As a supply teacher I expect to encounter poor behaviour. It’s usually regarded as one of the downsides of the job, pupils will take advantage of the fact that the supply teacher doesn’t know their names, and possibly isn’t very knowledgeable about the schools behaviour and sanctions policy.
I accept this, and, up to a certain point, I don’t have a problem with it – I remember ‘acting up’ when I was at school and we had supply in. I can hardly complain when a pupil does very little work, knowing that at one time, I probably did the same.
So today I wasn’t expecting much, having been told I would be covering two subjects, one of which I know very little about. Due to an anomaly with the school’s timetable, that translated into six lessons, but only two classes. I was prepared to be greeted with the usual ‘oh not you again’, but, remarkably it didn’t happen.
Instead, I had six good lessons, six instances of hard-working pupils, and six chances to complete the set lesson plan. There was one boy who kept talking at first, but when I threatened to report his poor behaviour, he sat down and started working quietly.
As I moved around the school the pupils were courteous, held doors open and held back some of their classmates who tried to push their way through. It was all a little surreal, and had echoes of Stepford. I enjoyed the day, but left feeling frankly, well, baffled.
On the drive home however, I thought through this in more detail – I was effectively complaining that the children had behaved too well. I found it odd that they were polite, well-mannered, that they didn’t argue, and that they completed the set work. I found it strange they did all the things one would expect, without long, protracted arguments.
I realised I’ve become so accustomed to poor behaviour that I’m wary of good behaviour. Personally, I find that worrying. Surely the norm should be for the good, rather than the bad?
As it is, I arrived home with a smile on my face. I’d had a good day, and, more importantly, I’d had the opportunity to rediscover how much I enjoy teaching. Pure teaching, without the usual crowd-control.
I hope I have many more days like this.