Having left fulltime service (teaching) with the department and moving to a new area, I wondered if I would find being a Casual Relief Teacher (CRT) satisfying. I have the energy, passion and drive but was initially concerned about being a CRT. My concern arose from joining a number of CRT forums and reading numerous and I mean numerous posts from dissatisfied and disheartened teachers.
I’m one of the fortunate ones because I’ve found being a CRT far better than the reviews. The role is certainly different. CRTs develop a new range of skills… and just maybe, all teachers would benefit from spending time in this role.
I don’t have permission to name schools I’ve worked at here, so I won’t. Having said that, my writing is always about the positive influences of schools, programs, teacher learning and student learning. Not being with the department has enabled me to work in different education systems within my home state Victoria. I’ve been able to experience working in specialist school settings, state schools, private system and even delivered some presentations.
There are a number of challenges faced as a CRT and I’ll give my honest assessment of these challenges here! This is not about positives and negatives, just challenges.
Finding a school which you love working in is a priority. Having a school where you can build relationships with teachers, students, parents and administration staff helps give that continuity most of us want. Getting to know a school, its routines, programs, who to speak to and its teaching philosophy takes away that ‘unknown’ at the beginning of the day. Equally, if that school shares your philosophy of teaching and learning then you’ll be happiest in that setting.
The trade-off… and it’s real! Your availability to other schools is minimised and schools will stop ringing. It’s not personal!
Availability is a huge factor…even at your regular schools. Once again, it’s not personal! If you are constantly unavailable, they will stop ringing. Schools also have to share employment days around so they keep a bank of CRTs.
Colleagues will make judgements about you, your teaching and student management. So prepare to be assessed! Once again, don’t take this personally. You will have fantastic days, good days and not so good days.
There are amazing educators who really do support you as a CRT. Tip: If you are unsure of something… don’t ask the same person twice. Spread your questions around, and I do have a sense of humour. Also, some teachers are struggling themselves, so it’s best to ask the person in the room next door to them. BUT… remember, there is no such thing as a ‘dumb’ question! So ask away!
When you teach a group of students, be prepared to be tested. It’s not personal and most CRTs experience this. As a CRT, you don’t know the students like their teacher does! Schools do leave notes and these are very helpful, but even with this knowledge things don’t always go to plan.
Flexibility is definitely something to pack each day. As many new teachers are about to become CRTs, I’ll keep adding here. I’ve also had some excellent material shared with me which I’ll share in the next post.