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Choosing Between Supply Teaching and a Long Term

04/03/15

Amy has moved from one London to another! In her debut blog she shares her experiences and offers advice to those considering the move. 

When I first decided to move to London, UK (which needs to be differentiated from my hometown of London, On) for the fall of 2014, I didn’t know whether I wanted to do daily supply or to interview and get a job before I arrived.  There was a lot of pressure to find a position before I got there, but I decided to interview and let the fates decide.  If I was offered a good position then I’d definitely accept.  If not, I’d be ok doing daily supply. I actually had a skype interview in May and received a job offer for the 2014-2015 school year.

However, the more I researched the area - Luton - watched the promotional video from the school and talked to my friends and family who had taught in London in previous years, it became clearer and clearer that I needed to do daily supply instead of accepting this position.  I simply couldn’t make an informed decision about what my life would be like until I got to London.  What is the school administration/management like?  What extra duties are there to perform?  Will I get along with my colleagues?  Also, I didn’t know how big the range was for answers.  Some schools in London have you teach five classes a week while others require you to teach 11. 

Some schools in London have such discipline issues that they need two adults in a classroom just to control the noise level, and others don’t let kids talk in the hallway! This was just the tip of the iceberg and there were too many unknowns. I couldn’t make a choice that was best for me.  Daily supply allows you to audition at schools. You can work in one school daily for a few weeks or months and see what the day-to-day operations are like, how the teachers interact and are treated by administration and if you’re a good fit.   If all goes well then the school can offer you a long term position and then you can decide if you want to stay or go.

I say all of this knowing a couple of things.  First, I have three years of full-time teaching experience.  In my first year of teaching, I was nervous when I didn’t know exactly what I was going to teach and didn’t know how to handle behaviour issues.  Now, I have more experience and while my methods aren’t always perfect, I feel comfortable walking into a class and teaching a lesson that I’ve never seen before and implementing a disciplinary policy with kids that I don’t know. Second, I have some savings tucked away in case of an emergency.  This turned out to be unnecessary because Protocol Education is a large company and has always provided me with a full schedule every day.  I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get enough supply work to make a living in an expensive city but I’ve never wanted for work.

I recommend daily supply if workplace relationships and atmosphere have a big impact your happiness and if you don’t get lost often (sometimes finding a new school can be tricky!) Also, you need to be comfortable asking for help from teachers you don’t know because many teachers ignore supply teachers since they think you won’t be around long enough for their investment to pay off.

Most importantly, try and deal with drama without letting it be personal.  Kids will act out with supply teachers in ways they never would with their other teachers.  Everyone knows this, but the way students act out in Canada is quite different from how they act out in England.  Be prepared for chaos and be flexible and everything will work out.

Are you thinking about moving to the UK to teach? Contact our Canadian team to find out everything you need to know!

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