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Looking Forward to a Flexible and Assertive New Year

03/01/17

In Lyn's first entry of 2017, she discusses the need for flexibility and assertiveness within supply teaching.

Since I retired from full-time teaching I have calculated that I have worked in a supply capacity in about forty schools. Prior to retirement I worked in the same school for seventeen years. I never thought that I 'knew it all’. Any teacher, even if a member of the leadership team, who believes that is manifestly a fool. No two classes, no two young people are the same; we learn fresh approaches and refine tried and tested ones in our dealings with them every day. As casual cover teachers we really have to think on our feet. Despite my years of experience with every new assignment I have learned something about students, teachers, managers, the system or me. This is why I never get bored and this is why I get cross when people make sweeping generalisations about schools.

So as we start a new term I shall endeavour to be as flexible as possible and adapt to the needs of each different assignment. However what I shall not be doing is ever sounding needy. This was the best piece of advice I was given when I started supply teaching. In my previous existence I had been accustomed to telling children I needed them to do tasks. This doesn't work in the tough world of supply. Now I tell them 'You need to .....'. Get rid of the 'Please will you ...' and 'I want you to ....' and you straightaway sound more assertive. Thank them afterwards.

So my key words for 2017 are flexibility and assertiveness. Happy New Year!


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