I often have a "Morning Starter" to keep my class purposefully engaged while the register is being taken. Today I asked them to think of as many things beginning with the letter 'a' that were.....
Football teams: Answers included Arsenal, Aston Villa, Albion Rovers etc.
Countries, Cities or towns: I got Australia, Aberdeen
Something you can eat? Class were initially stumped until one little boy put up his hand and in all seriousness
said "a sandwich?"
My helper had to leave the room before his drink of water came back out out his nose.
I could only respond with "can't argue with that."
Loads! Eight weeks to go and I'm worked off my bloody feet.
I still do not have a permanent job but after over 40 applications and 6 failed interviews I finally hit lucky and got offered a full time (temporary) job till end of the school year. That was back in February. So what with my two month contract before Christmas, lots of single days and and now this, I reckon I will have worked about 150 days (of 195) as a Supply teacher this school year.
My applications certainly got smarter, if not better. I use a generic one which I always tweak depending on the school's Improvement plan, their HMIE report or anything unique from their website. Just be super careful not to leave the wrong school name in!! Once I have my foot in the door I generally fail the interview (apart from one obviously) but I was definitely getting closer. The trouble is you never know if you are up against any 'incumbents'. At one interview I found out I was up against a supply teacher who had been in and out of that school on long term supply contracts for four years. I had no chance!! Although I was failing interviews, on two separate occasions someone from the panel liked me enough to contact me soon after with offers of long stretches of supply work.
If you have thick skin get the feedback. Some I got was so good, and constructive, it virtually secured my success at my final interview. Some was so poor I had to bite my tongue. How's this for an example:-
Interview question: In your opinion what defines a good school?
Foolishly I warbled on about the safety, happiness and motivation of children. The answer they were looking for referred to having a good 'mission statement'. I am so glad I didn't get that job or that my daughter didn't go there!
The admin is so shambolic that every week I get texts, emails, phonecalls asking if I can work at schools even though I am registered with one school till the end of the year. I can only assume they are severely understaffed. The alternative does not bear thinking about.
And finally, I was not selected for the 'pool' interview for the 2012-13 council jobs. I assume I mucked up the new-style application form, which was a blow, although no feedback is available. I was gutted but no matter, there is plenty work available and to be honest I probably stand more chance building my own reputation in schools across the council.
Maybe one day I will be that person you are up against in interview, but without knowing it you will have no chance. Your perfectly rehearsed answers about mission statements and GIRFEC will count for nothing, because my 8 years supply work there will ensure that I get the job ahead of you.
Although I have no permanent job I think I have been relatively lucky with supply work.
Since the start of term, after a VERY slow start, I have had 4 single days work and a 2 month contract which ended at Christmas. During my 2 month stint I was turning down loads of other work - I work for Falkirk council.
No two single days of Supply work are the same but they are fascinating for a variety of reasons:
I have had head teachers welcome me personally with kind words, a map of the school and a brochure of the main things a Supply teacher needs to know.
I have been to schools where staff could not have been more helpful
I have been to schools where I have been completely ignored in staff rooms
I have been to schools where I have had detailed plans left for me
I have been to schools where my 14 year old daughter could have left a more helpful plan
I have been to schools where I have had to deliver my own pre-prepared plans
As a Supply teacher you only get paid for 5 hours (not even 9 till 3), so.....
As it is impossible to prepare, teach and mark in 5 hours, my advice is get in early (if you have enough notice), stay on a bit after the bell, in order to do your own marking, and always leave a note for the absent teacher.
Others will tell you to turn up at 8:59 and leave when the children leave, after all that's what you get paid for. Well it's up to you, but doing it my way is more likely to get you repeat business - it certainly did for me.
Obviously not everyone can afford to live on scraps of supply work like this and it is accepted, even by Mike Russell, that some people just have to chuck it, because the COSLA deal he supported was so weak, nearly as weak as his proposal to train more teachers - not to fill full time posts you understand, just to fill the supply posts.
(It's a bit like Manchester United training more youngsters, not so that they can actually play for Manchester United, but so that they can sit on the substitutes' bench in case anyone gets injured.)
Anyway, tomorrow is a new term. I shall be dressed and ready to go from 7:30, waiting for that text or phonecall to arrive, and if it doesn't? Well, my garage needs cleared out.
Friday was my last day as a probationer. As a teacher in Bo'ness the year alwasy finishes with the Children's Fair Day: crowning of a Queen, procession through the streets etc. It was a really nice way to finish the year.
When it was all over I didn't feel sad, or unduly happy, I just felt contented that I'd done the best I could.
My top tips for any new Primary probationers are;-
Get in early and leave late. You can work 9 to 4 when you're older.
- Attend PTA meetings, discos, Fayres, anything extra curricular. Get your face known.
Start a club - homework, knitting, ICT, netball, savings, craft......... anything
Write to your class's parents in the first week about what they can expect of you. Tell them about yourself.
If your school doesn't already have one, arrange (with permission) a 'Meet the Teacher' day where the parents/carers can see and talk to you.
At Parent's night, have (at least) a full A4 typed sheet of paper for each child - they appreciate it.
Don't get involved in gossip.
Everyone else will tell you to "have fun and enjoy yourself", which I always think is the most pointless piece of advice ever given. Having fun will be a consequence of working hard and being well prepared. You can't dictate it.
It was one of the hardest year's work I have ever done, but easily the most rewarding.
I'm off for one or two of these ..
At the weekend I reminded a colleague (who has been fantastic for me) that when I started my probationary year last August, she welcomed me with the words,
"We had two fantastic probationers last year."
"No pressure then." I replied.
I asked her if she could greet next year's probationer with:-
"We had a fantastic probationer last year. He asked if he could stage a production of Bugsy Malone for the upper school pupils, something the school had never attempted before. Working with the Primary Six teacher, he arranged to have it staged at a local theatre where it sold out both nights. It was amazing. It received rave reviews in the local newsapaper and from parents and teachers alike. It raised over a £1,000 for our school. He still didn't get a job though.............. What can you do?"
Producing that show nearly finished me off. There were times I couldn't see it far enough. And for what? No extra money, no job, a few thanks and some chocolates from the kids.
If I had to do it all again.........................I wouldn't change a thing.
Not at school today.
Stuck on motorway coming home.
Got in under an hour ago.
Interview result in.....................................no permanent job. Supply if I want it.
That's okay. Worse things happen at sea.
I was 1 of 112 people interviewed for 21 full time jobs (inc. 60 probationers). Actually not as bad as I had feared. The telling should start on Monday 23rd May. Everyone who was interviewed is at least guaranteed a place on the supply list.
The interview was fine: Four questions:-
- One about my own qualities and skills.
- One about assessment.
- One about collegiate working and
- I have no idea what the the other one was....I just can't remember.
I had a panel of three interviewers. They introduced themselves. I smiled and nodded. If the first question had been "Okay, we've just introduced ourselves to you - repeat our names." I would have failed there and then, so full of mince was my head.
When we got up and running
I spoke, they wrote;
I spoke some more, they wrote some more;
I continued speaking, they continued writing;
I kept on speaking, they stopped writing,
I stopped speaking.
Whether it was okay to occasionally shout out random words and phrases, irrespective of the question, like "GLOW.... National Assessment Resource..........., BTC5............, holistic approach............, achievement not attainment........, National Priorities.........coal not dole........" I will probably never know.
I was in for about 25 minutes. I guarantee for the next few days after, you'll just keep thinking "Damm, forgot to mention this, forgot to mention that". For example I managed to forget I was the only male Primary teacher in Scotland blogging on the GTC website. Maybe that was a good thing.
So, having completed the interview, having had my GTC profile accepted as "Satisfactory" it should be an easy last 5 weeks, yes? Sadly no. In attempt to raise my profile at the start of the year I said I would produce a school show (Bugsy Malone) for the primary 6 and 7's and stage it in a local theatre. Showtime is nearly upon us, yet I am costumes short, props short. One of my cast has disappeared. One of my cast is going caravaning on the second night of the show.
In the beginning I thought "Active Spelling? Spelling...active. Write it down, learn it and move on to the 3 times table surely".
Well let me tell you about SPARKLE. If you already know about it then move along, there's nothing to see here, however if you don't...........
Get the class to stand in a circle.
Teacher says "the word is (for example) dog. Jimmy you start"
Jimmy says "d". If he gets it wrong he sits down.
Pupil next to Jimmy says "o". If he gets it wrong he sits down.
next pupil says "g". If he gets it wrong he sits down.
Next pupil says "SPARKLE". If he doesn't he sits down.
But once SPARKLE is said in the correct place the next pupil sits down.
Being a good speller might keep you in the game longer but you can never guarantee you won't be SPARKLE'd.
I typically use Dolch's list of common words and drop in topical words we have come across, plus days of week and classmates' names which is always a good one, especially if you have someone called Ruairidh.
In the beginning there was a lot of huffing and puffing, or worse, cheering, when some children went out, so it was a good chance to talk about sportsmanship and respect.
In the end you are left with 2 children standing who are 'ping-ponging' the letters of the last word back and forth.
My class love it more than they love their parents.
Let me know if you have anything similar that has worked for you.
My April Fool went down a treat. I explained to my class that the council were considering opening schools on Saturday mornings, and as an experiment the first day for trial was tomorrow, April 2nd.
"I''ve got swimming.." says one
"I''ve got football..." says another and so on and so on
"Well school is more important" says me "Now draw a line in your jotters and write the date. What is the date?..."
Oh how I laughed. Might not be laughing tomorrow when 20 odd children turn up at the school gates though.
That co-operative learning CPD session was good. Pity it didn't arrive before my shambolic observed drama lesson. Never mind, we learn more from our mistakes. Jings I must have learned a lot!
Anyway today was the end of my second term as a probationer. I feel good. I can do this - not as well as some, but better than others........Gie's a job.
My blogs are now down to one a month as opposed to one a fortnight previously. This could be a sign of me finding it tougher now.
Having made it to Christmas reasonably comfortably and feeling pretty secure, (or is that 'developing' ), this new term is proving trickier. It's a combination of having to deliver my first ever assembly, (having never seen one before); 'dividing by 3'; my new topic and Bugsy Malone. In a moment of sheer madness, I offered to produce a show for the P6 and P7s. I bet Andrew Lloyd Webber would have had less success if he had to spend most of his day before rehearsals explaing to Sarah Brightman how the commutative law does not apply in division.
On the plus side I got a new pencil case.
We have been investigating the major body organs: heart, lungs, liver, kidneys etc. Homework was to tell me two interesting things about the lungs.
One child wrote: "We can breathe better if we have good lugs."
That'll be why the wee boy, with bigger than average ears, is good at running then.
This isn't natural...........
It's Christmas Day and I'm wondering whether Billy should be in the Pentagons or the Squares for Maths.
(trans.) - it's no real!
My school was closed all last week.
The upside of this was
1) I managed to get my CPD folder up to date
2) I prepared an extra week's lessons and
3) I built an awesome snowman with my daughter.
The downside was
4) I realised just how many people think teachers are complete wasters in times like these.
So this week (so far) my school is still closed to pupils but now the teachers have to turn up. Why? Not sure. To prove they're alive I think. Not even to their own school. Any old school in the area will do, as long as they are inconvenienced in some way. A classic example of a race to the bottom.
Like many schools not in a city centre, we are not next to a train station, and so with the buses cancelled, I dug my car out of the snow and set off on my adventure despite police urging motorists to stay at home. (Sorry guys I need the cash). Needless to say it was a slippy,slidey,wheelspinning,ungritted roller coaster of a journey. At least I got there and back eventually. A fellow colleague got stuck and had to call the AA - apparently they are bored waiting for the phone to ring these days anyway.
Tomorrow I shall be walking. I'll have to set off at half past six in the morning and I might get run over by a snow plough but hey-ho, at least it will prove I am a responsible citizen able to understand the different beliefs and cultures....of my council.
..so it's five minutes before hometime and we're playing "Guess what Louie is thinking". It's probably got a hundred other names but basically I write a word on the board. Six year old child stands with their back to the board while her team helps her to guess what the word is by describing it without using the word written. I write "banana". Then...........
Team: "It's a fruit."
6 year old: "Apple."
Team: "It's yellow."
6 year old: "Orange"
Team: (stunned silence)
me (desperately trying to keep a straight face) "So close..eh...good try....oh was that the bell.?"
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