Oh how thankful I have been not to be in full time employment on many an occassion. However, my advice is ................be consistent ....be seen, be prepared to start a conversation but equally be aware and prepared to be sidelined for more important chat that others have to get done in break or lunch time, go to the library, take a walk around the school or pop in to a lunchtime club if you know of one and sometimes, yes sometimes if you have not got your head in a book or phone you may get someone who invites you to sit with them or even get a slice of the conveyor belt of birthday cakes ... I seemed to be working it right lately......birthdays everywhere.

    Embrace the quiet space .......... as permanent teachers struggle to find one these days.
  9. WeeMcBeastie

    WeeMcBeastie New commenter

    Definitely agree, work colleagues are NOT your friends!
    I am only really in touch with one former colleague from the school I left 18 months ago, despite being in regular contact and socialising with about 5 of them whilst working there! You are very quickly forgotten it seems.
    In my last school, it was actually something to look forward to that the end of my contract also meant the end of having to be polite to some of quite possibly, the biggest numpties I've ever had the misfortune to encounter!

  10. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    I think the trick is to work on your Clint Eastwood persona. Given that as a supply you are a nameless non-person anyway, you might as well embrace it, wear the poncho, light the cheroot and work on your menacing stare. Then you become the enigmatic loner with no name who rides into town and cleans up the bad guys.

    Something like this. (To the smart **** kids on the back row - "I don't think it's nice, you laughing.")

    So, next time you're on supply, you stroll past the Deputy's office in your poncho and drawl "Get three detentions ready.." and look on your loneliness as an opportunity.
  11. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    if lonely at breaks, take a walk around the playgrounds, the fresh air and a bit of sun can make a big difference and of course, the children will come and talk to you.
    The thing i like the most about supply work is the free evenings, so get a social life going that is independant of work. I play wtih and conduct a brass band for instance and always struggled to fit that around marking and meetings.
    Incidentally, I have never socailised with work colleagues, my partner went to one staff bbq, spent the entire evening sat in a circle with all the teachers discussing work etc, we agreed to never go to each other's work dos from that day on! If your social life depends on a workplace, what happens when you move on?
  12. My experience was that certain teacher types (they are weak but seek strength in a pack and tend to watch 'Sex In The City') ignore supply teachers and compound the sense of loneliness.
  13. best post ever, have not stopped laughing, coz it is so true! lol
  14. Not lonely and enjoying not being drawn into the politics of a place. Still keep in touch with a few from my last school but feel much happier on Supply. Stick with it. Join an evening course. How about volunteering once a week/month at a local charity. I think far more rewarding and enjoyable.
  15. Yup, day2day can be lonely and quite soul destroying and you come home from a place to an empty house. I am single too.
    BUT, remember that most teachers have friends outa their schools and just socialise with colleagues at the usual events - end of term do, leaving party or whatever. It's hard to find someone onthe same wavelength and most folk have husbands and children.
    Having said that, two good friends of mine were folks I worked with in a long term position.
    Both men.
    I like my own company and have two great dogs. I have a few really good friends but we do not live in one another's pockets. Friendships take time and energy to build up. The danger is that you can end up talking shop with teacher friends.
    I have met some new people through church and have many doggy friends. I have also some friends through the TES forums with whom I correspond and one or two I have met socially for a curry!
  16. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    So glad I read this post. I am a lonely PGCE student. I don't fit either but it seems from reading this post it is not me, it is Them. I am not wanted in the staff room either, so I go for walks at lunch time. The staff are all so polite, but not friendly, they do not seem to want to engage. They politely let me know that I am under their feet, so I sit alone in the library. However, regarding the colleagues not friends theme- they dont even seem to talk to each other much, they are just exceedingly polite to each other.It's a bit like the Stepford wives.
    Love the Clint Eastwood clip. Would love to be like that BUT have to be so polite to students, even when they are being vile to me, refusing to work, taking the P, being apathetic and repeatedly using mobile phones in class even after they have been politely asked to put it away 3 times.
  17. svxenos

    svxenos New commenter

    I know what you mean, Dance49. I've just qualified and am finding supply quite isolating. For me, the learning curve has been very steep, and all alone.
    Also, my experience on supply has been so different from people who went straight from training into a post that there isn't really anyone to share (the many) horror stories with, or ask advice from, which was the best part of last year - that feeling that you weren't alone! There are no schools I've been into where I feel I could casually ask for advice or feedback in the staff room, and it would make all the difference. I'm sure in a couple of years, with more experience under my belt, lots of these issues will melt away, but it would be nice to have someone to ask.
    I've got a partner and a wide social network, but none of them knows anything about teaching, although they've had to put up with learning quite a bit!
    Bring a book, read it in the staffroom or in the classroom. That's what I do.
  18. When I was doing a few days CA work, I was touched when a couple of the younger teachers asked me for advice on how teach aspects of science, once it got round that I was a retired teacher. On reflection though, it does not say much for the atmospehere of the department, if less experienced teachers felt that they could not ask advice from their more experienced colleagues.

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