A Day in the Life of a Supply Teacher


Meet Julie, a Supply Teacher with Vetro. Here is a short but hilarious story of her life starting out in Supply Teaching.






Sunday Night

My first day as a Supply Teacher...


Ok, so it is Sunday night and I’m freaking out! First day

of supply teaching in about 15 years tomorrow after

leaving a full-time position, honestly, I’m having second

thoughts. I’m not sure I can do this! Somehow between

the stress of a Head Of Department job, being a mam

of three and a divorce freshly under my belt (slightly

too tight due to finishing off too many ice creams over

the summer), my confidence has taken a bit of a

battering. The truth is I feel a bit of a failure ‘just doing

supply’. Have I made the right decision? I’m worried if

they are going to call tomorrow, and worried if they

don’t. What if they say there’s lots of work and really

there isn’t? Well it’s too late now, my notice has gone

in, I can’t go back if I wanted to. Well, in for a penny,

in for a pound!

I want to make a good impression, so I’ve decided

to go ‘smart’. I’m thinking heels and a pencil skirt,

and taking that nice new bag I got in the sale last

week (on my credit card, I needed a new work bag

and this will go with everything).

My sandwiches are packed, everything is ironed,

and the alarm is set for 6am. Come on girl you can

do this; it will be like riding a bike...

Monday Morning...

6:00am: I feel sick, I really don’t want to get up (I so

have to remember to change that stupid alarm clock

tune too, no one needs to wake up to James Arthur

singing about being naked). Come on, big girl pants on,

honestly what’s the worst that can happen?

A strong coffee and a shower and I’ll feel better.

Ok forget the coffee, no milk. Everyone has suddenly

decided they fancy cereal when they always have toast,

and my youngest has put the milk back in the fridge

without the top on properly. 20 minutes and three

milk-soaked tea towels later... I’d better get in the


7.00am: Feeling good! My partner has taken the kids to

meet the school bus and I’m dressed to impress (I can’t

breathe in my skirt but, I’ve got it on). If I do say so

myself my new bag is simply perfect!

Arghhh just realised that two of them have forgotten

their lunch and one of them has taken mine AND


No problem. Stay calm, I’ve got a fiver in my purse. I’ll

grab something in school (if they ring, they said they

would ring after 7am, I’m sure they will...)

7:20am: No phone call. What have I done? This is a total

disaster! I shouldn’t have taken that tag off the bag, it’s

going to have to go back!

7:25am: Ok gym kit on, they are never going to call so

Body Pump it is!

7:35am: In traffic enroute to the gym, and the phone

goes... it’s the agency, seriously?

“Hi, can you get to a school in Aberdare this morning?

They don’t mind if you’re late, they know I’m only just

calling you”

Me: “Yes, no problem partner! I’ll pop the address in my

sat nav and I’ll be there!”

What is wrong with me?

Sometimes my mouth moves and words come out

before my brain computes! Yet again I had said yes

without thinking it through, I was in my gym kit! I can’t

wear a sweaty gym kit that’s been lying about for days,

to a school! Yes, I had my other smarter clothes in my

gym bag but how was I going to get changed in a


Well, with difficulty it turns out!

I parked up in a side street, pulled some kind of

superman stunt (getting some very strange looks from

passers-by), and in my slightly creased yet smarter

ensemble (although now with makeup on the collar), I

was on the road.

This supply malarkey had better be worth the money.

Beep Beep! First day of supply teaching here I come!

8:30am: I had made it! There wasn’t as much traffic as I

thought either. As luck would have it there was a

parking space too, right by the front. Almost as if

meant for me, perfect! All signed in at reception and

given directions to the staff room for daily briefing.

Now I’m here I actually feel quite excited! I have really

missed the feel of a staff room with all the chatter and

the lovely smell of fresh coffee on the go. I get passed

what looks like my timetable for the day, a map of the

school and a sheet of passwords and instructions and

then everything goes silent...

A gentleman in a smart suit walks in... that must be the


“Good morning everyone, apologies for being late.

Someone in a mini has parked in my marked spot so I

had to park down the road and walk up.”

I glance out of the window and yep there it was is, my

trusted mini parked right over a huge yellow sign that

blatantly says, ‘HEADTEACHER’ in capital letters.

Whoops... Perhaps I better book in for an eye test with

my first week’s pay!

A quick apology (he just laughed. Phew!), followed by

asking for directions for the toilet, and first lesson it is.

Let’s see if I can get to lunch time before I mess

anything else up!

9:00am: Lesson 1 - “Hi Miss, are you our Supply


There goes the bell and suddenly I’m hit by a strong

wave of Lynx ‘Africa,’ and Impulse ‘A Hint of Musk’.

According to my timetable print out this will be Maths,

Year 8, here goes!

Work all set on the desk, the students all getting their

books out, and all are on task before I have even had

chance to explain.

“We know what to do Miss, don’t worry. Our teacher

told us she would be off yesterday.”

One student even helped me with getting the register

up on the PC and helped me make sense of my


Well, it was all going well. In fact, they were so quiet

that we didn’t pack away in time for the bell.

“Thank you, Miss, for all your help, I enjoyed that


If supply is like this all day I’m going to love this!

Next lesson on the timetable is French, let’s see how

this goes then. I can’t speak a word of French, so I don’t

know how this is going to go...

10.00am: Lesson 2 - Arrived late. Note to self, I need to

pack up earlier because I don’t have the ability to

teleport myself from one end of the school to the other,

so that five minutes travel time makes all the


Another note to self, DO NOT wear heels! I may feel like

the business in them, but I am just not one of those

girls who can run in them, my feet are on fire!

"Miss, just so you know, we don't do any work for


Not the politest welcome but accurate and observant. I

really do need to remember today, power walking in

heels and a pencil skirt that I can hardly breathe in

was, as I just found out, near impossible.

“Miss, just so you know, we don’t do any work for


The work set for the lesson is a pile of A4 white paper

and instruction saying, ‘Design a French poster’.

It turns out the teacher has had to leave in for an

emergency. I look down at my timetable... Year 9.

“She’s off quite a bit, Miss, she’s pregnant. Sick all the

time. She puked last lesson when James Marshall took

his tuna and mayonnaise sandwich out of his bag and

dropped it all over the floor. When are you due, Miss? Is

it a girl or a boy?”

Okay, I’m 100% not wearing this skirt again and I’m

going to the gym on the way home - my youngest is 8!

An hour of conversations about nail art and Love Island,

and some impressive paper aeroplanes, and the bell

rings for break.

They did do some work but according to the teacher in the

room next door they have been known to run loose in the

corridors with supply teachers, so it seems just

containment was a success today.

I need to learn to not be so hard on myself, but first a


11:15am: How is break over? Literally a quick run to the

toilet and it’s third lesson. I really need to jot down the

toilet code so I don’t spend most of break trying to find a

member of staff who knows it! I need caffeine so badly I’m

starting to twitch. Next time I’m coming prepared with a


11:30am: English Year 10. Some students are there early

already waiting for me and some a bit late, but all in all

they seem a much calmer bunch than the last class

thankfully! The work set is for me to continue reading, ‘Of

Mice and Men’ to the class as a whole and for them to

answer a few questions about the text on the board. They

loved it! Even as teenagers they just loved being read to.

I enjoyed it myself and having not read it before, I think I’m

going to have to order myself a copy to see what happens

at the end.

12:30am: Last lesson before lunch, a SEN Science class. A

little bit nervous if I’m honest as Science isn’t my strong

point, and I’m not that experienced with SEN classes in


Three LSA’s meet me at the door and my queue of

students is less than ten. I hadn’t given it much

thought but of course I wouldn’t be on my own, even

though I’m the classroom teacher for today the student

support teachers are still here and they were quick to

brief me on important information I needed to know

about some of the students.

Today’s lesson involves a guest speaker, so I am

assisting and encouraging the students to ask

questions for me whilst watching a demonstration

about static and some balloons. I’m not sure who

enjoyed it more today, them or me haha.

1:30pm: Lunchtime! I am staving! No lunch with me

(kids!) so off to the canteen (secretly hoping for Jam

Roly Poly like when I was in school).

“I’m sorry, Miss, but we’re a no cash school, everything

is on thumb print. There’s a local shop just down the

road. Take a left out of the gate, five minutes’ walk or


Well five minutes is enough to be completely drenched

from head to toe it seems. Another item reminder for

my bag, an umbrella! Not much choice of sandwiches

but it’s food, and I think I would eat anything right

now. I’ll have to eat it on the way back now though. I’m

definitely hiding my sandwiches on the top shelf of the

fridge next time. I wonder if whoever took both

actually ate both? Probably knowing my lot.

fridge next time. I wonder if whoever took both

actually ate both? Probably knowing my lot.

2:15pm: Last lesson - Design Technology Year 10.

Practical work cancelled (Health and Safety because

their usual classroom teacher was away, and all the

tools were locked away), but after a bit of moaning

everyone is on board with some brainstorming.

An enjoyable lesson to finish off the day because

although I’m no DT expert I really felt like I got to teach

them a skill this afternoon that they can transfer across

all their subjects.

A few of the students were in the English lesson earlier

too so a few friendly faces and some relationships

starting to build. I imagine that in some ways if you go

the same school quite regularly you probably get to

know the students quite quickly.

3:15pm: Home time! I stayed for ten minutes just to

make sure everything was put away, but I suddenly

had this overwhelming feeling of relief of no usual

Monday afternoon staff meeting, and no marking or

planning this evening. I would get to spend the

evening with my family instead of stuck behind a pile

of books or on my laptop.

A mixed day but all-in-all a success! I’m sure I saw a Costa

on the way back and I’m not meeting the kids off the bus

until 4:30pm, I’m going to treat myself!

Just as I get to the car my phone goes it’s the agency.

“How did your day go? Did you enjoy it? They loved you!

How do you feel about going there for the rest of the


Me: “It was fab thanks, yes please that would be great!”

Agency: “Brilliant I’ll let them know, and just remember to

fill your timesheet in for everyday and email it back to us

by Friday. You’ll get paid for this week at the end of next

week then”

Me: “Really? Just checking too, I didn’t have any work to

mark either, is that normal?”

Agency: “Yep, welcome to being a day-to-day Supply

Teacher. Enjoy your evening and thanks for today. It’s

great having you on board. You’re going to have loads of

work if you want it, just let us know the areas and schools

you would prefer and how many days you would like

every week.”

Boom! I’m sure there are going to be ups and downs but

I’m struggling to see the benefits of a full-time position

over my experience today. Part-time, full-time, or time-totime,

Supply Teaching here I come!




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