Stuck Relief Teaching? How to Enjoy Being a Career Reliever

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I started my career as a relief teacher, as most teachers do. I come from a family of teachers, and I remember my mum telling me that she will never forget the first class that was her own. I didn’t think that I wanted to be relief teaching for very long. I didn’t know anyone who had made it their career, and saw it as a temporary job while I built experience.

Getting in the Relief Teaching Mindset

At the time, though, I was really enjoying relief teaching. I am just the kind of person who really liked being in a different school with different students every day. I was bouncing around between about three different schools and was coming back regularly enough to build friendships with staff and get to really know the students

See more: 4 Ways to Get More Work as a Relief Teacher

I enjoyed the challenge as well. A school in my area is well known to be a challenging school with a severe issue with retaining staff. I’ll never forget the surprised look the daily management organiser gave me when I was smiling at the end of the day and said that I couldn’t wait to be back. Needless to say, I was back many times.

See more: How to Pick a Realistic Side Hustle as a Teacher

Relief teacher smiling while her students work on computers in the background. She clearly enjoys her job relief teaching
Relief teaching can be a difficult but rewarding profession.

There is a bit of a stigma with casual teaching; it is the thing that teachers do when they’re not good enough to get a full-time position. Relief teaching is a valid and admirable job. I’ve noticed that particularly through this pandemic, that is hopefully starting to become more recognised. 

See more: Is Being a Permanent Relief Teacher Worth It?

Choosing to be a relief teacher.

I know several teachers who choose to be relief teachers. All of them are brilliant teachers, and all of them have been offered contracts many times before. One of them is a science specialist and is highly valuable to the one school that she works for, as she is the only relief teacher trained to do practicals in the labs. Suppose a teacher is absent on a day that they planned an experiment. In that case, they will specifically request that she comes in to cover it. She has been offered contracts from this school multiple times but isn’t interested.

The other teacher I know who only does relief work owns multiple businesses and travels to France every few months. She wants to stay in schools as she loves working with kids and finds that relief work fits neatly around everything else in her life. Again, she only works in one school in distance education. She is specifically requested if the teacher knows that flexibility and confidence are required to cover them for the day.

relief teacher sitting at a desk with a student helping them with their work

Don’t get trapped by the full-time hype.

If you’re a good relief teacher, and particularly if you’ve developed your skills in a niche, you can definitely get consistent work. Better yet, you can grow to be picky about what jobs you take. Relief teaching is definitely not something that you need to settle for, and it is a valid career choice in its own right. If you want to spend more time with your family, give more time to your side hustle, or simply duck down to the beach or hike whenever the weather’s nice, it could be the right choice for you.

Elise is an enthusiastic and passionate Australian teacher who is on a mission to inspire and support fellow educators. With over a decade of experience in the classroom, Elise leverages her expertise and creativity to provide valuable insights and resources through her blog. Whether you're looking for innovative lesson ideas, effective teaching strategies, or just a dose of inspiration, Elise has got you covered.

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