Back In The Classroom

Editor’s Note

October brings the introduction of a new StepBlogger to the site. James is a supply teacher in London that has recently returned to the classroom.


Ten years away from the classroom and I’ve just completed my first month back as a supply teacher.

The fact that I’m willing to write about it publicly suggests possibly one of two extremes; a need to share what an exhilarating experience it has been or as a cathartic exercise, an effort to wash away the stresses through words and reconnect with others in the same boat. Well, surprise surprise it’s leaning currently more towards the former rather than the latter. Though I can’t lie, it’s not all been straightforward and easy. To begin with I’m in quite a challenging school, in a department that consists of two long-term supplies, two Teach First recruits and two newly qualified teachers, leaving only six established members, all under the guise of an acting HoD.

A department in transition you could say. Consequently I have been very much left to my own devices. I am yet to even be observed by any senior staff. Department policies for assessment, homework setting or dealing with the unruly have thus far remained elusive to me. On one level this actually suits very well as I’ve been free to rid myself of a fair degree of rustiness at the front of the classroom without witness. Of course once the kids decide to play up and you’ve no idea who to send to for help, or whom to send them to, things start to go the other way as funnily enough once the kids realise this gap in your arsenal their propensity to play up strangely increases. Hey, at least it’s not boring.

Pre return to teaching this represented one of my biggest fears; that I would struggle with even low-level disruption in my classes. Yet now it is my biggest sense of progress; that even in the face of occasional hostility I have not once felt a loss of control or a rising of my temperature. I have found it very easy to remain calm and collected at all times and I believe this is directly responsible for a dramatic improvement in my students overall behaviour in the last two weeks. Nothing they have attempted to wind me up with has worked.

Yet….. The funniest incident was when four year 9 boys clearly entered my lesson with a pre planned and coordinated whistle attack. I asked the first whistler to stop and almost immediately the second piped up and was responded to similarly. Upon hearing the third one though, from clearly a third source I figured there was something more sinister afoot. They were cunning in so far as they whistled in such a way that I couldn’t confidently locate the offender each time. My response though was to smile, as I did find it quite funny that they’d actually taken time out to devise such a devilishly heinous plan, then sit down at my desk, silently open a Word document on the electronic whiteboard and type the following: ‘those hilarious musical geniuses whistling may be very interested to know that, whilst I admittedly find their stunt quite amusing, if they do continue then the whole class shall spend the upcoming break in my delightful company.’ In fairness I had no idea if it would work but not another whistle did I hear. They exited my room though at the end of the lesson with the sound of my very own whistling in their ears, which drew many smiles.

So far so good then and I’m off out with the staff this Friday on my first social in an effort to get the work life balance right. I shall report back in due course…..

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