Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Wobble

They say everyone can remember what they were doing the day JFK was assassinated. I remember what I was doing the day I decided I would never become a teacher. I was sitting in a toilet cubicle in school, with my head resting against the wall, thinking “I’m never going to become a teacher”.

It was an accumulation of things. The relentless pressure, the significant workload and the protracted journey, all played a part in my crumble. It was a day like no other. I was observed by the school’s behaviour management guru for a lesson in which the kids really put the ‘mental’ into mental maths. At least she had plenty to write about afterwards.

The next lesson, so help me God, was an RE lesson on forgiveness. I exemplified what I was teaching by giving them a second chance to behave. One child told me her “cousin was getting religion this week” and another that the lesson was boring and he hated it. “So forgive me” I said. That shut him up.

Both myself and my school mentor (who herself is only in her second year of teaching) have been non-communicative. It’s not because there is any animosity, we’re both just a bit shy. Stick any two shy people together and it’s not likely they’ll start revealing their inner most feelings and organise to go on safari together.

It was only when she finally looked me in the eye and said “are you struggling?” that some of the pressure was alleviated. We finally began to chat on an even level and I heard myself being honest for the first time in a long time.

The recent prophecies for the end of the world have proven false so as it stands I’m four weeks shy of completing the course. To misquote JFK “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but the school term carries on”.

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The Bridge

“At least it’s over in a couple of weeks for you” said a shell-shocked teacher to me, as he led his class out of a relentlessly dull assembly. In a time of uncertainty and anxiety, sometimes you need a little perspective.

We’re at the stage in the course when some are getting their first teaching jobs, while others, such as me, are just trying to get through the second placement. It was touch and go for a moment. I started inexplicably choking one morning as the IT teacher helpfully ran through some tutorials.

I managed to choke ‘British-style’ creating the minimum of fuss, to the extent that when I sharply exited the room (I want to die surrounded by family not a bunch of computers) the IT teacher wondered what he’d said. I couldn’t even blurt out a ‘thank you’ so I resembled a particularly ungrateful bastard.

Creating the illusion of calm is not helped when a mouse runs over your hand in a science cupboard or you witness a teacher projectile vomit into a sink. Added to this was a lesson in which I learnt a lesson, never work with children and water.

I couldn’t even count on my lunchtime serenity in the bungalow. I thought it odd to walk into the lounge and hear a woman stop mid-anecdote. It was a pause just long enough for her to be mouthing the words “Whose he?” My face didn’t fit so the head teacher, no less, had the responsibility of evicting me from the bungalow. Davina must have been indisposed.

Lunch in the staff room though has enabled me to discover a novel written by one of the teaching staff. It lay impotently in the corner, clearly unappreciated by the staff, so I picked it up and what a find it’s been! If ever a book makes you think “I gotta meet the person that wrote this crap”, this is it!

This is the abridged version. It’s a tale involving “a darker incarnation of lust and eroticism revealed in both a physical and spiritual form” hooked yet? Let me introduce the main characters, Simon and Miss Manlove (I ain’t kidding). Miss Manlove moves to a house “surrounded by blatantly phallic statues and a grotto dedicated to hedonism and depravity” (imagine the Chapman Brothers meets Father Christmas), where she discovers Simon “a man mountain of a gardener with a rare gift”.

They begin an affair and it turns out Simon isn’t just gifted in one department, but two! as you’ve probably already guessed, he’s “half-dryad, half-human”. “What’s a dryad?” I can barely hear you care, not sure, I skipped over that bit but he was ultimately chased by an incubus demon from the ‘otherside’ and became a “bloody mass of feathers”.

The good news is there’s apparently a part two to this ‘Mills and Boon versus Satan’ genre of writing. The question is who wrote the book? I didn’t recognise the name and find myself staring just that little bit too long into the eyes of staff around me, looking for signs of demonic possession.

Perhaps it was the woman who barfed ‘Exorcist-style’ into the sink? Or the head teacher who devilishly expelled me from the bungalow? Or perhaps it was the IT teacher who cursed me with a choking fit just long enough for me to avoid seeing the numbers 666 written in gothic font? To be continued…