Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Eyes have it

When I first heard of a ‘teaching pool’ I imagined a place where teachers could relax, take a dip, float on an airbed and sip cocktails. Academia meets Club Tropicana, that kind of thing.

Sat eating my lunch next to a rat, my illusions had been shattered. I was opposite a disused community centre, having arrived early for my interview for a teaching pool. A man, who seemed to speak all languages, and yet at the same time no languages, had already screamed at me in the street for no clear reason. This was not the kind of place you wanted to be walking, while wearing a suit…holding a map.

This had prompted me to think of reasons to stop any potential muggers. “I have a heart condition, mug me and it will probably be murder. Plus, I’m due to sing at the Royal Wedding, imagine how devastated the Queen will be if I don’t make it”, was one of the more imaginative.

The incident with the local nutter had left me with a thin layer of sweat, just in time for the interview. The cavernous hall didn’t help either; I felt like a dead man walking the walk of shame as I approached the panel. I paused to remind myself of the relaxing mantras of “you’re confident and relaxed” and “you don’t want to work in this area anyway!”

The panel had clearly organised a good cop, bad cop, with another good cop thrown in for good measure, scenario. The women to my left and right were perfect interviewers, smiley and noddy in all the right places. The woman in the centre Didn’t.Blink.Once.

Her ominous scowl reminded me of how you can laugh in the face of death but death doesn’t even crack a smile in return. I began to direct my answers to the other women, the floor, the ceiling, the glass of water, anywhere other than to her Medusa-like glower. Thankfully apart from a few hiccups (I should have drunk more water) the interview for the pool went swimmingly (pun intended).

As I left, a penny dropped. The ‘stare-master’ was the head teacher of a school I had just applied for a job with. I won’t enter a breath-holding contest anytime soon.


Send in the military

It’s not all fun and games, but for our last week of the college term it was. We played an Ostrich racing game in ICT, received a science lesson in sex education, via ‘Mummy laid an egg’ and made farmyard animal noises in Phonics. I also learnt my next placement will be with a Year 4 class in a school, a tube, train and bus ride away. Along with juggling assignments, a flat move, interviews and job applications, I chose a great week to give up swearing.

From a 1900 dictionary we discovered the words ‘skort’ and ‘bimboy’ and that they had ‘bumbags’ ‘mad cow disease’ and ‘fatwas’ back then too. To give us a little perspective, one of the former students gave a talk about how she’d completed the course pregnant and with a part-time job teaching children who only spoken Sri Lankan Tamil. I guess the sex education lesson arrived a little too late for her and she couldn’t be arsed to learn Tamil fluently.

While some of the class hawked mint-condition text books to the new students, I plodded on with the assignments. I learnt about the teacher who discovered a child in her class had coulrophobia (a fear of clowns). The appearance of a clown on the whiteboard was enough for the child to leap out of the nearest window. Another story involved a child who proudly told his teacher he wanted to be a drug dealer when he grew up. He at least showed an active interest in Chemistry.

By the end of another long day in the library I somehow found myself reading about the ‘source attribution of black carbon in arctic snow’ and admitted it was time to stop. One of our lecturers had signed off her day with a message in simple terms to the class. “You’re adults” she said “you know you’re adults. Yet when you come into the class, you regress back to being like children. I don’t want to treat you like children. I’d prefer to treat you like adults”.  She suggested a course of ritalin to the worst offenders. As she talked, one girl sent repeated text messages from her phone. Who’d be a teacher?