CRT · Teaching

Day in the life of a CRT (Casual Relief Teacher)

It’s 7am. I’ve been up for an hour. All I want to do is crawl back into my warm, cozy bed and snuggle up to The Lovely Boyfriend. Alas, I also need money and want to work today. So I’m up, willing my phone to ring.

6 – 6:15am: Get up. Look forward to later in the year when it won’t be dark when you get up. Trip over the cat. Shower.

6:30am: Click “I am up and ready and Available to work today” on Agency website.

6:31am: Stare at phone. Nothing.

6:32am: Coffee. Is there a hint of colour in the morning sky? No. Still pitch black out there.

6:45am: Coffee is gone. Check phone to make sure haven’t missed a call even though it’s on the loudest setting. Nothing.

From here the morning can go two ways:

  • Keep staring at silent phone. It gets to 8:30am or later and you finally concede that it’s probably not going to ring. Crawl back into bed and tell yourself you didn’t want to work today anyway, and sleep is much better than money.
  • It rings! Almost drop phone in eagerness to answer.

Ideally they Agency has called before 7:30am, and the school is no further than a 30 minute drive, so you have a little bit of time to finish getting ready and mentally prepare yourself, and look at the map.

On bad days you get a call after 8:30am, to a school that’s 35 mins away and they want you there before 9am, and you’d given up for the day and just put you pajama’s back on. Mad scramble to get out the door, get there ten mins late and have a class period 1.

Even though I am a trained high school English and History teacher, as a CRT you can get given anything. They usually try to give you at least one of your subjects, but so far this year I have taught:

  • English
  • History
  • Health & Human Development
  • FRENCH (My French ability doesn’t go past greetings, swearing and counting)
  • Psychology
  • Life Skills
  • Humanities
  • Geography
  • Maths
  • Textiles
  • Grade 3 Writing
  • Grade 4 Art

I’m sure that list will only grow over the coming months. Teaching primary school kids was WEIRD!

Some school’s have good, organised set-ups for their CRTs. You get given a computer that has all the lesson details, internet accessible, and class lists with helpful photos attached. I like working at those schools.

Others aren’t quite so on the ball. One school I’ve worked at a few times is so unorganised. I get given nothing, and have to spend a good 15 minutes chasing up people, getting constantly deflected to different people, to see what work has been left. And no class lists. It definitely makes it a lot easier to run and keep a class in some sort of order when you know the students’ names! “Hey, you over there, stop that!” just doesn’t quite cut it with most kids.

CRT work is definitely interesting. Some days are better than others. Sometimes, you have a good lesson, are actually able to teach something and have respectful kids. Other days you feel more like a glorified babysitter in charge of the circus.

For me, working as a CRT has definitely helped me harden my skin, and improved my behaviour management strategies. But it’s also made me a bit jaded and cynical. There’s no follow-through or follow-up.

I don’t want to be a CRT for more than this year. Next year, I either want to have a permanent job, or to be making most of my money from my fiction and just CRT every now and then for some pocket money.

The benefits of CRTing are that you don’t need to deal with all the paper-work and planning side of teaching. You’re in 20-30 minutes before classes start, you’re out as soon as the day finishes. No meetings. No reports. No planning. No dealing with parents. If a student is a complete terror, then you get to walk away at the end of the lesson and maybe never see them again. That part of it is pretty stress-free.

But you don’t get to know the kids. You don’t get to teach what you want to teach. Part of what I love about history teaching, is designing the program. There’s none of that. And the main thing I love about teaching is getting to know your students, seeing them learn and thrive. Even if they have a bratty day, you see them the next day and they have a good day. You don’t get that with casual work.

And there’s no stability. You don’t know when you’re going to work, and hence don’t know how much money you’re going to make. No holiday pay (that’s 12 weeks of the year where you can’t work at all). If you get sick, you can’t work. No pay.

It’s flexible though. If I have something else on, it’s easy to say no I’m not available today. I wouldn’t be able to survive on this on my own though. At the moment, my CRT work is supplementary income for us.


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