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NQT finding it hard to cope with supply

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by hlteacher09, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. I am an NQT and have been registered with 2 supply agencies since September. I had no idea how difficult I would find supply teaching, and how much I would dread those early morning calls. After giving it a fair trial, I have realised that supply really isn't for me, and I am now (regretfully) starting to ignore the early calls from the agencies. Not only had supply given me anxiety and many sleepless nights, I also feel I have lost the 'spark' and the enthusiasm for teaching which has affected my confidence in such a way which I do not feel I am good at what I do anymore. My motivation to get a full-time teaching position has disappeared, and I feel confused and lost about what I am to do next. I have been thinking about doing some voluntary work in local schools in the hope that I will re-discover the reasons I wanted to teach in the first place, but I can't afford to not have a job where I am earning money.
    I would really appreciate any advice, as I really do not know what is best for me to do right now.
    Thank you.
  2. I am an NQT and have been registered with 2 supply agencies since September. I had no idea how difficult I would find supply teaching, and how much I would dread those early morning calls. After giving it a fair trial, I have realised that supply really isn't for me, and I am now (regretfully) starting to ignore the early calls from the agencies. Not only had supply given me anxiety and many sleepless nights, I also feel I have lost the 'spark' and the enthusiasm for teaching which has affected my confidence in such a way which I do not feel I am good at what I do anymore. My motivation to get a full-time teaching position has disappeared, and I feel confused and lost about what I am to do next. I have been thinking about doing some voluntary work in local schools in the hope that I will re-discover the reasons I wanted to teach in the first place, but I can't afford to not have a job where I am earning money.
    I would really appreciate any advice, as I really do not know what is best for me to do right now.
    Thank you.
  3. I have been teaching 4 years and found myself doing supply, it isn't easy as the kids deliberately play you up even the nice ones.

    I did supply work as an NQT and i know it can be disheartening and make you think that you are not cut out for teaching, this is not the case. Think about supply and how the kids behave as the worse it can get when you get a permanent job it get easier.

    Best thing to do is start looking for jobs, getting some interviews even if you don't get the job it is good practice. You will find once you get a full time job that you will do things wrong and it will take a while to find out your style of teaching but that is expected as an NQT. I have come a long way over the last 4 years and I am still learning.

    You will find when you have a permanent job you will be supported by staff in the department and across the whole school, don't be afraid to ask for help and support that's what it is there for. After a year of being in the school it gets so much easier you know the systems to the school, the kids know who you are, you know where to get help and you get to know the right people (usually the heads of year).

    Get looking for a job and just do supply part time maybe so you get to have a break but still get a bit of money.

    After 3 years of teaching I still had doubts about being a teacher, that was until I got 100% A*-C for all of my GCSE students including a group of year 10 who did their GCSE a year early. It was then i realised i must be doing something good.

    Whatever you do don't compare yourself to people who have been teaching years, of course they are good at it they have made mistakes and learn't how to crack it, give yourself a break and get back on the horse although i do know it is hard.

    Good luck looking for a permanent job
  4. brunetta

    brunetta New commenter

    No advice from me I'm afraid but I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone. I'm an NQT too and I could have written your post as that's exactly how I'm feeling.

  5. Hlteacher,
    You are not alone. I have been told by headteachers that doing supply when you are an NQT is really hard.
    Experienced teachers have a raft of behaviour management techniques and knowledge of the children and the curriculum to use.
    As an NQT doing supply you have to find your feet as you go along. I have had hellish days on supply, with horrendous behaviour and unwelcoming staff, but I've also been lucky enough to get regular work at a few nice schools, where the staff are helpful and friendly, and you get to know the children and the expectations and I've really enjoyed teaching.
    Teaching full time and teaching on supply are 2 completely different ballgames. I think that if supply is making you anxious and unwell, then it might be a good idea to step back from it. Maybe you could find a part time job, and still volunteer 1 or 2 days a week in a school to check whether you still love teaching?
    Good luck with it.
  6. Hlteacher
    I'm in the same boat as you - told the supply agency last week that I wasn't doing it any more. Not easy because it now leaves a 'what on earth do I do now?' feeling.
    Good luck whatever you decide to do.
  7. bego83

    bego83 New commenter

    Same here..
    I just worked for two days but I don't think I can do it anymore. When I got home I felt exhausted and frustrated..
    I am thinking about getting a job as a teaching assistant.
    Good luck
  8. Thanks for all the comments and advice. It's nice to know I'm not alone in feeling like this, but at the same time I do wish everyone luck in finding a permanent position. Many people have said I should just 'grin and bear it' as it's all experience at the end of the day, but it is so hard when you know you just cannot cope with it any longer. I think the right decision for me is to offer to do voluntary work in a school, so I am keeping my hand in but also feeling much less pressure. Hopefully then I will be able to get my confidence back, and along with it the motivation to kickstart my teaching career. Fingers crossed!!
    If not, then careers advice here I come!
  9. I'm an NQT and i've been doing supply since nov 2009 I know its hard but i really enjoy it. behaviour can be dreadful but it is all experience and if the school and class were that bad you can always request not to go back. my agency always give me the heads up if its gonna be a tough school.
    I think that its really important to make sure u find out the schools behaviour policies and sanctions as this can help and sometimes when the children know that you know the policy and your going to follow through they sort themselves out. Otherwise you can send disruptive children to other classes because at the end of the day your their to teach. in schools i hav been to they are fully aware of what the children are like with supply teachers and they offer their help.
    I have walked/ran out of schools at 3:30 thinking thank god they're not my class but on the positive side at least i survived. lol.
    The thing I dont like about supply is the last minute ness of it all, not knowing where your going or what faces you when you get there or if you'll get a call at all.
    if you have lost your enthusiasm for teaching perhaps you could volunteer in a school for 1 day a week then do supply the rest of week so that you still have the pennies rolling in. It does get easier the more you go to a school and get to know their routines and the children.
    Above all supply is great for getting your face around lots of different schools and can lead to job offers. I hope I helped.
  10. Hi, I am pleased i have found someone in the same position as me- i have made myself ill over doing supply work and have made myself think that im not cut out for teaching even though i passed my degree with flying colours. I too began to ignore calls from agencies and have suffered from anxiety and sleepless nights. I have totally lost the entusiasm for teaching and have thought about quitting all together. This has been going on for months now for me and i have got myself doubting my ability. I was going into schools thinking i should know everything about the curriculum and thought i was stupid to ask. Has anyone else felt that way? im now at a point where im thinking about taking time out and just do teaching assistant work until i get my confidence back but then i feel like im taking 5 steps back..
    I am finding this really hard as this is all ive ever wanted to do..do you think volunteering in a school would be a good idea and also working as teaching assistant?
    Feeling the same as you
  11. I have also felt like i couldn't do lesson plans anymore but maybe this was because i hadn't been in as school for over a year and with doing supply you don't have time to plan lessons in advance as you never know what year/subject/topic you will be teaching.
  12. Pennyforyourthoughts

    Pennyforyourthoughts Occasional commenter

    First of all, I would suggest that you ask when you are in schools if you can do some lesson observation of good practice to enhance your teaching and classroom management skills. This might mean that you have to go into schools voluntarily but usually schools are open to suggestion, after all they are in the business of educating whether that is pupils or staff.
    Often the problem with supply, especialy if you had placements that were relataively straightforward without too much challange, you will find supply a shock to the system. Stripped of that temporary 'permanent teacher' feeling and respect from pupils.... only to be subjected to 'Ground Hog Day' day after day (well it seems like that sometimes) with pupils that are often.....just as out of water as you regards the lesson.
    My advice............
    Develop a workable system for yourself.... mine goes something like this....
    Start with assertiveness outside the classroom. Get them lined up, quiet and listening to your instructions before you enter as to what to do when they get into the classroom eg, coats off, pencil cases/books out, bags under the table etc etc. (this is a great guide to how the class will respond to you) and I always set a quick activity (before they enter the room) eg, find a 9,8,7 and 6 letter word to do with the subject they are going to be taught and point out that there will be a reward for the first 1 or pair to hand it to me and give them a count down to be settled say from 15. This gives to read the cover work, quickly assess the class, find the trouble makers and separate them if necessary and to formulate a forward plan for the lesson. Quickly check the answers to the task.
    Hand out reward from my Goodie bag (usually novelty items never sweets) put their name in the Bright Sparks bubble on the board and let the class clearly see that I am in control. Point out that I know the schools sanctions and reward system and that they should all have their planners out so I can enter rewards as I see fit during the lesson. (positive action) Always ask for helpers and reward them with their names in the Helpers bubble on the board and a school reward at the end of the lesson.
    Equally I chunk the class into sections for behaviour management at the start of the lesson. For example if they are sat in groups then give the group a number or in rows give the row a number. Inform them that they are in charge of their behaviour for that group or row. I then put these numbers on the board and should their be a behaviour problem I indicate it on the board. Working with the schools system for behaviour I indicate the warnings on the board beside their number. This may seem like a fiddle.....BUT it gives each pupil a VISUAL indication, a memory aid of what is happening not only to them but others in the lesson and the consequences. Try for more in the reward boxes than other.
    If none of this works and pupils persist with poor behaviour then call for help, the help can see immediately from the evidence on the board that you have tried various ways to bring the pupil and class together to be able to teach them. It is after all their actions that deserve the consequences handed out to them by resident staff and not your problem anymore.
    If you keep to a routine you will find workable system for the start of the lesson, from outside to inside the classroom, you will become more confident with every new class. Yes it may be easier with some and you might not think you need it with others BUT keep to it......... it becomes your personal teaching style and recognisable when pupils encounter you again on supply.... you will hear mutters like
    Oh she give out rewards, Oh she is firm, Oh she sticks to her guns, Oh we have fun in her class, Oh I like her, Oh are we doing that thingy again, are we having table numbers again miss. (positive mutters)
    Yes it takes time to establish a teaching style BUT it is worth it. Pupils know how you operate, what you expect and how far they can push you. Beyond that ................. it is another teachers problem no yours.
    Have faith in what you have already mastered, be prepared to learn more from good or bad experiences and good practice observations and you will eventually be a stronger and better teacher.
    Pupils like consistency, order and boundaries...... they don't know it ........but they do and along with it comes that all illusive .......... respect...... something that is well earned.
    Good luck......
  13. lillipad

    lillipad New commenter

    Have you thought about only taking pre-booked work if the morning calls fill you with dread?

    I can sympathise, I used to wake up at 6:30 every day worrying about it and on my first day back on supply today, I did the same again. My way around it last time was by making a really good connection with a particular school and doing ALL my supply there, accepting whatever they offered me, and then in time, the early morning calls weren't so scary as I knew where I was going and who the kids were.... Just a thought...
  14. lillipad and Jessica20,
    I know exactly how you both feel/have felt. I only take pre-booked work after being on call for over a year (NQT qualified in 09 and haven't begun induction) and from one agency I've had no work for this acdemic yr. I do TA work now on supply as there's just no work out there.(Yes I know many teachers frown upon it, but what else can i do??)
    I wake up between 5.30-6am on weekdays, anxious still, even for pre-booked work!! I feel like I've lost the ability to plan or to be a proper teacher cos I've not taught for so long. I also have tried to come up with back up plans/alternative career ideas but am at a loss!
    Perhaps if we had full time jobs we'd regain our enthusiasm and get in to the swing of it again....??
  15. I'm not sure if you mentioned your age range / subject, but for me my best supply days were when I was able to teach my own subject (PE). I absolutely hated doing General Cover and often felt way out of my comfort zone.
    I remember my worst ever cover lesson - I had bottom set Year 10 Maths, the cover work was hidden under a pile of books on the desk and even then the worksheets hadn't been photocopied. Luckily a TA happened to walk past so I managed to convince her to photocopy the sheets for me (she was extremely unhelpful!) so I was left to come up with a starter to keep the group occupied in the mean time. Just in those first 5 minutes I felt like I wanted to walk out, the group weren't behaving as I wished and the work was not organised.
    After that day I told my agency I would only do PE supply - whilst this meant the likelihood of getting work was less, I felt much more comfortable and happy in the work I did get. Occasionally I still had to do the odd general cover lesson but on the whole my experiences were a lot better.
    Just hang on in there, it WILL get better (as bad as it seems now!) so just try and keep your head up and think to the days when you won't have to dread those phonecalls again! :)
  16. I am a Maths teacher and I have had many many of those days. I suppose I am now trained to weather just about anything the kids can do to me to disrupt the lesson further. I have several behaviour management techniques and I know how and when to deploy them because unfortunately 95% of schools I have done Maths cover is like what you mention above. After each episode believe me you feel like you have earned your supply money.
  17. Don't worry, as you can see, you are not alone!

    I qualified in July and had a term contract in a school with my own class. I did not get the job which I interviewed for in December so from January I started supply.

    I was only using the one until recently where I have joined two more, but only the original agency is giving me work.

    Some days, you have fab days where it motivates you to get a full time job, and some days you have bad days, I have had a few where I feel like crying as soon as I leave the school!

    Keep your chin up, you will get your mojo back! x[​IMG]
  18. Hello!
    First of all, I would like to say that I really feel for you. From personal experience I know how difficult it is to have sleepless nights, dread going into work and being disillusioned from the hard knocks you get dealt doing supply.
    I qualified and worked as a supply teacher for two years before securing my first permanent post at a special school. Various things happened which led to me handing in my notice three years later and going back on supply.
    I think I was slightly cocky going back to supply after three years experience, thinking that I had so many behaviour management techniques up my sleeve. After all, I had worked in a special school and seem some extreme behaviour and considreed myself an experienced teacher, what could supply throw at me.
    Well yesterday, I ended up in tears (in front of the pupils, natch!) after a class I was teaching lost control, started throwing things around the room and hit me on the head with a dictionary. The kids didn't care I had all that experience, I was a cover teacher and for them an opportunity to mess around. It was nothing personal, in fact most of them were upset at the thought I was hurt and apologised afterwards, they were being kids at the end of the day. Absolutely no excuse. I am very lucky that this is a school where staff suppoprt each other, even supply staff, senior management were amazing and today it has been followed up and pupils have been appropriately punished. This is very rare unfortunately and in 90 per cent of schools, this won't happen, leaving you, whether you are an NQT or not feeling completely disillusioned and that because you are a supply teacher it is acceptable that this is part of the job. It is not and senior management yesterday were mortified and emphatically stated that this was unacceptasble!
    I think you definitely need to take some time out from supply if it is draining oyur enthusiasm for teaching. Could you afford to work as a teaching assistant for a while when you are applying for jobs? I have currently got a job working with young people with special needs on a summer holiday playscheme. If needs be can you do some temping while you offer to volunteer in your local school. Spending time with pupils without having to crowd control when on supply will hopefully remind you of why you wanted to be a teacher in the first place and when you get that permanent post, you can start with enthusiasm and in the knowledge that you can establish things the way you want them to be.
    Believe it or not, even though you have felt you have lost your confidence, you will remember doing supply and if you can do even a few days, you can do anything. However I spent two years unhappy in a job and feeling the way you do and for your sanity it is so not worth it. I would rather have the financial uncertainty I have now than endure what I did over the past two years.
    Really hope things work out for you! Teaching is the best job in the world when you have the right job and you will find it. Let me know how you get on


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