3 May 2017

A Day In The Life Of A Relief Teacher

Relief teaching in a year 5 & 6 class (9 and 10 year olds) today had a few challenges. Like most classes, there were some ‘tricky’ kids who decided to test the boundaries. At times their behavior was disrespectful and unco-operative. But behind their bravado I sensed there was anger and sadness.
Being a reliever and not knowing their backgrounds I presumed there would be a story - a reason why they were acting out.
Once the class was engaged in activities, I quietly crouched beside each of the ‘tricky’ children and had a conversation with them.

Here’s how it went.
Child 1 had talked continuously while I was addressing the class. Even when asked to listen she ignored me and continued talking.
Me: Why don’t you try to listen when someone is speaking? It’s respectful to listen.
Child: I don’t care.
Me: It’s important to learn respect. We all have to show respect, even adults have to.
Child: So.
Me: When you get older if you’re not respectful towards your boss you could lose your job.
Child: I don’t need a job.
Me: Yes you do. You need a job to get money to pay for things.
Child: No I don’t. Mum and Dad will buy me things.
Me: They won’t always buy you things, not when you’re an adult. You’ll need to have money to pay for your own things. That’s why you’ll need a job.
Child: Nah, I don’t need a job…I’ll just go to WINZ!

How does a nine year old even know about WINZ?

Child 2 looked angry. His face was scrunched in a scowl and he was deliberately provoking his peers. I asked him to find another place to sit to do his work and told him I’d come and help him. He did as I asked while showing as much disgust as he could.
Me: Why are you feeling so unhappy?
Child 2: I’m tired. I didn’t get much sleep and I didn’t have any breakfast because there was no food in the house. We had to go to Countdown before school.
Me: That would make me unhappy too.
Child 2: I hate school.
Me: Let me help you with your activity, we’ll do it together.
He agreed and I sat beside him and we continued to chat.
Me: How were your holidays?
Child 2: I saw Mum in the holidays. I wish I lived with her.
Me: I bet you do. Who do you live with now?
Child 2: My Nana, my Dad and my Uncle. My dad says I’m the devil’s child.
Me: I don’t think you are at all. If I had my own class, I would love to teach you. I think you’re an awesome kid.
Child 2: No you wouldn’t. I’m evil. I’m no good.
Me: Honestly, you’re not evil. There’s something really special and nice about you.

No wonder this child’s so angry. He’s 10 years old and believes he’s evil. It’s understandable that he’s annoyed with life.


  1. Oh, so sad... parents' words have so much impact. But then, so do teachers, Katrina. You speak positive and life into them. They'll never forget.

  2. Hi Katrina. I don't know if you remember me. Our paths (briefly) passed when you left Westmount school. Unbeknownst to you, they've passed again more recently. You relieved in my (now) class but before I took them on mid last year. I'm slightly envious of the wonderful travels you are having!! All the best :) Rachel


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