Monthly Archives: December 2012

Article

This is an article I’ve written for the Early Learning HQ website ;

I can remember the moment I first decided to go into teaching. I was waiting at a train station and spotted a poster on the opposing platform. It was for teaching recruitment and featured a wide-eyed boy with the tag line ‘His first Eureka moment!’ It suggested he was about to prove that the learning had clicked. “What if he’s wrong though?” I wondered “and to the question “so ¾ of 12 is…?” he’s about to suggest “Thursday?””

The seed had nevertheless been sown and within a week I found myself at a ‘Train to Teach’ seminar. Casting an eye around the room, it was a healthy mix of age ranges and backgrounds and I wondered who from my peers would eventually become a teacher. I also found myself wondering what kind of teacher I will be. Two years on from this experience I can tell my past self that I’m a dedicated and exhausted teacher.

When I started teaching it coincided with my writing a blog entitled ‘Are you an Alien: Experiences of a Male Primary School Teacher’. I naïvely thought being a male teacher would make my accounts somehow different. In a predominantly female occupation I anticipated being excluded from conversations, kept from social engagements or hopefully preyed upon sexually. Nothing of the sort! I’m not even the first point of contact to lift heavy items. A female colleague recently raised me shoulder-high to prove a match in physical strength!

Despite being a ‘bloke’, I see little worth in any schools endeavouring to reach a 50/50 split in the workforce. The best teacher for a child is the one that teaches best, regardless of gender. Any positive role model will be beneficial for a child, whether the child be from a single parent family or otherwise.

Teaching has provided me with the full gamut of experiences. There have been the inevitable negatives, (the failed observations, burgeoning workloads, long hours and difficult children) but equally lots of positives (seeing improvements, positive feedback, the end of term and of course…the Eureka moments).

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eighteen to one

In deference to a wilting soul after an endless term I will leave you with this anecdote from my under-appreciated blog (not that I’m prone to exaggeration). Some children were drifting off at the end of the day. One of them was complaining that his parents never got him the Christmas presents he wanted.  “Well I don’t have to worry about that” interrupted another child “because I don’t have parents”. “You don’t have parents?” he was asked “so who loves you?”

There was an awkward pause as the boy searched for an answer. Just at that moment another child appeared and launched himself onto his back. “We do!” he screamed. Order was restored. Christmas was saved.

Happy Christmas all!

Just friends

It’s a recurring nightmare. I’m stuck in a room with a load of people ‘passionate about teaching’. Every person is animated, every conversation relentlessly dull. I try the doors then the windows. There is no escape. Finally I’m cornered by a woman with thick rimmed glasses and a jumper that smells of soil. “I’m enormously excited about”…at this point I wake up in a cold sweat.

The most recent cold sweat was caused by a genuine sickness. Despite this I still wished for the sound of people with chest compressors shouting “Clear!” in the background, when I made the call.

At my first placement School they made a big issue over absence. Your name would be written in three-foot letters on the staff room notice board, along with the nature of your ailment. I remember one occasion when a woman lost her child prematurely. The officious secretary walked into the room, wrote the woman’s name and the word ‘baby’ next to it…

The penultimate week of term involves cramming everything in. I went from measuring head sizes (for carnival hats, not some Nazi experiment) to getting the kids to stick new Literacy targets into their books (i.e. digging their own graves).  It was while gluing, that I realized I too had the OCD bug. I heard an unrecognisable voice saying “That’s not stuck in straight!” “You can see parts of the sheet sticking out of the side of the book!” and “the ends are curling up!”

The usual human dramas continue. The seasonal feeling was disrupted by a child who christened a story ‘F**k the fairy’. He was later excluded for threatening behaviour which was when my holiday officially started. Another child told me that after wearing the same design of socks as me one day; he now wears those same socks every day. In PSHE we covered the dangers of hero-worship and foot hygiene.

As the week wore on I could feel myself flagging. “What does this mean?” asked one child. I’d written ‘Read your sentences and make sure they make sentence’. So used to shouting at the children to ‘focus!’ I nearly bellowed it at the checkout girl in Iceland.

One of our Assistant Head teachers sat in on a lesson to view the children she called ‘the head cases’. I asked one child to repeat back to me what she had to do. She’d no idea. I shot the Assistant Head teacher a “what are you gonna do?” look, only to find she wasn’t listening either. Yes, I. am. that. boring. It’s no surprise she was abbreviated to ‘Ass Head’ in a recent School text message.

I slipped over in the School corridor on the way home and thus spent the journey home smelling of disinfectant. Thankfully there was no serious damage done to my dancing feet and we finished the week with our end of term party. Another ‘Ass Head’, of the sleazy variety, was working his way around leaving a trail of slime behind him. He was rejected at every turn. To have watched him on fast forward would be like seeing a ball whiz round a pinball machine.

Despite the presence of other schools there, namely the Convent of Jesus and Mary infant school, Our Lady of Grace RC School and The Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School there was not the usual end of evening orgy.

What did appear in the twilight of the evening was a strange little man who danced as if in the throes of an epileptic fit. He was so roundly ignored I assumed that only I could see him, hence he became my new imaginary friend. It was only when a woman grabbed his tie and swung him around good-naturedly that I realised she could see him too. Expect our custody battle to start shortly.