You may remember that not so long ago, I was working as a part-time class teacher in a local primary school. I wrote a post previously all about the reasons why I left that job after just six months (read it here if you fancy). For the last few months I’ve been desperately trying to decide what to do workwise once the twiglets start school in September. I’ve finally decided to have a go at supply teaching rather than another class teacher role, so I just thought I’d share my reasons for this decision 😊 Just in case anyone’s interested 😜
Improved Work-Life Balance
One of the main reasons I found it really difficult to cope with even a part-time class teacher role was the complete lack of a work-life balance. Quite honestly, I’m not sure how any teachers manage to have one. Before I had children, I accepted that it was just the nature of the job to have hours of work to do outside of school time. However, at my last school, (obvs post-children) I absolutely resented having to spend my Sundays stuck inside working while the hubby took the twigs out on his own. I do know a few people who manage it pretty well. So I think it must be heavily dependent on the individual school. However, I feel that they are probably the exception as I’ve spoken to sooo many mums who have left the teaching profession since having children. I’m really hoping that supply teaching will allow me to achieve more of a balance.
One thing that is really important to me since having a family is flexibility. Yes the holidays are undeniably amazing as a teacher. But there is zero flexibility at any other times of the year. With the twiglets starting school, I want to be able to go in and watch their class assemblies, or help on school trips, or maybe even be a volunteer reader. Or at least have the option to do those things. As a teacher, you can’t just head in late one day because someone has to cover your class. It’s a huge inconvenience for the school and wouldn’t usually be allowed.
Recommended by Others
I have met a lovely mum whose child attends the same nursery as H and C, who has also made the move into supply teaching since starting a family. She was one of the driving forces behind my decision to be honest, as she says she is so much happier now. She also had found a class teacher role just too much since having children. There are a few other mums I know of too, some through Instagram, who have made the move and are finding it works much better.
Teaching can be really stressful. There’s SO MUCH to do all the time. Even when I first started, it didn’t take me long to realise that I was never going to complete every item on my to-do list. There is always something more you could be doing. And don’t get me started on the pressure for teachers to ensure every child makes exactly the right amount of ‘progress’ (in the way that progress is measured by the government). Never mind if a shy child has finally begun to make friends. Or if a child with autism is coping better in the classroom environment. Or if a child with a troubled home life has stopped lashing out. Those things don’t count as progress apparently. I’ll stop there as I could write a whole other post on that (it would be VERY ranty!) And not to mention all the tasks expected of teachers that are purely box-ticking, bureaucratic exercises of no real value to the pupils. This article from the Guardian explains it pretty well.
The Right Time
I did try my hand at supply teaching many moons ago but I was in a different place in my life then. Basically, I had just done my NQT year in Year 6 in a school in Hackney (which was a bit of a baptism of fire to say the least!) Unfortunately, throughout that year, my dad was terminally ill and he died in the July a few weeks before we broke up. I missed the last few weeks of term but thankfully my school were very understanding and I was able to pass my NQT year. I needed some time out though so I left that job. It had been very tough so I’m not sure how long I would have stayed anyway. I moved back home to be there for my mum and sister, had half a term or so off then signed up for supply.
I really enjoyed elements of supply teaching but I desperately missed having my own class. Therefore the following year, I moved on to a permanent teaching position as a full-time class teacher again, where I ended up staying for six years.
My priorities are so different now though. Back then I was at the very start of my career and was keen to work super hard and progress. Now I want a job that I can fit around my family and that isn’t going to consume my whole life. Maybe I will still miss having my own class – I don’t know. But for now I feel that the benefits would far outweigh this.
As with anything though, there are of course downsides to supply teaching. Namely, no pay during the holidays. No sick pay. There’s no guarantee I will get work every day that I want it. It won’t really further my career. I won’t be continuing up the teachers’ payscale. I’ll have to travel to different places every day. And I’ll have to learn new routines, behaviour policies and squillions of new kids’ names every day. I’ll probably have to deal with challenging behaviour (we all know kids love to play up for a supply 🙄)
But for me and where I am in my life right now, I hope that it will be the right decision. I’ll be able to take a day off easily if my children are poorly. Or to attend their assemblies and trips. I’ll be able to enjoy precious family time at the weekends without busting my butt marking or worrying about all the school work I need to do. I can skip out of the door at 4pm instead of 6pm and not take work home with me. And I’ll still be keeping my hand in so that in the future I can return to full teaching if and when I’m ready to. It definitely feels like the best decision for me and my family right now – I really hope I’m right 🤞🏻
Thanks for reading!