January 25, 2013

"Just" an OT

Whenever anyone asks me what I do for a living, I tell them I teach.  The question that always follows is:


"Oh! What grade?"

And that's when I do it. That's when I say:


"I'm just a supply teacher."


Why do I do this to myself?  Why do I minimize what I do for a living by saying I'm "just" a supply teacher (hence the title of this post).  Is an occasional teacher less of a teacher because he or she doesn't have a classroom of their own?



In reality, an occasional teacher can be just as good, just as qualified and just as experienced as a permanent teacher. 
And, dare I say, sometimes even more so!  Let me count the ways:


  • As an occasional teacher, I teach in several different schools, therefore see many different styles of teaching from my colleagues.  I learn from them, jot down great ideas for classroom management, curriculum development, extracurricular etc.  
  • Because I work at so many different schools, I also learn that some things just don't work.  I learn from my colleagues mistakes and I know what to avoid once I have my own classroom! ;)
  • I have seen difficult students throw things at each other (and at the teacher) in frustration, but I have also witnessed the techniques used to calm them down.  
  • I have seen staff treat students like dirt and I have been an advocate for them.
  • Kids have come to me to confess that they are being mistreated at home, and I've had to make "the call".
  • I have spent entire recesses with kids who are being ignored by others, just to listen to their stories and show some interest in them.
  • I have seen amazing teachers deliver a packed curriculum in wonderful, unique ways!
  • I have been in classrooms where there were no emergency plans left behind, and I've had to improvise , manage behaviors and teach something relevant to students who are happy to have a supply teacher because they think they can get away with murder.
  • I have formed strong friendships with my colleagues and I have now have an great support system and resource bank because of those friendships.
But most important of all, I have formed bonds with students from 8 different schools, from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12.  Kids who are happy to see me in their classroom when their teacher is away because, as some have said, I teach them and treat them with respect.  
That's all they really need from a supply teacher.

You see? That's why being an occasional teacher has given me an advantage.  
So from now on, when someone asks me what I do, I will answer with I'm a teacher.  
And when they ask me what grade, I'll answer:

"All of them."


Graphics from Scrappin' Doodles



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