Each supply teacher will have arrived at supply in a slightly different way, but there are certainly similarities in many people’s journeys. It can be helpful to read these comparisons, since supply can be somewhat lonely at times - compared to being a permanent member of staff, at least, where you have the chance to build deeper working relationships. So for the sake of solidarity and guidance, here is a little insight into my own journey into supply – I hope it's helpful in your next role!
I had been a teacher for 2 years in Brighton. My job there was difficult, the behaviour was challenging and I felt like I hadn’t received much support. I had completed my NQT year and my first two years of teaching at the school, and so I did not know much about other schools or whether the stress and lack of support was just normal. I moved back to my family home in London, since my friends from Brighton had moved away and I was planning on moving to Australia in a few months.
I had my heart set on travelling to Australia for a long time but I didn’t quite know when, as I hadn't saved up as much money as I wanted at the time. I was 100% sure that I didn’t want to work in a full-time teaching position any more, but I knew that I still wanted to work with children. I also wasn't really sure what else I was passionate about or could even do, as teaching had been my job ever since I had finished university.
One day a friend of mine suggested that I try supply work. I soon realised that it was a perfect fit for me at this time in my life. It was perfect. The workload of a regular full-time teacher was completely nullified, and I was able to work with children as well as earn a decent wage. Furthermore, supply teaching would enable me to become much more flexible with my time, allowing me more free time to realise my ambitions. I could think and plan my trip to Australia and also really think about my future career as a teacher.
Before I started supply teaching I felt anxious, as I had only been a teacher for two years, in one school. Now all of a sudden I would be covering all different types of lessons in all different types of schools across London. I had also heard many stories about the complexities of timesheets, which sounded quite stressful. But I remained sure that I didn’t want a full-time job for September and the positives definitely outweighed the negatives. So I took the chance and applied to do supply teaching!
I googled supply teaching in London, and Zen was one of the top results. I thought the idea of the app was really easy and stress-free, and the registration process wasn’t much hassle at all! Everyone was really friendly and the schools that I was placed in were fairly local to me and delightful to work in. On the odd occasion where I would be working in a school that was challenging, Zen would be incredibly supportive. This made working at Zen very pleasant.
I have been supply teaching for nearly a year now and I have recommended it to all of my teacher friends, who talk about how stressful teacher life is. Supply allows you to teach and work with children (the main reason we go into teaching) without all of the extra work. The hours allow you to have a lot more freedom after school, and it is great to see and experience many different schools. Each day I looked forward to going in and meeting new children and learning new things about myself as a teacher.
Being a supply teacher has allowed me to develop my knowledge and understanding of teaching, as I have seen many different teaching styles and learned different behavioural techniques. Looking towards the future, I intend to do supply work in Australia as I have thoroughly enjoyed the benefits of working as a teacher without all of the hassle!