It happens to everybody, but a rotten day at school can really knock you for six. So how can you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again?
1. Distance yourself
Put a bit of distance between you and your day, before you start to unpick it. Take a walk or crank up the stereo in the car and sing along.
2. Get it in perspective
Most times, it’s not the whole day that’s bad; it’s a little bit of it. Whether it’s a lesson where behaviour got out of hand, a logistical problem or a misinterpreted comment, try to think of it in the context of the whole day and pick out the positives. Why should five or ten minutes ruin your whole work day? Why should it ruin your evening too?
3. Take what you can from it
If there’s a lesson to be learnt which can help you in the future, make a note of it and take action if necessary, as soon as you can. Ruminating on things you can’t change and you couldn’t have prevented, is pointless. Often when a supply day is difficult it is a combination of factors, some of which you will be able to influence and some of which you just won’t. For example, it is very common to get caught in the crossfire as a supply teacher. Schools are complex social organisations and it is all too easy, especially if you are new to the school, to get on the wrong side of a situation you didn’t even know was happening!
4. Take action
If you need to take further action (perhaps compose an email to give your account of an incident, or ask for some clarification) make your notes as soon as possible, but don’t rush to send the email. A good tip here is to compose it without adding the recipients until you are ready to send. If you can, go away and have a cuppa and then read it again before you press send.
5. Rant if you must, but be careful
If you find a good on-line vent is the best medicine, protect yourself. Once something is on the internet, even in a closed Facebook group or private message, it can be screenshotted and circulated. Don’t put anything in your post that can identify the school, staff or children you are talking about – you don’t want your true thoughts turning up in the wrong news-feed!
6. You come first
Be kind to yourself. None of us are perfect, and often teachers have a tendency to beat themselves up over things. Even the most experienced teachers have a nightmare day from time to time!
7. Learn to say ‘no’
Remember that being on supply means that you can say “no” if an assignment in that school is offered again!
Most importantly, remember that your well-being comes first and tomorrow is a fresh day! Whatever went wrong during your day, will look and feel a whole lot better tomorrow.
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