Local Legends – Relief Teacher Coordinators Across SCEA Schools

In our first instalment of ‘Local Legends’, we ventured to a number of SCEA schools to find those crucial staffers who regularly find replacement staff when ‘COVID leave’, the flu season and the other interruptions arise which can disrupt the normal flow of teaching within our schools.

In years gone by, teachers who were unable to come to school and teach would need to ring a certain number and leave a raspy message on an answering machine. At 6.00 am the next morning, the Relief Coordinator would listen to the machine’s message recorded overnight and sigh at the number of replacement teachers needed to be sought for the day’s classes.

In today’s modern age, it tends to be a late-night email or a Teams message – arguably more intrusive to a Relief Coordinator’s personal life!

When presented with the opportunity to be showcased in SCEA News, these fabulous staffers inevitably gave similar responses across the schools: “It’s a team effort! Everyone helps me! Put the camera away!”

So we talked to their colleagues.

What sorts of tasks do these fabulous people do that is above and beyond their calling?

The answers:
• Answered emails on the weekends, late at night and early mornings
• Sending COVID updates on weekends, late at night and early mornings
• Contact tracing on weekends, late at night and early mornings
• Had to field the never-ending questions from parents and deal with both parent and staff frustrations
• Follow up with all absentees to ensure all COVID requirements were covered
• COVID reporting to AISWA and the Government
• Look after students with COVID until parents were able to collect them from school

Wow! And that’s just the start…

Then we asked the Coordinators across the schools about the traits required to become a great Relief Coordinator. These answers revealed a little more about this job and why it is not the most sought-after role in the schooling environment!

Serina Ashe (Swan Christian College):
Understanding, assertive, personable and a good problem solver. Knowing how to deal with grumpy teachers and having access to coffee is also a must.
Basically, you need the patience of a saint, the toughness of Teflon and the self-confidence of Iron Man.

Brendon Barker (Mundaring Christian College):
Someone who shows empathy for staff and has a good idea of what is happening around the school. They can then anticipate when Relief staff are going to be needed. They need to be able to think logically but also creatively. Sometimes they need to come up with a solution that’s ‘outside the box’.

Stefan Grove (Ellenbrook Christian College):
I believe a good Relief Coordinator is someone with the ability to adapt to changes very quickly. It requires someone with a lot of patience and the ability to stay calm when plans change at the last minute or during the day. This year it has been important to be proactive and have multiple plans in place so that you know what to do when you get a last-minute COVID positive test or if someone is considered a close COVID contact. It is also very important to look after the wellbeing of your staff when using internal cover so that they are not burnt out!

Clare Midgley (Beechboro Christian School):

An early riser!! As well as having good relationships with relief teachers, you need to be aware of timetabling and be able to create flexible, and sometimes creative, timetabling solutions, empathetic to those who are unwell and can’t work.

Antoinette Wilson (Mundaring Christian College):

A good relief coordinator does the job as part of a pastoral care calling – to serve and care for their co-workers in a time of need. Not only to provide a relief teacher but to be one of the first people to connect with the person phoning to listen to their problem – be it health, grief or loss.

I think you’re starting to get the message.

It’s a difficult role, and that’s before you factor in COVID and the complications that it has brought to our schools.

Below is a little pictorial display that showcases these ‘local legends’ across our schools. See if you can find your SCEA staff member for your school and give them a kind word, a high-five or ‘fist-bump’ today! Our schools flourish because these quiet achievers enable our students to enjoy a Christian education without interruption.

Thank you Relief Coordinators!

Click on the image to see a larger version of these ‘Local Legends’.

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