How to leave your teaching job: my resignation letter.

It’s been a term of supply and a term since leaving teaching and I’ve come to the conclusion that it was the right choice for me, I don’t know if it was the right choice for my old class, I do hope that they are getting on well.  They are, for the most part, a lovely bunch of children.

Bay Bridge Fire by Phil King https://www.flickr.com/photos/pkingdesign/3954049381
Bay Bridge Fire by Phil King
https://www.flickr.com/photos/pkingdesign/3954049381

When I began teaching, I said to myself that I wouldn’t leave midway though the year but that’s exactly what ended up happening. As mentioned before, the reasons are many but what I found very hard was finding the right way to resign. I wanted out but I didn’t want to burn any bridges. Unlike one of my similarly departing colleagues (who had another teaching position and consequently really didn’t give a monkeys about the school in the last few weeks), I didn’t feel like teaching ever again. I needed to leave on a good note, with justifiable reasoning for – what felt like – deserting the class and the school. I needed to explain my position clearly and ensure that the school knew I was grateful for the time and energy they had spent on me. I suppose, my resignation letter was really the first 1ofthe40percent blogpost.

I present it to you (with a few minor edits to protect the guilty).

Dear ———-,

It with regret that I am offering my resignation from the position of —- – teacher, effective from the end of next half term. While I am very grateful for all of the support that ———- has given me since September, I feel that I am not the teacher that ———- requires at this time.

I know that I do not have the physical and personal energy to dedicate the amount of time to become a good or outstanding teacher and also remain happy, healthy and a good father to my children.  When I spend most evenings and weekends working on the week’s planning and resourcing, implementing advice and trying to incorporate ideas from good practice that I have observed to deliver lessons that I feel are good and have produced good work, yet still continually attain a level of requiring improvement, I know that I do not have a thick enough skin to take this on board and continually move forward.  It is for this reason that I feel it is best for me to take stock and consider if teaching is what I really wish to do.

I love teaching children and helping them learn.  As has been continually recognised since I trained, I build excellent relationships with children, can motivate and make them proud of their achievements but, sadly, I don’t not feel this is enough for what, in the current education climate, a teacher needs to be.  I cannot, at present, dedicate the full level of attention to all the roles that the position of teacher requires and I feel that my skills may be best served in more of a supportive role or another sector entirely.

I understand that this far from the ideal outcome for anyone, least of all —- -, who I have really enjoyed teaching and continue to make me proud, but in the long run I know it is in their best interests that they are not taught by a teacher who, at present, is not happy and unable to provide them with the best education possible.

I thank you for your support to date, which has been 100% more helpful in developing my teaching practise than my previous school and I feel that I am a better teacher as a result but I know this is the best course of action at present.  I hope that you can appreciate my candour and understand that, although it may not be ideal in the immediate, it is for the best in the long term.

Yours sincerely,

1ofthe40percent

To be honest, it’s a piece of writing that I’m quite proud of.  Concise, emotive and honest.

Did I get the tone right?  Was I candid enough?  Leave any thoughts in the comments, if you feel that way inclined.

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A good day’s supply: only one child ended up with blood dripping down his face.

When I started teaching, if someone asked me how the day was I would reply that it was good because I ended the day with the same number children I started with. On Thursday, one of the kids in my care ended the day with slightly less blood that he began with. It’s the sort of thing that you worry about as a teacher, and to a degree, even more as a supply. You’re only in class for a day and your reputation and future employability is largely judged upon that day.

A surefire way to get outstanding from OFSTED.

So, I’m being melodramatic about the blood. All that happened was a child fell over in PE and banged his nose on a basket but when he looked up at me blood from his nose dripped onto my arm. My immediate reaction was to calm the child down, get the other children away and send for another adult. It all went smoothly, it was dealt with professionally and the child was fine but in the back of my mind I was thinking that a child in my care has ended up with blood dripping down their face: the parents will kick off, the school won’t want me back, the supply agency will drop me from their books…

…as it was, at the start of the Easter holidays, the parents were cool, the school didn’t say anything and I’m still on the agency’s books.

I’ve done the right thing.

There is a school I’ve supplied at a few times over the past few weeks that has just confirmed to me that leaving teaching as soon as was logistically possible was, if not the wisest idea, definitely the right one.

Last week, having finished for the day, I walked past the staff room to see all the teaching staff sitting, stony faced in silence, doing what looked like a cross-phase book scrutiny (looking at other classes’ books, in lay terms). It the sort of thing you have to do as a teacher as it is one of the ‘things-you-do-as-a-teacher’. I partook in a few book scrutinies but all they ever did was make me feel crap that in comparison to what the kids in other classes were achieving (mostly due to me being too hard on myself) and use up time when I could have been prepping or marking or getting on with all the other jobs a teacher is loaded down with.

"This staff meeting will invigorate your teaching and ensure your class are engaged all day.  It is about APS points and differential progress." Bored by Jason Scragz https://www.flickr.com/photos/scragz/91147636
“This staff meeting will invigorate your teaching and ensure your class are engaged all day. It is about every teacher marking in green ink.”
Bored by Jason Scragz
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scragz/91147636

I don’t think it ever really helped me or improved my teaching practise. Add to that all the pointless staff meetings I attended in my time, just because it was staff meeting day not because there was anything valuable to do, and I’m sure I’ve spent days of my life in a room full of people who would much rather be somewhere else, with anyone else.

At the end of today, the class teacher and her TA were having a salacious gossip about their colleagues’ various personality conflicts, teaching approaches as well as griping about all the other staff that are fleeing the school in droves (mainly because of work/life balance) and how it might affect the impending OFSTED inspection.

"You'll never guess what I heard about Miss Williams in Y3..." Gossip by Jürgen https://www.flickr.com/photos/guerito/244632521
“You’ll never guess what I heard about Miss Williams in Y3…”

Gossip by Jürgen
https://www.flickr.com/photos/guerito/244632521

While we all love a good gossip (and it was certainly entertaining to have an academic eavesdrop) it just made me think that it is nice to be largely free of all the internal politics and the possibility of people slating your work behind your back (which, to be fair, you can get in any job). The cream was thinking also that I shouldn’t have to experience OFSTED to any great degree anytime soon.

Today, the teaching was a challenge but when you remember all the other crap that teachers trudge through, it puts that one day in perspective.

Resource of the Day: Directional Language Grids

One of the things that took up so much of my time when I was teaching full time was making all my resources. There are, of course, 100s of relevant existing resources online you can use but somehow it always seemed simpler to make my own instead of spending ages looking all around the internet for what I needed.

With not much more use for them anymore, I thought I might as well make the available for anyone – who knows, it might save someone a couple of minutes searching one day.

You can find my TES resources page here and you’ll find direct links to all of my uploaded resources at https://1ofthe40percent.wordpress.com/resources/

Even though it’s called ‘Resource of the Day’ a better title might be ‘Resource of Today’ as there is no chance that there will be new things every day. Every week will be pushing it. Every so often might be about right.

Directional Language Grids

Direction grids screenshot

Today’s resources  support learning the directional language up, down, left and right. Draw and write the directions for the knight to reach the king. The pack features three levelled worksheets (with three different maps within each level) and there is a Smart Board for demonstrating the activity.

During the lesson, you would be advised to give the kids counters or something to help them keep track of the knight’s movements.

I hope that it of some use and look out for more resources in the future.

Nomadic teaching: Five bad things about supply.

Having published Five good things about supply teaching, here is the flip side of that coin…Five bad…well, actually, lets not be negative now, instead of saying ‘five bad things about supply teaching’, let’s use teacher parlance and call it ‘Five areas for development for supply teaching.’

1. Uncertainty.

The flip side of the flexibility is uncertainty. While you might get a guaranteed hours agreement, which means you’ll get paid whether or not you work, you may find yourself getting up and ready by 7:30am only to have to wait…and wait…and wait for the phone call…that doesn’t come. An impromptu day off sounds great but if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.

This picture came up when I put ‘uncertain’ in Google Image Search. I don’t know what it means.
http://tinyurl.com/nsgbo79

Even if you do know that you will be working, it doesn’t mean that you know where, what class, or even if the school is expecting you to turn up.This week, I arrived at my booked school and they really had no idea that I was coming. I crossed my fingers that they’d tell me to go home (I would have still got paid as the agency had booked me) but the school did eventually find a class for me to teach for the day.  Better luck next time.

2. No security.

You might as well use this to keep your supply job safe.  Do you see what I did there? https://www.flickr.com/photos/fristle/3020393537
You might as well use this to keep your supply job safe. Do you see what I did there?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/fristle/3020393537

Without a contract, a school can ask you to leave whenever they want. It wasn’t day-to-day but in a previous school several supply teachers, who were expecting to stay until July, were given a couple of days notice to leave. Similarly, an agency has no real need to get you work. If they decide not to, they can blackball you.

3. Supply agencies.

It's a square peg into a round hole.  Do you see? 146/365 square peg into a round hole by  rosipaw
It’s a square peg into a round hole. Do you see?

146/365 square peg into a round hole by rosipaw

I have heard supply agents described as the used car salesmen of teaching. While I’m not going to complain too much, lest they ever read this, there is an element of truth in that statement. They need to fill a post and will often fudge the truth to get it filled.

‘You ended up in nursery all day? The school promised me that you would be teaching GCSE Biology. How strange! I…er…don’t know how that happened.”

(that’s not a real quote, by the way)

And however much you get paid, it will be significantly less than what the agency is charging the school.There used to be far more LEA supply pools, cutting out the middle-man, but you’ll find that their number is dwindling.  If you want supply work, you’re pretty much going to have to go via an agency. But whatever you do, don’t go with an umbrella organisation.

They market themselves as saving you money by deducting expenses from your taxable pay but then charge you a random weekly price for doing so. My agency once forgot to process my timesheet so it had to be processed the following week. The umbrella organisation then charged me £8 (almost an hour’s work) for the privilege of someone else making a mistake.

4. The kids don’t care who you are.

For most of the kids, they don’t know you, don’t care who you are, and know you’ll be gone at the end of the day. With that in mind, they know that there is very little consequence to their actions and that you’ll probably be gone by the next morning. So there is more in it for them to impress their friends with silliness than you by making good behaviour choices. And if they keep testing and testing you and you end up having to raise your voice? Brilliant! They’ve got a great reaction from the random person in their class today.

“Ah, two of our nicest children that you will be teaching today.
Don’t worry, they are such a lovely class that you’ll want to say forever.”

Behaviour management is probably the most challenging aspect of supply teaching.

5. You are the bottom of the slush pile.

In addition to the kids not really giving a donkey’s about who you are, often the school doesn’t either. While I’ve been to some great schools, with thorough planning and helpful staff, I’ve been to others where they’re not expecting you, don’t have planning or anything prepared. Staff often won’t acknowledge you or know the answers to your questions. I’ve even went to one school where they seemed annoyed that I’d turned up. Sorry, you’re the people that asked me to come! Without the safety net of regular colleagues it can be a lonely experience being a supply teacher.

A supply teacher enjoying a moment with all of his regular work colleagues, yesterday.
A supply teacher enjoying a moment with all of his regular work colleagues, yesterday.

So, there are plusses and minuses to supplying. At the moment, for me, it is a fine balance but if you’re thinking of going down a similar route as I have, consider the points above and yesterday, very carefully.

Nomadic teaching: Five good things about supply.

So, firmly back as one of the nomads of teaching, wondering, stateless, from school to school as a supply teacher, I present to you, five good things about supply teaching.

Hello.  I was told I'm teaching in Miss Williams' class today. Nomad with camel by Charles Roffey
“Hello. I was told I’m teaching in Miss Williams’ class today.”
Nomad with camel by Charles Roffey

1. Flexibility

You’re not stuck in one place. If you like, you can often pick the number of and which days you work. If you hate a class you don’t have to go back. If you get on with a class, they will often request you return. You’re not locked into a contract with a particular school, which offers you a lot of freedom. I am loving my three days teaching/two days parenting balance.

2. You can leave a school you don’t like.

As mentioned above, if you hate a school, for whatever reason, you don’t have to return. I once decided to not go back to a school because I got a parking ticket that day.

Perfectly acceptable reason not to return to a school. Charleston parking ticket by Charleston's TheDigitel
Perfectly acceptable justification for not to returning to a school.
Charleston parking ticket by Charleston’s TheDigitel

3. None of the rubbish that comes with being a teacher.

This week has been a revelation. While I’ve popped in and out of schools, I’ve seen teachers stressing about parents’ evenings, planning and one ranting about how he had to spend six hours on Sunday compiling half a term’s worth of attendance data. This is all the crap that only has a little to do with teaching but everything to do with being a teacher. I have loved leaving all that at those schools.

Change is good. loose change by ambert
Change is good.
loose change by ambert

4. You get to experience different settings.

If you’re interested in how different schools operate, day-to-day supply is brilliant. You get to see how so many different schools and key stages function. You get to see how days are organised, behaviour management systems, class routines, expectations of working, displays, approaches to teaching: so many different and complementary aspects of learning. The constant change can be stressful but at least it’s different.

5. It can lead to a job…if you want.

Supply was how I get my first permanent job. I made a good impression, was asked to return a number of times, a position became available and it was offered to me (no interview or trial lesson required – bonus)! If you want it, often something will come up.

To keep it fair, tomorrow will follow with…five bad things about supply.