February 22, 2011

Teaching as parenting

I’ve never been a parent but teaching gives me a small insight into how a child can stay on your mind long, long after they have forgotten about you.  Students hardly realise or care how much effort and work goes into teaching them.  Especially self-absorbed teenagers. 


Unlike my previous jobs where I could switch off as soon as I left the office (at least on a conscious level), I find that I’m now constantly thinking about my students and classes, the school and how to make my teaching better.  It could be waking up in a cold sweat at 6am dreading the hell that is my humanities class, talking to a friend and thinking, “Wow, if only my students were that motivated”, watching a YouTube video about gender equality and feeling sad that my students will probably never have that confidence to motivation to speak about those issues, visiting a tourist site and collecting a pamphlet in case the kids might want to go there…  They’re never far from my thoughts. 


No wonder there’s a stereotype of the batty and eccentric teacher who wears ratty clothes and suit jackets with elbow patches.  This job is going to drive me crazy.  f I wasn’t weird and strange before, I’m sure after two years, I’m going to be even more so.  Welcome to my descent into beyond quirky.  And because we’re all influenced by those around us, I’ll also regress into a 15 year old.  Exciting stuff!  


There were two highlights to last week:


  • I received a lovely and sweet actual letter in my pigeon hole which reassured me that I’ll get through this, written in response to hearing that one of my students in year 10 humanities brought a dildo into class (yes… it’s beyond ridiculous).   It’s the little things which can really make a difference and I spent the rest of the day with a huge smile on my face.  I met one of my legal studies students to have a chat, and she asked me, “Are you a new teacher?”  “No, of course not” I lied, “why do you ask?”  “Because you’ve always got a smile on your face and seem happy!” 
  • I made up a taboo/quiz show style game for my legal studies class on everything we’d learnt so far and it went really, really well.  The kids came up with some brilliant questions and I was so proud of them.  “What is a directions hearing?”  “Name 3 outcomes for a criminal and civil case” “What are the other names for a prosecutor in a criminal case?”  Wheeeeeee!  I’m going to bring them some nice pastries for class tomorrow morning. 

Thank God for my two angel classes.  They make up for the other three… just.    


Today the students elections were on for the Student Government Body.  Complete chaos.  At least the Electoral Commission woman who explained preference voting made it relevant to kids.  “So if you went into the shop to buy a phone, you’d put the iPhone as no. 1.  But what if they ran out of iPhones?  You’d still want another phone.  So you’d put down your preference for the next few phones you wanted.”


The system for recording attendance is down and the school has lost all its class lists.  The internet and printing has already been down three days this term.  I have no curriculum for my humanities class.  This means the other three teachers and I are doing completely different things in all our classes, ranging from creating paper mache globes, colouring-in, travelling through different continents and learning about nationalism/socialism, and I’ve been taking the crazy kids through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  What the fuck indeed.  Also, it’s week 4 and my mentor who has time-release to see me has not made any effort to see me, at all.  Except to come into my first class and disrupt everyone to ask for white out.   What else?  Oh yeah, I have made one friend in the new town I’ve moved to: my housemate.


Resilience indeed…   


One of the associates shared this song as his warm up music for school.  It’s very apt for what I’m going through each day and I like it very much!  “Get yourself up, this is a new day…”


“This is a new day today…”

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