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The Rookie Teacher



Optimism vs. The Supply List: How to Make the Most of a “Day Off” 0

Posted on November 14, 2016 by Allison Dyjach

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” –Paul Meyer

Supply teaching can be unpredictable. You never know when the phone will ring or an old contact will text you, and you certainly never know what school you will end up at day to day. I have been living the life of unpredictability this year, but there is one thing that has remained consistent this entire school year: supply calls do not come my way on Mondays.

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A great gem for any classroom. Source: http://theberry.com

This has been an odd trend to adjust to so far. You spend Sunday evening packing up a lunch to go, sadly accepting that the weekend is over, and gear up for a day of work, hopeful that a phone call will be your alarm in the morning. However, when you wake up Monday morning, ready to start the workweek again, nothing happens. All of the energy that you spent convincing yourself that Mondays are all right and going back to work is fun is now gone. You have officially achieved a three-day weekend for the fourth time in a row, but somehow it doesn’t feel like an accomplishment at all.

Today is once again an unwanted Monday at home. I have to admit, I loved having a few extra days off to relax in September when I was just getting back into the school routine. But as the months went on and “unemployed Mondays” turned into a routine thing, I was finding that I needed something to keep me busy and I was craving the feeling of being productive (Netflix wasn’t cutting it anymore). I slowly found ways to focus my attention and efforts and get work done, even if I wasn’t at work.

So, as I’m going into month 3 of the school year, here are some ways that I have been keeping myself on track during my “days off:”

  1. Wake up early and eat a good breakfast: When it’s 8:30am on a Monday morning and you still haven’t received a call, the temptation to go back to bed and sleep the morning away is beyond powerful. BE STRONG. For one thing, you never know when a last minute supply call will come your way and you will need to be out the door in 10 minutes. Also, forcing yourself to get up, get dressed, and eat breakfast, even if you aren’t going anywhere will make the day much more productive and enjoyable in the long run (I’m sure we can all agree that 9 times out of 10, sleeping in until noon is filled with ultimate regret).

    img_9093

    A big batch of granola for snacks and breakfasts is one of my “day off” go to’s

  1. Meal prep for the week: Now this is one of my favourite ways to spend an unexpected home day. I supply teach at multiple schools that are located in rural communities. With no fast food restaurants in sight, this means that I need to be prepared with a lunch to bring to school every single day. I would consider myself a very healthy eater; however there are always days that I get into a meal slump. I find myself eating crackers and an apple because I failed to organize my meals for the week. Having an entire day to make a large batch of soup, quinoa salad, or chop up veggies for snacks leaves me feeling productive and excited about my week of healthy meals all ready to go.
  1. Get into a school: As a relatively new teacher, I view every experience working with children or other teachers as a fantastic learning opportunity. The more that you are in the classroom, being paid or not, the better your teaching skills will be. Connect with a school in your area about volunteering and see if you can arrange some sort of agreement where you can come in to help out on days when you are left without a call. Most principals and teachers are extremely understanding of the schedule of an occasional teacher, and jump at the opportunity to have a certified teacher lend a hand in one of their classrooms.
  1. Check out professional development opportunities: What is your board’s policy for professional development for occasional teachers? Personally, my board offers a variety of online PD sessions that we can work on throughout the year and get paid for. This means that I can spend my day learning about new teaching strategies or assessment methods, even if I’m not in a classroom. Because occasional teachers are not assigned directly to schools, it can be difficult to get involved in professional development activities, so make sure you know what your board has to offer and take advantage of it.
  1. Run all of your day time errands: If you know that Mondays are always going to be slow for supplying, use that day to book doctor’s appointments, oil changes, or day time meetings. It’s the worst feeling when you have to book off a work day to get things done, but you can feel slightly better when it’s a day that typically produces little to no work regardless.

It’s hard when you don’t get to do what you love all the time, especially when you feel so ready to be in a classroom every single day. Being an occasional teacher can be mentally draining; it takes an immense amount of hard work, optimism, and resiliency. However, every single day that goes by brings you closer to that full time dream and will teach you something new. So be sure to make every day a positive and productive one, whether it starts with that coveted phone call or not.

How do you combat the unpredictability of supply teaching? Share your ideas in the comments below, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter!

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Optimism Vs. The Supply List: What I’ve Learned So Far 3

Posted on February 02, 2016 by Allison Dyjach

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.” – Simon Sinek

Scenario 1: Wake up at 6:45am, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack a lunch, pack up your bags, wait patiently. Stare at phone, stare at phone for longer, stare at phone while you still don’t get a phone call to teach. Check email in desperation. No jobs. Force yourself to continue on with the day while checking phone at 15-minute intervals. Continue attempts to be productive, checking that the volume on your phone is still on every hour. 1pm, no use checking anymore. Carry on with your day, go to bed, with hopes that tomorrow will be better.

Scenario 2: Wake up at 6:45am, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack a lunch, pack up your bags, wait patiently. Phone rings, listen for job, accept job, rush around the house collecting your things. Hang out with kids all day, mingle with teachers and administrators, wander around school looking for the bathroom, encounter technological difficulties of some sort, have a great moment with a student, have a challenging moment with a student, remember why you fell in love with teaching. Bell rings, send them on their way, tidy classroom and go on your way. Carry on with your day, go to bed, with hopes that tomorrow will be even better.

Overhead of smartphone with pen

https://tribktla.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/table-thinkstockphotos-495842183.jpg

Every Tuesday and Friday since January, this has been my life. I was one of the fortunate ones that managed to get myself onto a supply list within a year of graduating teacher’s college, but due to a previous job commitment can only supply two days a week for the time being. When I tell my friends excitedly that I have been supply teaching, they ask about the schools I have been to, what I have had to teach, how the kids are, etc. I tell them about how good it feels to be in a classroom again, and a few funny anecdotes that seem to come with each job. Then, this next question always seems to come up: “So how do you know if you’re going to get a call or not?” I laugh and tell them the truth—you don’t. There is no way to know if I will receive one of those random calls each morning. I go on to tell my friends about my morning routine, how I wake up early and am ready to head out the door by 7:30am, in the event that I do get a phone call. I explain all of this to them, and then I am generally met with a look of disbelief. Compared to 99% of other jobs, it may seem ludicrous that I get dressed up and ready to go to a job that might not even exist that day. But, as I said, this is my life.

For the past four weeks I have experienced almost every emotion imaginable when it has come to my job prospects. The first day that I was available to supply and did not receive a call, I spent the majority of my morning listening to sad music and napping on the couch. In contrast, the second time I was left without a job, I read a book, completed a whole list of work for my current online course, applied to summer jobs, did laundry, cooked a healthy lunch, and several other productive and positive things. This is one of the great difficulties of being an occasional teacher. The days that you teach can make you feel on top of the world—feeling like you are making connections and impacting students and inching closer towards that dream of having your own classroom. But then, the days when you sit at home praying for the phone to ring and it simply doesn’t, it can make you feel a little bit, well, defeated.

 

So, advice time. Like I said, I am still very new to this. It has only been a month, so I would say I am still in the “honeymoon” phase where getting calls 50% of the time makes me jump for joy. But there are some things that I have learned already that seem to make a difference about whether I am going to spend the day napping on the couch, or running around the house actually getting work done:

  • Focus on the good. I know it’s hard to; I have days where optimism is not even on my radar (ie. the couch days). But, if you are on a supply list–guess what–that means that that a school
    44aa6dce773d6c97d0a4f568ad48b940

    This will hang in my classroom someday…

    board likes you. It means that you met with school board administrators in an interview and they thought you would be a good teacher. Your skills are valued and you have the opportunity to engage with students, even if it’s only for 6 hours of their entire lives. Remember why you got into teaching in the first place (hint, to spend time with kids!), so when you’re having a low day, you can think back to some of your favourite teaching moments to get yourself back into your “happy place.” Slowly but surely, you are making a difference in peoples’ lives, and supply teaching is the first step for all of that.

  • That being said, starting out in the teaching world can be frustrating (for those of you reading around the globe, the teaching market in Ontario is a tricky one to navigate right now). Now this is the important part: it is okay to feel frustrated, and upset, and sad, and depressed, and really, really angry. You shouldn’t feel ashamed about being upset, so deal with these feelings in a way that works best for you. Talk with friends or family, write, create art, or work out. And remember, there is a difference between dealing with negative emotions and dwelling on them. It’s healthy to be sad about something, but if you find that the negativity is impacting other aspects of your life such as sleeping/eating habits, social life, or motivation, reach out for help so that you can get the support that you need.
  • Find productive ways to spend time on days off. At this very moment, I am writing this article because I did not receive a supply call today. Enroll in an online course or look into other professional development opportunities; use a day off to prep meals/lunches for the week; start that teaching blog you’ve always wanted to create; or use it to actually make some of the Pinterest teaching DIY’s you’ve been putting off. Just because you’re not “working” doesn’t mean you can’t get work done.
  • People will comment, and question, and try to give advice…take it all with a grain of salt. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they have a nephew or a cousin or their boyfriend’s best friend went to China or England to get a teaching job…I wouldn’t need a job anymore. I could also get rich from the amount of times people have told me “the teaching job market is so difficult right now!” or that it will be impossible for me to find a job. I am very aware of these things. I did not expect to land a full time teaching job the year after teacher’s college, but yes, I still want to be a teacher. I find that because teaching is such a widespread and public career, it can come with a lot of unwanted commentary. Many people will give you advice that is genuinely helpful; in cases like these, keep your ears open and take all of the advice you can get. But other times, comments can catch you off guard and make you doubt the decisions you have made (maybe you should have gone to China…). But, if you have a passion for teaching and you have dreams of having your own classroom in a school, then this is the route you have to take—don’t let others shake your confidence.
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Another favourite. Thank you, Pinterest.

Do these tips make me an expert? Not a chance. I don’t know everything, but what I do know is that I have a long road ahead of me when it comes to occasional teaching, long-term occasional placements, and part time contracts, so I want to do everything that I can to ensure that I am not in a state of burn out when the opportunity for a full time position does come knocking. Remaining optimistic, taking care of ourselves, and working as hard as possible are some of the only things that we can control when it comes to supply teaching. I’m sure all of you have seen one of those “Attitude is Everything!” posters in a classroom before. Well, those posters aren’t just for students. Attitude is everything and remaining positive in the face of uncertainty can help keep you focused and grounded. Each morning, one of those two scenarios will happen…and it’s up to you to make the most of whatever side the coin lands on.

 

We want to hear from YOU too! What did you do/are doing currently to remain positive during your first couple of months working as a supply teacher? Any advice to share with our readers? Leave a comment below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter!

 

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Occasional Teacher Mini Series: Planning/Prep Coverage: The Lounge Podcast: Episode 7 7

Posted on February 20, 2012 by Natasha

The Lounge is a biweekly podcast brought to you by TheRookieTeacher[dot]ca.

Welcome to our Occasional Teacher Mini Series.  On this episode, two RookieTeachers discuss Life as Rotary (Planning/Prep Coverage) Teacher: When you only have 40 Minutes.  It’s no secret that as rookies, most of us will begin our careers as a supply teacher, 0.## contracts, planning, rotary, long term occasional teacher, etc. Chances are that you will begin your permanent (or LTO) in a part-time contract with prep coverage, even .18, is better than nothing!  Listen in to hear Andrew share his experiences as a French Teacher, including: his classroom management strategies, the routines he built, and how he manages assessment and evaluation for ~200 students.

SHOW NOTES

Each episode features three segments:

  1. Topic Discussion
  2. Quick Tip for Tomorrow
  3. The Rookie Resource Bank

Topic: Life as a Rotary (Planning/Prep Coverage) Teacher: When you only have 40 Minutes

photo: creativeorganizing.typepad.com

photo: creativeorganizing.typepad.com

Quick Tip for Tomorrow: Something you could do the next day in class with little or no prep and is applicable to most grade levels.

  • Andrew: Magazine Boxes (for yourself, for students who require accommodation, and to keep your students organized). As a bonus, you can have students decorate them (according to The Arts: Visual Arts curriculum). There are many DIY magazine box projects on Pinterest.com.
  • NatashaPermanent 4-corner sheets (put them in page protectors with butterfly clips for easy transportability)
The Rookie Resource Bank: any electronic, print, or event resource that we found helpful in our first few years of teaching.  Of course, these are all applicable to all teachers.
  • AndrewIndex Cards on a Ring (assessment/evaluation strategies, observation notes, handy to pass off to someone else). Option: colour code them!
  • Natasha: CDs (or websites) that come with resource/text books – USE THEM!  Often contain lesson plans, printables, assessment/evaluation strategies
Quick Shout Outs
  1. New Teacher Chat <#ntchat> on Wednesdays at 8:00pm EST on twitter > twebevent.com/ntchat [using this website saves you from having to add the hashtag to each post]
  2. Thank you to all the guest bloggers who have submitted an article to the site – we really appreciate your support and willingness to share your stories and experiences
photo: Neon Mic by fensterbme

photo: Neon Mic by fensterbme

Rookie Teacher Online
We are always looking for ideas, feedback, tips and tricks of the trade.  Find us on Twitter @RookieTeacherCAFacebook.com /TheRookieTeacher.  If you are looking to get involved with our team, please contact us!

Thanks for listening. Join us for our next episode when we discuss So, you’re the new one, eh?

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Occasional Teacher Mini Series: The Supply Teacher: The Lounge Podcast: Episode 6 0

Posted on February 05, 2012 by Natasha

The Lounge is a biweekly podcast brought to you by TheRookieTeacher[dot]ca.

Welcome to our Occasional Teacher Mini Series.  On this episode, two RookieTeachers discuss The Supply Teacher. It’s no secret that as rookies, most of us will begin our careers as a supply teacher, long term occasional teacher, 0.## contracts, planning, rotary, etc. That’s why Natasha and Andrew discuss supply teaching tips, routines, and networking, we look into the classroom teacher’s perspective, and finish off with a bag ‘o tricks for the occasional teacher.

Roscoe Considers Recording a Podcast

photo: zoomer, flickrcc.net

SHOW NOTES

Each episode features three segments:

  1. Topic Discussion
  2. Quick Tip for Tomorrow
  3. The Rookie Resource Bank

Topic: Occasional Teacher Mini Series: The Supply Teacher

Quick Tip for Tomorrow: Something you could do the next day in class with little or no prep and is applicable to most grade levels.

  • Andrew: Conferencing Notes (Supply): Create a sheet that works for you that shows the classroom teacher who you helped, gave advice to etc.
  • Natasha: Mix up seating arrangements with colour strips
The Rookie Resource Bank: any electronic, print, or event resource that we found helpful in our first few years of teaching.  Of course, these are all applicable to all teachers.
  • Andrew: Centralized Digitized Media Services from your school board
  • Natasha: iTunes playlist
shout!

photo: suneko, flickrcc.net

Quick Shout Outs

  1. Any feedback you can give us for TheRookieTeacher.ca or The Lounge Podcast would be greatly appreciated > it’s as simple as commenting on the blog, sending us a tweet, posting to the FB page, or emailing us
  2. #ntchat on Wednesdays at 8:00pm EST on twitter > Natasha recommends using twebevent.com/ntchat
  3. Also check out our friends at CampHacker.org and the CampHacker podcast – camp directors are a lot like teachers

Rookie Teacher Online
We are always looking for ideas, feedback, tips and tricks of the trade.  Find us on Twitter @RookieTeacherCAFacebook.com /TheRookieTeacher.  If you are looking to get involved with our team, please contact us!

Thanks for listening. Join us for our next episode when we discuss Life as Rotary (Planning) Teacher: When you only have 40 minutes…

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BEd Alternatives: The Lounge Podcast: Episode 5 5

Posted on January 16, 2012 by Natasha

The Lounge is a biweekly podcast brought to you by TheRookieTeacher[dot]ca.

On this episode, four RookieTeachers discuss Bachelor of Education Alternatives: How are you using your BEd outside the classroom? With special guests Rebecca Jess and Rob Kempson, Natasha and Andrew investigate how Bachelor of Education graduates spend their time working outside of the classroom.  Listen in to learn how Rob manages his time between Occasional Teaching and working in the drama communities in Toronto and how Rebecca’s interest in the arts and summer camping has led her to a full time job as a Summer Camp Director.

Rob Kempson and Rebecca Jess

Guest: Rob Kempson and Rebecca Jess

SHOW NOTES

Each episode features three segments:

  1. Topic Discussion
  2. Quick Tip for Tomorrow
  3. The Rookie Resource Bank

Topic: Bachelor of Education Alternatives: How are you using your BEd outside the classroom?

Quick Tip for Tomorrow: Something you could do the next day in class with little or no prep and is applicable to most grade levels.

  • Andrew: Procedural Writing using Origami
  • Rob: Super Sonic Simon Says
  • Rebecca: Grabbing Attention with Jingles (i.e., Sleep Country; Justin Bieber’s song Baby)
  • Natasha: WallWisher.com
The Rookie Resource Bank: any electronic, print, or event resource that we found helpful in our first few years of teaching.  Of course, these are all applicable to all teachers.
Quick Shout Outs
  1. Happy New Year! 2012 is going to be a great year for TheRookieTeacher.ca.  Stay tuned, we have LOTS of amazing things planned.
  2. We reached our goal of 100 Likes (and counting) on Facebook.  Thank you for helping us spread the word about our page.  Please continue to share and post questions.
  3. Don’t forget about the great discussions happening on Twitter.  Edutopia with Lisa Dabbs host the #ntchat every Wednesday night from 8-9pm EST on twitter.

Rookie Teacher Online
We are always looking for ideas, feedback, tips and tricks of the trade.  Find us on Twitter @RookieTeacherCA, Facebook.com /TheRookieTeacher.  If you are looking to get involved with our team, please contact us!

Thanks again so much to our guests:

Thanks for listening. Join us for our next episode when we discuss Life as a Prep/Rotary/”drop in” Teacher: When you only have 40-60 minutes.

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Preferred Lists: Are you listed? 10

Posted on January 13, 2012 by Michelle

Given the number of inquiries and misconceptions about OT [occasional teacher] opportunities, it is my hope this post will help to provide some clarity in relation to the preferred lists in Ontario school boards.

113:365 - Casterings Director by Nomadic Lass, flickrCC

Photo by Nomadic Lass, flickrCC.net

What is a preferred list, you might ask? In some boards, OTs can request to be added to a school’s list for “guaranteed” supply opportunities, placing them in priority sequence. In order to be added, they must have previous placement or work experience at the school. The purpose is simple – quality classroom consistency. Rather than sending requests through the internal callout system, teachers, administrators, and school secretaries may book specific OTs in advance. These lists, however, can be difficult to gain access to and often invoke the “it’s all in who you know” argument among those who have yet to be placed on a preferred list.

Preferred lists, however, are highly dependent on the OT locals’ collective agreement. In many cases, school boards have disposed of these internal preferred or emergency supply lists in favour of an automated system, which call out in a rotational, alphabetical or qualifications-based order. The following school boards have confirmed they do not offer internal preferred lists:

  • Limestone District School Board
  • Durham Catholic District School Board
  • Greater Essex County District School Board
  • Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board
  • Simcoe County District School Board
  • Bluewater District School Board
  • Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board

In York Region District School Board and in Peel District School Board, the number of teaching staff at each school determines the percentage of OTs listed – 15% of elementary staff and 10% of secondary staff can be placed on the preferred list. The school must submit the names of these preferred OTs to the board office, who are then given priority in the call out system. If you are successful in gaining access to these preferred lists, you are, however, limited to 2 schools, and will be removed if offered an LTO or permanent position.

In the District School Board of Niagara, school administrators may input jobs though the SEMS system directly to the preferred OT. Unlike YRDSB, there is no formal application process, rather it occurs through word of mouth.

While Avon-Maitland District School Board discourages the use of preferred lists given it can “tie up” the call out system, principals are entitled to setting up their own independent of the HR system.

In Wellington Catholic District School Board, while teachers may not request OTs, both school administrators and the secretaries may request a supply teacher. However, the board operates a fair call out procedure in that if one OT receives more calls than others, it can be limited. Similar to WCDSB, teachers and administrators in the Trillium Lakeheads District School Board can place [up to three] requests for specific OTs. However, if they are unavailable, the call is rerouted to the dispatcher, as opposed to an automated call out system.

The Waterloo District School Board and Halton District School Board make allowances for preferred lists, based on the recommendations of permanent teachers.

The question then remains, how do I get on to a preferred list?

Avengers by Dunechaser, flickrCC.net

photo by: Dunechaser, flickrCC.net

  • Make yourself known when you are in the school – introduce yourself to the staff and administrators! Lend a hand wherever needed. Socialize in the staff room. Leave contact information!
  • Carefully FOLLOW the lesson plans left by the permanent teacher!
  • DO leave a note or send an informative email to follow up after the day. DON’T leave a novel!
  • Ask about preferred lists and the procedures. Upon request, send your resume to the school administrator and show your interest in returning to their school!
  • Be sincere in all intentions – the school secretary and administrators do not wish to be bribed with chocolates, cards, and candies!

Are you on a preferred list? If so, what was your experience – please share! Regardless, I would love to hear your thoughts on preferred lists. Let’s help to minimize these misconceptions and educate one another in our journeys as “rookie teachers”!

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A Rookie Introduction: Our Newest Contributor…Sarah Lowes 2

Posted on November 09, 2011 by Sarah
Sarah Lowes - Picture

photo: Mlle Lowes

Hey friends! How are you? My name is Sarah Lowes, but some may know me around Halton as Mlle Lowes as I’ve recently been hired on the French Occasional Teacher list. My more time consuming current life adventure is completing a Masters in Education at OISE. Having round table discussions with professors, researchers and doctorate students in Toronto is always offering new perspectives to keep me sharp. I hope to share some of my learning experiences with you! Check out my twitter chatter at @sarlowes!

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