How to win your first teaching contract:
So, you’ve been relief teaching for a little while, and you’ve decided that you want to settle down. You want the predictability that comes with seeing the same students every day, you want to get to know them properly and watch them learn and grow over the course of the year. What you want is a teaching contract.
First up, do you want a teaching contract?
The first thing to consider when you decide to start aiming for a contract is whether you actually want one. Relief teaching has its downsides – the unpredictability of when you’ll book your next day, the students deliberately trying to get on your nerves, and the long days taking everyone’s yard duties. But there are some perks to it as well.
For instance, as a relief teacher, I never needed to take my work home with me. I found immense gratitude at the end of a hard day when I knew that I never had to see that class again if I didn’t want to! Relief teaching is also flexible enough to fit almost any lifestyle, so seriously think about whether a contract is a thing you want or if you think you need to rush to achieve what most people expect out of a teaching career.
Make sure you’re visible.
Getting your first contract is all about impressing people. You want to make sure that while you are relief teaching, you do the absolute best job that you can, but also do it in a way that gets noticed. If you dealt with a fight between two students at recess or lunch, have a quick chat with the next teacher to take duty to warn them that this incident occurred, this is how you dealt with it, and it seems to be better but keep an eye on it. Actions like this not only let people know what a good job you’re doing, but also demonstrate that you’re part of the team.
Write comprehensive notes about how the day went to the teacher you are covering and include the difficult parts of your day, and how you dealt with them. If you have a free lesson during the day, duck down to the library and be seen helping students with their studies or just chatting with them. Making yourself useful is the best thing you can do, but make sure that it is useful and make sure that it’s visible.
I remember the best opportunity that I got as a relief teacher was when I sent a student to the reflection room for spitting flavoured milk on another student in class. The Deputy Principal came to find me after school saying that this student’s dad was here to pick him up, and would I mind coming to join in on the conversation.
Having the Deputy watch me speak to this parent about his child’s behaviour was one of the key things that put me at the top of the list for the next contract to be offered at that school. In this situation, I said yes. I didn’t say yes to more work or staying back too late or taking an extra yard duty, I said yes to something that was definitely scary, but something that really showcased my skills and capabilities beyond what is expected of a relief teacher.
Find the balance.
I don’t believe that you need to go overboard and burn yourself out doing everything you can to impress a school. I never returned and volunteered at any school when I wasn’t being paid for it, but I made good use of the opportunities I was given. Make sure that you talk to people, and tell them what you’re doing. Build relationships at lunch in the staffroom, but the best bang for your buck will be to be seen as a part of the team by working with people, not just chatting to them.
Do things that are a little scary and a little out of your comfort zone; things that you’d never done before. It is these things that people will notice and appreciate and put you at the top of the list for the next full time position.
Do you want a teaching contract? Do you have any other tips you would add to this list? Comment below!