I'm sure in every job, there are inconveniences to being off and leaving someone else at the reigns, but comments like "well, you might need your bones and ligaments all down your leg being broken, detached, reattached and screwing into a new place, but at least you get a few weeks off work" make me think that maybe it's not quite the same!
Yes, I have had the joy of sitting on my generous behind all day for the past 5 weeks, but at no point did I think "woohoo! Time off!". Okay...maybe going to sleep without setting my alarm for 6.30am...but other than that, there was a plethora of class-related thoughts swirling around with the morphine, from the educationally significant to my classroom organisation OCD! In no particular order (LIES: this is the order they appeared in my head, therefore my twisted priorities!), some of my top billers:
1. Can my kiddie-winks cope without me?!
Well, there is really no good answer to this!
No = worry: does the supply teacher not understand the specific needs of each and every one of them? Did I forget to tell him/her something important about the emotional wellbeing of any of them? This is the point when you really realise how emotionally invested you are in the children. Are they happy without me? This leads you to...
Yes = what?! They're happy without me? What about that special bond only I could ever possibly have had with them? Surely the supply teacher isn't as funny / fun / creative as me...are they? This is the little devil on your shoulder who secretly kind of hopes that they really miss you and their world will collapse if you're not there.
Of course, what you really want is far closer to yes they are fine but maybe with a little pinch of missing you too!
2. Has my classroom been destroyed??
When I return, what horrors will I face? A half day CPD session can result in terrors such as 3 glue sticks on one table and 5 on another, pencils where only pens should be and don't even get me started on trying to find a green pen! Maybe it's just me, but I'm way tidier in my classroom than in my house! Every single thing in there has a place. One of the first things I work on is respecting their classroom. However, no matter how well I think I've taught them to put things away and look after them, this part of their memory seems to melt away within hours of me leaving the room.
All this considered, what can I expect after 5 WEEKS?! Do I still have a full compliment of paints? Are there pegs with children's names on strewn all over the floor? And don't get me started on their exercise books! Will my topsy-turvy groups-friendly books just be stuffed without love into the nearest magazine rack?! Okay, so composing this has made me realise that these things are not that bad..surely...breathe... Maybe it would be easier to just burn down the classroom and start over...
3. Did they use my plans?
What answer am I even hoping for here?! If they didn't stick to my planning, then all of my hours were wasted! If they did, then did they not respond to the children's interest and the outcomes of the earlier lessons? I guess this has taught me that a good balance is probably planning the first week and then giving an outline of objectives and ideas for subsequent weeks.
4. Do I have 1500 pieces of work to write 'supply' on?
LOOK AT WHAT THEY HAVE DONE!!!! As you may know, I'm a big advocate of useful, succinct marking rather than a perfunctory comment on every piece of work. That being said, at least acknowledge their work! For 'right or wrong' type activities, have the kids mark their own for instant, valuable feedback and just take a peek when you get a minute, but if you've given them a next step or piece of advice, see if they've followed it. Let them know how they're getting on - if it needs more practice, checking, editing, or if it is just plain awesome!
Phew! This is probably one of my most cathartic posts ever. Just writing all of this has made me realise that as long as they are happy and learning, it's all good. I have faith in most supply teachers, particularly the fab one who I know has been covering me this half term. Please don't think for a minute that I think that supply teachers are unskilled or don't care - most have been exceptional. Yet somehow, I still can't stop worrying!! I've decided that it's sometimes far less stressful to be there!
Your pet peeves?
I'd love to hear your own over-dramatised worries about leaving your class (if only to reassure me that I'm not crazy!!!)
Hi! I'm Mrs P: passionate primary school teacher!