You are not alone, it’s quite normal, all teachers and support staff in schools experience challenging days. Days when you wonder why you’re involved in teaching and if it’s worth the stress that sometimes comes with the territory. This is sometimes made worse by being a supply teacher or support staff filling in for others because you’re constantly changing schools. Almost as soon as you find yourself settling in, the assignment ends and then you have to start all over again.
The past year has been even more challenging and stressful due to Covid-19 and national lockdowns. Some have not worked since March 2020 and are now feeling anxious about whether they should or can return. Others worked all or part the way through having to navigate the ever-changing rules and regulations in addition to taking huge risks with catching the virus in school.
It’s in times like these that it’s good to be reminded what an important role you’re in, filling the gap so a school is not forced to close and providing continuity for the children in the class. It takes a special kind of teacher or support staff to adapt quickly to new schools and gain the trust and respect of the children in the classroom. It’s one of the reasons that good supply teachers and support staff are in high demand.
Knowing that you’re valued goes a long a way to getting you through challenging days, but maintaining motivation takes more than that. Your belief in what you’re doing is just as important. So what gets you out of bed in the morning? Where do you find encouragement?
Belief starts with you
Sometimes all it takes is the smile of child who has achieved a good test score, or finally got a concept they’ve been struggling with. Those are moments to be treasured for sure. But what will make the most difference is when the warmth, energy and encouragements comes from within, when you truly believe in the work that you’re doing and your passion for it shines through.
It’s a funny thing, passion. In a way, it’s almost contagious, because when you’re working with someone who absolutely loves what they do, it generates positive energy that encourages others to give their best too. Your passion for teaching can help you engage with the children in your classroom and give you the confidence you need to stand up there or working one to one day after day sharing your knowledge and encouraging young minds to learn.
But what about the days when energy levels are low or you feel anxious and you don’t feel the passion you usually do? Smile anyway. Smile because even though you don’t feel like being there, you’re there anyway. You showed up! Sometimes being motivated isn’t about what you feel, but rather about what you choose to do. When you choose to go to work, when you choose to be passionate and energetic about the teaching you do, it can make all the difference.
Getting it right sometimes means getting it wrong
In the same way, you can choose to respond to negative feedback or unruly behaviour in a way that is positive. Nobody gets everything right all the time. In fact, some of the most successful people in the business world will openly admit that their many failures contributed to their success. It taught them how not to do things and make them seek out ways to do things better. As long as you’re willing to learn from your mistakes, failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can be the best teacher of all.
As a supply teacher or support staff you have a unique opportunity to build into the lives of young people and make a positive contribution in the classrooms that you enter. Your skills and experience can help bridge the gap for scholars and teachers alike. And being exposed to many different schooling environments you have a great opportunity to learn from others and adapt the best of what you see into your personal teaching style.
Schools need supply teachers and support staff more now than ever before as teachers must self-isolate for all sorts of reasons. Being part of the difference for a school remaining open and children having the opportunity to get back to normal makes what you do even more remarkable.
It’s worth it if you choose it to be, it’s worth it if you believe it to be.