Dear Full Contract Teachers:
Thank you for trusting me with your class, and asking me to be your supply when you are away from your students. My bank account appreciates the work, especially during this time of “work to rule” which has cut off almost all opportunities for occasional teachers to get jobs.
As much as I appreciate the work, I have a few issues I’d like to discuss. This applies to the few, not to the many.
First of all, when I’m walking down the hall, and I smile and say hello, please say it back. It’s intimidating to be in your school, especially the first few times. It does not get easier as time goes on. You intimidate me – you have been teaching for longer than I have known how to read non-picture books. I aspire to be you in the future. Purposely not making eye contact, and ignoring my small gestures makes me feel small and insignificant.
When in the staff room during breaks, don’t just talk over me like I’m not sitting there. Yes I know you want to discuss the hockey game with your friend from across the hall who is sitting on the other side of me, maybe I watched it too and am just too shy to interject into a conversation with people I don’t know. Also, when you belittle and talk about your co-teachers or EA’s or ECE’s while they are not in the staff room, it imprints on me. My opinion of you decreases every time you say something bad about those you work with in such a public setting. It also magnifies the feeling that I am in fact invisible to you.
To those who treat occasional teachers as personal help: yes we are there to teach your class and take over your duties for the day. I should not be required in your day plans to mark yesterday’s math test, or photocopy pages for your lessons for the rest of the week. I do so because you have asked me to, and if I do maybe you will request me for the next time you need a supply. You have a constant income, I rely on you for my pay check. I don’t mind doing small things during my prep time for you, but I am not your personal assistant to be used to catch up on things from last week.
To the many teachers who make the effort: THANK YOU. Thank you for making me feel like a valued member of the teaching community. When you smile and say hello using my first name, it shows you have taken the time to get to know me. Thank you for passing my card along to your co-workers, it makes me feel like I am doing a good job and that you appreciate how I fit into your class. Thank you for talking to the child who was disrespectful all day to me, and for the note from them the next time I was in your class. Thank you for taking the time to send me an email after reading my notes on the day, being told that the class acts like that for you every day makes it easier for me to accept how the day went. It boosts my self-esteem to know that my inexperience in this field was not the cause of my frustration and tears.
A frustrated occasional teacher