Casual Relief Teaching: Pros & Cons for Teachers

Image depicting the pros and cons of casual relief teaching

Considering staring your career as a casual relief teacher or making the switch from your current full time role? It can be a big decision. This role requires you to jump into teaching at a moment's notice, and still deliver a top-quality education. Working as a relief teacher is never dull - you'll encounter a diverse range of students and school environments. However, it's vital to weigh the pros and cons before diving in.

"Acting as a casual relief teacher is like turning into a superhero - you sweep in, assist, and ensure students continue their education even in the absence of their regular teacher. But, remember, superheroes always face challenges."

Let's delve into the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a casual relief teacher. This information will help you in determining whether this career is the perfect fit for you or not.

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Exploring the concept

What is a Casual Relief Teacher?

While the role of a
casual relief teacher (CRT) may seem unconventional compared to that of regular teachers, it is nonetheless an integral part of the educational system. These teachers step in when regular teachers are unable to perform their duties due to illness, personal matters, or professional development opportunities. But, is being a casual relief teacher a good career choice? Let’s delve into the pros and cons to give you a clearer perspective.

The Benefits of Being a Casual Relief Teacher 

There is certainly a good list of pros. For instance, being a casual relief teacher also provides a certain level of flexibility. This is attractive, especially to individuals who thrive in a flexible environment and can allow for prioritising a good work life balance. Because every day brings a new challenge or a different classroom, it allows you to exercise your creative problem-solving skills on a regular basis. It also means that you get to leave a positive impact on a larger number of students during your career since you have the chance to teach at several schools rather than just one. 

A teacher interacting with students in a classroom setting, representing the benefits of being a Casual Relief Teacher.

Another potential benefit of being a CRT is the opportunity for professional development. Some CRT agecnies offer high-quality professional learning opportunities to their relief teachers. Through these programs, CRTs can gain additional skills, build relationships with their peers, and gain insights into the best teaching practices. Participation in such opportunities not only helps enhance teaching skills, but also makes CRTs feel more engaged with the learning community. 

In terms of employment potential, being a CRT is often used as a stepping stone into the teaching profession. Highly skilled and experienced CRTs don’t typically stay in relief positions for long unless they want to remain in that position. They often are given fixed-term contracts and quickly become permanently employed. This competition among schools for top-performing CRTs means that exceptional relief teachers have a higher chance of securing regular employment.

A teacher managing a classroom full of energetic students, representing the challenges of being a Casual Relief Teacher.

Challenges of Being a Casual Relief Teacher

Working as a Casual Relief Teacher (CRT) is both an exciting and challenging experience. The unpredictability of the role means that managing student behaviour can sometimes get tough, especially when students are feeling anxious or rowdy without their usual teacher.

Being a CRT isn’t easy. You need to be flexible, strong, and consistent. One moment you might be teaching a lesson, the next you could be breaking up an argument or offering a listening ear, all while maintaining professionalism. Keeping calm and controlled in a room full of energetic students is part of the job.

You also need to plan for times when schools are closed for holidays or seasonal breaks, during which your teaching services won’t be required. These downtimes mean fewer job opportunities and potentially tight finances, making financial planning and budget management important aspects of being a CRT.  

Even with its challenges, being a casual relief teacher offers many rewards. You’re free to use your teaching strategies, custom-fit your methods for students, and build unique bonds. If you enjoy variety, flexibility, and the exhilaration of teaching in different settings, this could be a fulfilling career choice.

Unraveling the Pros of Being a Casual Relief Teacher


Understanding the benefits of being a casual relief teacher means realising the extent of what this role involves. As a casual relief teacher, your job is much more than just filling in for an absent educator. You play a crucial part in the school’s operation by stepping in during both expected and unexpected short-term teacher absences. This role not only adds value to your work but also leads to one of the major pros: flexibility.


As a casual relief teacher, you often have control over your work schedule. Schools may need your assistance for periods of up to 30 consecutive working days, or maybe just a day or two, offering you the flexibility to maintain a work-life balance.

Potential for Fixed-Term Employment

While it is true that the nature of your job is often short-term, circumstances may arise where your temporary position may extend beyond the initially planned period. Following a prolonged absence of a staff member extending beyond 30 consecutive working days, you may be offered a fixed-term employment, thus providing you with job security for that particular time span.

Earning Income & Gaining Experience

This career path also offers practical classroom experience while still permitting you to earn an income. This opportunity should not be overlooked, as it can be particularly advantageous for graduates who find themselves unable to secure permanent roles right out of school. What’s more, your accumulated experience and practical knowledge can increase your chances of securing a casual teaching job.

Valued Role During the Pandemic

The recent Covid-19 pandemic has indeed highlighted the vital role of casual relief teachers, who were instrumental in ensuring educational continuity in a time of widespread disruption. As a casual relief teacher, you play a crucial role in maintaining the stability and continuity of student learning, no matter the circumstances.

Delving into the Cons of a Relief Teaching Career

Even though there are many benefits, working as a relief teacher also presents some challenges. These challenges can significantly affect your experiences as a relief teacher, so it’s important to consider them when you’re thinking about this career path.

  • One of the top concerns for casual relief teachers is the irregularity of work and income. Being on call means there is no set schedule, leading to times when work is plentiful and times when it’s scarce, depending on the needs of the schools. This uncertainty can lead to financial instability, which may be a significant drawback for some individuals.
  • Another pressing issue is student behaviour, as managing this in the absence of their regular teacher can sometimes be a difficult task. Frequently, casual relief teachers are confronted with issues like student anxiety, rowdiness, or lack of focus, which require skilful management.
  • Furthermore, relief teachers often encounter a lack of continuity in their teaching. This is because they may be called upon to teach different subjects at various year levels on any given day, which can be a challenging task. It also may limit the opportunity for building deeper relationships with students, which is often a rewarding aspect of the teaching profession.
  • Last but not least, despite the significant role casual relief teachers play in education, there is a pervasive stereotype that relief teachers are simply stand-ins or babysitters. This misconception overlooks the dedication, flexibility, and expertise these educators bring to the table in providing high-quality education for students in the absence of their permanent teachers.

In conclusion, while relief teaching presents multiple opportunities, it also comes with its share of challenges. However, these challenges, as steep as they may be, can also contribute to one’s growth as an educator and hone a diverse skillset that can be beneficial in the long run.

Effectively Balancing the Pros and Cons of Relief Teaching



Diving into the life of a Casual Relief Teacher (CRT) is all about finding the right balance. So, how do you do that? Let’s talk about some strategies to help you handle the highs and lows of this job.

An illustration of a teacher in a classroom setting with diverse students.

First, think about flexibility. As a CRT, every day is different. You’ll deal with various classes, subjects, and student behaviours. This change can help grow your skills, but also means adjusting quickly. Ways to adapt might include arriving early to study the lesson plan, asking other staff for advice, and keeping up withthe latest teaching methods and tech.

But remember, you aren’t just filling in. Sure, you’re taking over for the usual teacher, but you have a big job on your hands. You have to teach good classes, grade assignments, give feedback, and more. Always try to maintain a happy, learning-friendly environment, no matter how diverse your classroom may be. Seeing your role this way changes challenges, like managing student behaviours, into chances to try out new tactics.

Also, see this job as a chance to grow professionally. As a CRT, you’ll get hands-on classroom experience and chances to make money while applying for full-time roles. This experience can be really helpful, especially if you’re a new graduate still looking for a set job.

But, be careful – not all schools offer a thorough game plan for CRTs. You could check out resources made specifically for CRTs like “Relief Teaching Full Day Plans” to help compensate for this. This may involve preparing more on your end, but it will set you up for success in your relief teaching gig.

An illustration of a teacher in a diverse classroom setting.

In a nutshell, being a CRT is about balance. It’s acknowledging the tough parts, but also seeing and using the many opportunities you have. If it sometimes feels a bit much, remember that every teacher starts somewhere. Stick with it, be patient, and approach it the right way, and you’ll do great in the exciting and rewarding world of casual relief teaching.

Is a Substitute Teaching Career Right for You?


Looking at everything we’ve talked about, it’s clear that working as a relief teacher has as many chances for growth as it has challenges. Deciding if this job is right for you means weighing these pros and cons, and also thinking about your personal strengths, weaknesses, and goals.  

So, do you think relief teaching is right for you? Only you can answer that. But remember, it’s often the challenges and risks that help us grow and find satisfaction. Step outside your comfort zone and see what relief teaching has to offer.

CRT Senior Person Gesturing Isolated

Not everyone is cut out for relief teaching. It requires a strong ability to adapt and bounce back because the job changes all the time. One day, you might be teaching energetic first graders, and the next, dealing with a tough group of high school students. But if you thrive on change and need flexibility, this might be the perfect job for you. 

If you’re good at quickly connecting with students and managing a classroom, you should definitely think about becoming a relief teacher. In this role, you’ll learn tons of strategies to manage student behaviour. If you don’t, you’ll have a hard time keeping control of the classroom. Also, if you’re a new graduate still looking for a full-time job, relief teaching could be a smart way to get your foot in the door. 

Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of classroom experience. As a relief teacher, every day is a chance to learn on the job. The more you experience different classrooms, the better your skills will get. Schools need qualified relief teachers, so even if you’re just starting out, there’s a place for you. 

Getting a job as a relief teacher often means going to local schools with your resume and references. It’s all about taking initiative and showing off your skills and qualifications. Never forget, as a relief teacher, your role is important. You’re not just filling in. You’re teaching lessons, managing students, giving feedback and grading work.

Young CRT Woman holding Stack Books

Final Word


Deciding if you’re cut out to be a casual relief teacher depends on your ability to thrive in an ever-changing environment, inspiring students, and balancing the give and take of the job. It’s about acknowledging possible issues but viewing them as chances for growth and improvement.

Despite its challenges, being a relief teacher has kick-started many successful careers and provided unforgettable classroom moments. Ultimately, if you’re driven, dedicated to delivering quality education, and have a passion for teaching, you could make a great relief teacher. Remember, your ability to step in and enrich the learning experience can be crucial for a school’s everyday

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