It can be hard to describe the day in the life of a teacher, as in my opinion every day is different. Although you may follow a routine and time table, you are faced with many different challenges each day as well as encountering various joyful occasions. This is one aspect of the profession that I thoroughly enjoy, as no two days ever feel the same. As a teacher, preparation is essential and is something we need to do on a daily basis. Speaking from experience lessons will always flow smoother if you have prepared well, and so as tedious as paperwork may seem, the aspect of planning greatly benefits both the teacher and children.
The start of the school day is an extremely important part of the day in my opinion. Greeting the children properly on their way into school can have an impact on how their day goes. As a teacher, I find that whatever is on your mind disappears when the children arrive into school, with them nearly always putting you in a great mood. Taking an interest in each child’s life is so important for the child’s development and happiness in their school life and so it’s something I ensure I do on a constant basis. There is a huge list of jobs that you carry out on a daily basis as a teacher, some of which will depend on the age group that you are teaching. Typically, you will greet the children in the morning and settle them in, you will teach the curriculum subjects according to a set timetable, monitor each child’s progress, ensure the children’s behaviour is satisfactory, hold class discussions, prescribe oral/group/written work to the children, mark the work in a way that will give the child something to work on, help them with various tasks during the school day (tying shoe laces, zipping up jackets, helping them find the numerous things they lose during the day!), deal with any problems that arise and send the children home hoping that they have learned some valuable things in school that day and have enjoyed their day all round.
There is a whole other list of things that happen in the school day that we cannot say are ‘typical’. These can range from behavioural issues, bullying incidents, or an unforeseen mini-crisis to deal with- things that you cannot predict will happen but that you deal with as best you can when they do arise.
There’s nothing quite like having your own class and classroom and experiencing a ‘typical’ teaching day. With this, you get to know the children on a personal level and can assess what works best in different situations and so you can define your own class rules and reward systems for the children. Although daily supply teaching does not give you this luxury, I have to admit that supply teaching has other advantages.
With supply teaching, you could say that you are thrown in the deep end in some ways -not being able to prepare as best you can, not knowing the children on a personal level, not knowing how best the children learn or their ability levels etc. However, I can honestly say that in the few months I have been doing supply teaching, I have gained a wealth of experience that has only made me a better and more competent teacher.
First of all, I have found that getting to teach all class levels has been significantly beneficial. This has given me the chance to teach age groups that I have not done in the past, and it has really built up my confidence. I now feel experienced and equipped enough to walk into a job in any class level in a school.
Secondly, I have gotten to visit a range of schools, which provides you with the advantage of gaining an insight of how various schools are run and you tend to pick up teaching/management ideas at each school. Some teachers may spend their life in only one school and so never get to experience what school life is like elsewhere. By visiting numerous work places, it can also help you make an informed decision on where you would like to work on a more permanent basis.
Thirdly, I feel that my classroom management skills have greatly improved. I came from working in a school where there was little disruption in terms of behaviour, and so classroom management meant something completely different. Now that my classroom management techniques have really been put to the test, I have learned to deal with an array of different behaviours that I might not ever have experienced. Again, this has really taken me out of my comfort zone and built up my confidence levels in knowing I am well able to deal with challenging behaviour. Once more, I feel this experience has provided me with the skill set necessary to work in any school environment, whether challenging in terms of behaviour or not.
I have come from a background working in primary schools in Ireland and feel that although the ‘typical’ school day is broadly the same, there are also numerous differences between the Irish and UK teaching systems. Where possible I try to use my experience from the Irish primary school system to complement the work I complete here. I know when I return to Ireland I will bring back a wealth of experience gained from working in schools in Manchester.