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Saturday, June 16, 2012

10 Minutes in the Life of a Supply Teacher - the Electronic Register

I seem to have started following a lot of teacher bloggers lately, without realising they're teachers. I've found them through craft, home and family blogs. Anyway, this has made me think that I really should blog more about my life as a teacher. Some of you will understand exactly where I'm coming from, others may have had no idea what we teachers have to endure! And a few of you may just laugh a little, or a lot. With me or at me, I don't know.

I first encountered electronic registers about 4 years ago when I started supply teaching. Now, I'm all for modern technology in the classroom, but for the kids, not for the teachers. What benefit electronic registers have, I don't know.

 I got married the day after completing my first year teaching. We went to Australia on honeymoon. The pic above is Cape Tribulation. 

At around 8.45am the Head will tell me sternly there's an assembly at 9 sharp. "Don't be late," they say as they walk away. Great, I think. 10 minutes to get 30 children in class, shoes changed, sat down, the dreaded register taken, lined up (quietly) and into assembly.

So... bearing in mind, this could be children I've never met before in a school I've never set foot in before, I usher them all inside. Sometimes kids come into class by themselves from about 8.40, as they arrive at school. This is very different to schools in London, where they all line up outside, the bell goes and you go and collect them. Schools in London also tend to start at about 9 o'clock, 10 minutes later than schools in Hertfordshire. Another difference is that kids here have to change from their school shoes into their plimsolls. London kids just traipse in with dirt and maybe a bit of dog poo, which then goes all over the carpet. Better that they change I guess, it's just another thing to do in those precious 10 minutes.

This is how I feel sometimes! Taken in Iceland. I decided on holiday here that I wanted to become a teacher. I'd previously thought about it in Sri Lanka but never went ahead... Travel always makes me want to do new things!
 Anyway, once I've finally got them all sitting down, I turn to the computer screen. This in itself isn't good as you can't see the children. I then realise I don't know the password, so have to send for help. Often there's a wonderful TA who knows useful things like passwords. So, once I'm 'in', I start calling the register. With paper registers, I simply say, "Alfie", glance up, see Alfie waving at me (or maybe it's Ryan playing tricks) and put a red mark next to his name. Nowadays, I have to turn around, look (I know, I know, this doesn't sound like a big deal, but remember - 10 minutes!), look back at the screen and try to remember which button I'm meant to press.

So, once I've got through all the names, I then have to take the dinner register. This used to be a simple process: school dinners, packed lunch or home. There were never very many of the latter. Now... Oh boy, now, I have to find the shiny printed menu (usually stuck on the wall, but not always). Then I have to work out what week it is. There's a little calendar at the bottom, but that requires me having to know the date. The date? Seriously?? I haven't even thought about the date at this point in the day. Sometimes the kids will know what week it is. Children can be amazingly helpful. They don't usually trick me here, although I suppose it would be their loss really.

 Taken in Bruges during a much-needed Easter trip in my PGCE (teacher training) year.
Right, so it's week 2. Now, listen carefully. There are 3 options. You can have the red option - roast gammon, the green (vegetarian) option - vegetable bolognese. And apple crumble and custard afterwards for both, or the yellow option (a school packed lunch) - tuna roll followed by strawberry yoghurt. Finally, you can have your own packed lunch or you can go home. Now, I'm 100% behind Jamie Oliver and his Healthy Schools campaign, but having such a varied choice just prolongs the electronic register agony.

So I have to read out the menu and start the register again. I hope that I will remember the children who are absent, so I don't waste precious seconds calling their name, looking for them and finally asking the class if they're here or not. And again, I have to remember which buttons relate to which option.

This is Hayes Hill Farm in Essex. Nothing to do with teaching here, but I'm including calming photos in this post. These are the images I must have in my mind in order to stay sane!!

Finally! The register is done. "Quickly children," I say, hoping to appear calm, but really thinking, oh boy, we're going to be so late! "Line up quickly and quietly ready for assembly."

We run walk (sorry, no running in the corridor) to the hall and I breathe a sigh of relief as I discover we're not actually the last class to arrive. I get the children sat in neat rows and then sink into a chair, most happy that someone else can take over for the next 10 minutes or so. Hang on... did I press save and send...? Aaargh!

And the day has barely begun...

Click here for a previous post on the funny things kids say.


  1. Hi Vic!
    Thank you for stopping by my blog, commenting and following!! I'm so glad to find other UK bloggers as we prepare to move to England the first of the year!
    Have a great week!!

  2. Hey, thanks for following back:) I look forward to reading about your move - exciting times! Vic:)


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