It is now harder than ever to get a contract for the Ottawa Carleton District School Board. It is an immensely competitive job market and a long, long, looooong wait. Here are some tips and advice I wish someone had told me when I got on the Occasional Teachers List.
During teachers college, I was told it would take 5 to 8 years to get a permanent job in the OCDSB. I was told this again and again, and I understood it. You don’t know how long 5 years can feel until you have been waiting for a job all that time. My advice is to use this time to your advantage. Supply for many schools and many teachers. Figure out how you want to teach, and what you definitely do not what to teach like. Use this time to learn from teachers you admire and to gather resources.
When you’re supply teaching, you will have a lot of time on your hands since you won’t work everyday or all day. Use this time to take Additional Qualification (AQ) courses. Yes, they do cost a lot of money, but it’s better to do them now, when you have the time. I focused on getting to the highest pay grid during my time as a supply teacher. This way, whenever I get a job, I’ll be earning the highest amount possible and I won’t have to bother with taking courses when I’m already stressed out with a job. Also, because there are so many qualified teachers, you need to take AQ’s to look more favourably for the job that you want.
Professional Development aka PD is a great free way to learn more about teaching. OCEOTA has specific occasional teaching PD such as “Survive while Smiling.” I would suggest that these are great for your first year supplying. When you become more experienced you will want to learn more. This is when I was thrilled to find out about ePLC. It is the OCDSB workshop registration system. Go to OCDSB.ca, and look in the staff section for ePLC. Click on the link, and make a New User account.
Click on Register for Workshops and then Fetch All Workshops. This will give you a list of all of the workshops happening. Make sure you are allowed to attend. Some workshops will state specifically that they are not for Occasional teachers, but you can always email the person involved and ask to attend. They can only say no!
You can also check out Ontario Teacher Federation PD. They are offering free webinars that are so informative. Check out the PD calendar here.
Twitter is also a great way to get some PD anytime. There is always interesting discussions going on about education. I participate in #ntchat which is a chat for new teachers by Lisa Dabbs (@teachingwthsoul) that happens on Wednesday nights at 8pm. There are also a ton more. To learn more about the twitter chats, click here.
Supply Teaching is a really emotional job. It is like being on a job interview every day for 5-8 years. You constantly are trying your best, being friendly, and balancing a million things. You might work at a school all of the time, and then they stop calling you. You will wonder did I do something wrong, did I offend anyone? My tip is to believe in yourself. You are probably doing a better job than you realize. Smile at everyone, help wherever you can, clean your classroom at the end of the day, and leave a note or email for the teacher to let them know how it went. The truth is that you are going to have hard days, try to keep on focusing on the good ones!
We all get sick. As supply teachers we are covering for sick teachers most of the time. I always felt so much pressure to go into work no matter how I was feeling. My advice is to only call in sick if you are really, really sick and cannot work. Try and give as much notice as you can, and explain that you are really sick and apologize. Most of the time they will be understanding.
Meeting new people and networking is a huge part of being a teacher. I would use BEAM to save contacts you meet. Put their name in your contacts folder with a note of how you met them and their information. This way, you can email them occasionally and keep them up to date with what is happening with you. Twitter is also an amazing way to meet other teachers from around the world or right here in Ottawa!
As teachers we get some perks! Yay perks. With our OCT card we get some freebies and discounts. Check them out here.
Michaels lets us save 15%, you just have to show your OCT card.
Let me know what you thought about this post and if you have any other questions!