Finding a school that suits your needs can be difficult. Everyone has their own experiences, either positive or negative, that can sway our perspective. But, ultimately, it comes down to our own personal requirements.
As a teacher who has had experience teaching my own class, as well as working in a supply role, recognising the strengths and fallbacks of a school has proved vital in the longevity of my career.
From engaged administrators, to healthy, comfortable learning environments, getting a feel of what is right for you as a professional is vital. After all, as a teacher, your permanent choice for a school will dictate how well you can provide for your students. So, it had better be the right choice!
Let’s explore the signs that could determine - or deter - your long-term role as a teacher.
Keep an eye out for the small things
When immersed within a school environment, try to pick up on the small tells that indicate a healthy working environment.
If administrators and fellow teachers are open to communicating with you, answering any queries you may have or, better yet, preempting possible concerns that may arise with a certain class, this is a good sign.
Outside of class-time, if you find yourself lost and without guidance within an alien environment, then it may not be the best permanent placement for you.
Keeping an eye out for small things, such as a teacher stopping by to make sure you’re prepared, or if the head takes their time to welcome you, is a very good indication.
Also, observe the general culture between other teachers and administration in the school. From my own personal experience, it can be easier than expected to pick up on a healthy work-environment through the small interactions that occur between colleagues, and the general attitude towards how they are being managed.
Is the senior management’s office door open?
Of course, it is reasonable to expect a level of privacy between senior management and teaching staff, but there is also an expectation of open discourse to facilitate a collaborative environment. If senior management are mostly available throughout the school day, with their office door open, then this is another green flag.
This sense of collaboration does not end in the office, however. If you can, observe how teachers respond to senior management entering their classroom. If the teacher is surprised, this is a giveaway that management is not in the habit of walking around the school.
When supplying at a well-esteemed school, I found the headteacher to be open and available, with teachers reacting to his arrival into their classroom without surprise. This gave a feeling of healthy collaboration, not judgment, between teachers and administration, which can make a world of difference when choosing a permanent school.
How are the students?
Students are the most integral component of any school. Casting an eye over their behavior, how they respond to the systems put in place, and their manners towards adults, can be a telling factor.
Look out for the little things; do they hold the door open for you? Do they address you appropriately? Do they say please and thank you? While such things may seem insignificant in the grand scheme, these signs will let you know how deeply-embedded the school’s culture and vision truly is.
While moving between rooms, if there are students lurking in corridors because they have been removed from the class, or if they are wandering around without purpose, you have to begin asking questions.
A tightly-run school with high expectations towards student behavior will make your life as a teacher that much simpler. When deciding on a long-term role at a school, this should be a pivotal factor that you take on board.
The importance of a holistic curriculum and value alignment
Before settling on a long-term role, make sure you are familiar with the curriculum.
If it is holistic, with a focus on such things as contemporary skills, creativity, communication, problem-solving and critical thinking, then this is a school which is heading into the future, not stuck in the past.
Similarly, if their ethos involves core values such as resilience, persistence and self-confidence, this should peak your interest.
Ultimately, it comes down to your own personal values, and whether they align with the school’s.
If you feel a connection with their vision and curriculum, then take this as a sign.
Is there a sense of community?
Each school possesses its own distinct identity. Some schools may have a heavier focus on the arts, others may lean towards sports, while others invest in technology, and so on.
This identity can cultivate a specific community which you may feel more of a pull towards. For example, if you have experience with sports, then a school which has a prominent community around physical education could be for you.
If there is a healthy sense of belonging for both teachers and students, where collaboration can occur and ample opportunities are offered, then keep this in mind when making your choice for a long-term role.
It all comes down to personal choice
Schools will vary, and deciding on a long-term teaching role will ultimately boil down to your personal preferences as an educator.
Teaching is a very personal profession, so working in an environment that aligns with your own values is vital. From the availability of senior management, to the behavior systems in place, it is imperative to trust your instincts.
Going with your gut can be the factor that ensures longevity in a long-term role. Your wellbeing and potential to flourish professionally will come down to this decision.
So, take these points into consideration when choosing the ideal school that suits your needs. Whether you are a supply teacher, or a teacher testing new, uncharted waters, simply gathering a feel of your new environment will have lasting effects. Not only on yourself as an educator, but on your prospective students as well.
We can help you find a role you'll love
If you're on the hunt for a long-term supply teaching role, you've come to the right place. As one of the UK's leading educational recruitment agencies, we place thousands of teachers in rewarding positions ever year.
To find a role near you that you'll thrive in, all you have to do is get in touch with your local branch.