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My Horrible Day

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by pepper5, Nov 24, 2015.

  1. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Today was a horrible day for me in connection with supply.

    It started out o.k. with the first lesson, but lessons following were bad.

    Period 2 I has 31 year 11s revising for an exam. They had not had a regular teacher for some time, but were the top set. It took me some time to get them settled and working but I managed to get all on task except for about 5. Some decided to throw glue around the room and just generally be annoying, but I suppose bearing in mind there were 31 of them and one of me, I didn't do too badly.

    Period 3 got worse. I can't go into detail since I don't want to be identified, but it was one of the worst classes I have had for some time. I only managed since the group was small.

    The last lesson of the day...well...it was also terrible. The work was not suitable and for various reasons this class hadn't had a regular teacher either, and they were all over the place.

    Some bright spots were that I did teach some great students who did behave and worked hard and I gave out a !of of praise and rewards.

    I feel so down....can someone give me a word of encouragement?
    thekillers likes this.
  2. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    Hi, Pepper. Sorry to hear about your horrible day.

    Just think, you never, ever have to go back there.
  3. Cantandmorecant

    Cantandmorecant Lead commenter

    If you're not there again tomorrow the next school will probably be better.
    towncryer, pepper5 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  4. emmalcm1

    emmalcm1 Established commenter

    I hope tomorrow is better for you! I've had a bad couple of days myself..without going into detail I was put in a situation where I could easily have been injured yesterday (but fortunately wasn't). The only good thing is that you can choose whether you go back (although obviously influenced by money sometimes).

    I woke up full of cold today as well after not feeling very well for a couple of days. I worked but have felt pretty terrible all day. I sometimes wonder if supply staff are actually more ill than those who've taken the day off sick! haha. Added to that the work was not great/ non existent/ I had to chase staff to set some.

    But on a more positive note, just remember that your next school could be a lovely one!
    dljames2013 likes this.
  5. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    Thank you both for your kind responses.

    I am going back tomorrow and it is a school that I consider to be one of the best in the area. I have been to this school many times. I did tell the head of one of the departments what happened, so maybe they will take action.

    Without my wages, my husband and I would not manage.

    Yesterday, I had an OK day there. The classes worked well and it was just an ordinary day. It appears there are trouble spots and I just happened to get some difficult classes.

    I have worked as a supply teacher for six years now and I can definitely see the behaviour is getting more difficult to control. I generally manage very well, but with large classes, extreme behaviour and lack of TAs, it is becoming more difficult to cope. Somehow I have to find a way to manage since we need the money to pay our bills.

    A lot of what I am battling against is out of my control: angry students who haven't had a regular teacher for weeks. They take out their anger on me and I don't know what to say. The last class of the day almost rioted when they saw the work left for them. For various reasons too complicated to go into here I wasn't able to change the work on short notice.

    I feel it shouldn't really be this constant batt!e: what students are asked to do isn't unreasonable and most of the time the lessons are good quality and the students are learning despite their teacher not being there.

    In the new year, I am going to start looking for something else since I have had enough. I don't care anymore... I will stack shelves in Poundland. Im tired of the rudeness, the mocking sneers, the total disregard for anyone other than themselves.
  6. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Thanks for all who have taken the time to reply.
  7. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Oh pepper it must be bad for you to post and consider quitting supply. We all deal with such problems on supply and it's so often 'par for the course', and usually, as you know, you do well and students learn. Take heart from that.

    I'm no longer on supply but have had a bad day, as have 2 colleagues today. Remember this term is often the problem one, particularly when they have wet breaks and lunchtimes and if classes haven't had regular teachers it does de-stabilize them. Not our fault but we have to cope with the fall-out.
    pepper5 likes this.
  8. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    Thanks for your post. I am sorry you have also had a bad day, but thanks for letting me know I am not alone.

    I am really going to have to think about whether I can carry on in view of the behaviour: the students are becoming more defiant and when the classes are very difficult, it is becoming harder for me to manage and I have a good reputation generally. I don't want to be a police officer telling kids off for throwing glue around the room. The worst bit is seeing broken pens, rulers, and other equipment strown across the room. I covered a class yesterday where there were several on report. One or two decided to break 4 rulers.

    I am tired of the mocking of my accent and the blatant rudeness when I might mispronounce a name. I am also tired of the students' entitlement attitude.

    If it was just once in a while I could manage, but it seems like it is extreme behaviour every lesson and there is no let up. It is the state of schools in England and I don't see it changing only getting worse.

    I am at the point where sweeping the street looks attractive.
  9. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    Pepper, so sorry about your day - you are one of the inspiring people on these threads, so please take heart that we love you!
    It does illustrate that however experienced you are with all the strategies you have, sometimes things conspire to floor you. I lost my voice at the end of the day today for the first time since I started supply last Oct. I was in a school today where there were powercuts and so lots of room changes, so the kids were hyper, no textbooks in the right place, and the teacher I was covering used that sneaky old chestnut of getting the kids to write on paper instead of in their books - and not actually leaving any paper in the room - (so she can just shred their work as will obviously be rubbish as done with 'supply'.Which is so sad, because many of the kids worked really hard.)
    What is significant is your classes had a stream of supply teachers and were really angry. I was talking to a boy today who told me their class (in science) had lot of supply teachers, then a teacher who said he was there for a long time and left after two weeks, and now this teacher who joined in September and is starting to go sick a lot.. Several pupils have asked me, since I have been there for quite a few days now, if I will be staying. I think they yearn for stability, and do feel betrayed when teachers 'abandon' them.
    Keep the faith - you are a good influence on them, and the kids who want to work deserve to have you.
  10. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    That's a very good thought to hang on to PizzoCalabro and one of the reasons why schools need good supply teachers.
  11. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi Pizzo

    Thank you for your kind words.

    That is another thing that grinds me down: no paper in the rooms, so I have a big bag I have to carry around with supplies in it like lined and plain paper. Another thing is the maths lessons where the answers have not been left; it is extremely hard to work out answers quickly when you are supposed to monitoring the room and when you haven't had a chance to look over the material. Please someone tell me why is it difficult to leave the answers????

    Of course they yearn for stability, but why are the teachers not staying? It isn't because they are all rubbish teachers. It is partly because of the appalling behaviour. I was at a school on Friday where they called a class " interesting". The class were not interesting - some were foul. Not all, but a large majority and had to have two adults in the room.

    I am pretty sure I have had enough.
    ellenlilymay likes this.
  12. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    It's so unfair that decent classes are left without regular teachers for periods of time. It's a scandal and should not happen.

    It mirrors a situation I had on supply two years ago when I was at the same school day-to-day for ages. Their regular teacher was never there and since I was covering their classes I got to know one particular class very well. After a few days I ditched the cover work and started teaching them the syllabus (I don't think I have ever had a more grateful class before or since). Eventually someone noticed and I was approached and asked if I wanted a full term's work. Unfortunately the following day I got a similar offer from a school much closer to home and I agonised over it for ages. In the intervening couple of days the other teacher returned so I accepted the second offer instead.

    It still happens of course - it's left to supply teachers to pick up the pieces.

    Incidentally I still vividly remember my worst ever supply lesson - period 5 Drama with a totally horrible group in an old barn of a drama studio with no work - I've just recovered from that one.

    How about a new thread - Worst lesson ever on supply...period.
    pepper5 likes this.
  13. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    The boy in the science class said it was because they are 'the bottom set, so no-one is bothered' Heartbreaking he has that perception.
    I do quite a lot of drama, often with no work set ( have drama tomorrow in fact, and that may well be the case) but at least they can run about and screech with no danger, unlike a classroom with hazards in...
  14. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    We did most of our GCSE maths course with no teacher when I was a pupil - we were also a low set and nobody cared. We didn't even get supply, we were just left to our own devices once our teacher went off sick.

    We taught ourselves and most of us managed to scrape through - I hated my secondary school, it was rubbish then and it's now even worse now apparently (in special measures I believe).
    pepper5 likes this.
  15. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I don't mind the bottom sets - I don't mind who it is. What I do mind is the vandalism, the rudeness, the entitlement attitude.

    The bottom sets get the same treatment from me as do the top sets. Today one of the classes I taught was probably the very bottom set of the entire school. They were not deprived: the school has gone out of their way to help them in every way and their regular teacher a dedicated person. There was absolutely no reason that they act like maniacs when they see a supply teacher. What are they going to do when they have to roll up for work somewhere? In that class, there were a few who might get jobs, but the rest because of their attitude will not go very far and it won't be because of their academic ability but rather their appalling lack of manners or social skills. The only saving grace is that I am not their parents.
  16. PizzoCalabro

    PizzoCalabro Established commenter

    Like Peakster, my school was pretty terrible and for A level maths we wee left to our own devices. My dad hit the roof with me when he heard I GOT 26% in my mock A level, till I pointed out that I had actually come top of the year :-(
    I hate the way we are expected to be entertainers, and any disruption is due to the lesson not being engaging enough.
    I have another direct school which is an independent school, and in that one I only teach my own subject, and there are no behaviour issues, so it like a little haven, although they don't need supply teachers except for sudden illness, as they don't have endless meetings during the school day, and staff have reduced timetables to cover most absences.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  17. indusant

    indusant Senior commenter

    Hi @pepper5 I don't have much to add other I can empathise with your experiences. I encountered exactly the same sort of behaviour on supply and it made me feel the same way. The constant rudeness and disrespect can be very disheartening. It can be plain horrific at times. I did it for a few years but decided to look for other means as I could not put myself through it all again. Some don't see that supply teachers are human beings to be shown respect. I think that the disruptive kids are really just ignorant and fail to see the full extent of their actions. They go home and have forgotten all about it, but one day that might look back and realise. Life has a way of teaching lessons sooner or later. Do take heart from the kids who are pleasant and hard working.

    I found strength in such quotes as this:

    'There is the mud, and there is the lotus that grows out of the mud. We need the mud in order to make the lotus' - Thich Nhat Hanh

    It may mean leaving teaching, but things can and will get better.

    Best wishes
    Jane Austen, pepper5 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  18. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    If it's any consolation guys I still have a class like that now. Even though I've been a "regular" teacher for over a year at my school. It's only a small class (low ability) and half of them are lovely but the others are really not very nice and utterly, utterly disinterested in my subject. I would imagine they would be awful for a supply teacher.

    Thankfully I have lots of other lovely classes. In my first full year of teaching a long time ago EVERY class was like that in the appalling school I was in.

    A story about that place I still dine out on - 14 NQTs (including my little self) started the year - only one (and she left shortly afterwards) stayed on for the following year. Over 20 staff left at the end of the year and the leaving "do" ran for almost two hours - it was very entertaining.
    pepper5 likes this.
  19. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi indusant

    Thank you for taking time to reply. I have worked six years as a supply teacher and have taught hundreds of lessons, so if I do decide to leave I will try and remember the happy times and happy classes I have had- it hasnt all been bad. I have had some exciting classes and great kids and I know some of them appreciated my input and encouragement. That is what is hurtful...that I when I go I always have a kind word for all the students. It is very horrific as you say when they can be very rude and mean. Six years is a long time to put up with what I had to endure at times. On the other hand, there are students who come up and say thank you at the end of the lesson.

    I think what I will do is to keep on with supply while I look for something else in the new year. Maybe something in the field of education or training but not as a supply teacher.

    I am somewhat worried about looking for work at my age.

    Thanks again for your kind words...it makes me feel like I am not alone. I have read so many posts just like mine over the years...people so upset and distraught about working in schools and the extreme behaviours they face. The feeling like is it justme or what?

    I am booked tomorrow at the same school, but hope I have some better classes.

    I can't wait to find another job.
    indusant likes this.
  20. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    Sorry to hear about your bad day pepper and I can recognise everything you say.

    I am always annoyed when I hear poorly behaved students moan about a constant change of teachers and how it is damaging their education. They will not except its largely their fault and that teachers will not stay if they are not treated with respect.

    I also get annoyed when poor students claim that they have rubbish teachers who don't teach them anything. Er NO its them who are rubbish students who don't try to learn anything. I had one student last week who argued with me and insisted that copper was a compound, of course I was wrong despite having a science degree and twice as many years in science teaching/the chemical industry then she hasd been alive, she also had trouble remembering not to have her phone out in the lesson. In the end I gave up and told her to write what she liked in her GSCE since the World will go on without her contribution to it anyway.

    Some students seem to think its all someone elses fault and that they have been hard done by. Wait until they start work they will have a wake up call then.

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