There is a cover teacher that is often in the room next to me and I feel so sorry for him. Cover teachers have a notoriously difficult time because the kids don’t see them as a ‘proper’ teacher and so they just get treated like dirt.
This guy that is in the next room to me seems to have the sole job of ensuring the students do silent reading and the noise level suggests that everything but silent reading is happening on the other side of that wall.
Bless him. And to all those children who are making his life a misery, I hope that one or two of you become teachers and realise just how demonic you seem to us!
One of the most interesting things I learnt during teacher training was that the teenage brain is not fully formed and this means that they genuinely struggle to understand other people’s emotions. They do things without thinking and then have no clue as to why others are upset. They are the centre of their own universes and we are just inconveniences that get in the way.
I had to grit my teeth and remind myself of this scientific fact today – otherwise I would have thrown something and screamed.
Last night I stayed at work until seven, speaking to parents and giving glowing reports. Today, those same students did nothing in lesson and because I dared to ask one of them to stay behind for five minutes to finish the work, she left my room and stuck her middle finger up at me as she left.
I was fuming, and I still am fuming – hence the reason I’m writing all about this. Thank god I got the memo that teenagers don’t give a damn about anyone’s feelings, because if I hadn’t, I may not have been responsible for my actions today.
I’m struggling with a few students at the moment, because they just don’t seem able to control their behaviour. And I am left wondering if these students have the ability to control their impulses.
When I first got sober, one of the most important steps was to acknowledge that there were issues and that I had to learn to control my behaviour. I could have just continued the way I was because it was easy, but I really wanted a better life and so that involved taking responsibility for my actions.
Some of the children I teach, seem unable to accept that their behaviour is unacceptable and they seem willing to blame everyone and everything else, rather than take a deep look at themselves.
Perhaps they are too young to understand and as they mature, they will learn that it’s not fair on the people around them. But I hope that this does happen because I strongly disagree with giving people an out because they have ADHD or anxiety or whatever other issue they have.
The only way to live a full life is to learn to control those impulses, and sometimes that can be really bloody uncomfortable. But it must be done.
I have always found behaviour management in the classroom a little bit tricky because I’m so soft. The kids like me but if I have a boisterous class they can sometimes walk all over me.
I thought that I would get better at this as time went on but I’m finding it harder and harder. It’s not because I’m getting any weaker, it’s because I’m getting to know the kids too well.
I have a bit of a rowdy Year 8 class and so I’ve had to go digging through their files and phoning parents and it’s uncovered details that I didn’t know before. The problem is that I now feel so sorry for them I don’t feel that I can shout at them.
I even went home after speaking to one of the parents and had a little cry. Being able to feel that intensely can be such a super power in teaching – but it can also make life so difficult, and painful.
I know that those kids will actually really rate me for enforcing the rules and setting boundaries in a world that is probably really overwhelming for them at times. But I still want to give them a hug and tell them that it’s all going to be OK.
I have a student who has a lot of behavioural problems and is regularly excluded from school – so I am fully aware that this isn’t just about me. But this kid has said some pretty brutal things to me over the past few days, and I wonder what goes through the heads of these students as they say what they say.
I am finding that I’m tough enough to laugh it off now, but I do find myself walking away and having a bit of a wobble. Today, he asked me if I’d actually done any teacher training because I don’t know how to control the tutor group.
Now, our tutor group is nuts so he’s not wrong in saying that I can’t control them – but nobody has managed to so the fact that I’m not giving up on them says something about me (I think). But still, as I walked to my next class I found myself letting his words get under my skin.
I know that this shows my own lack in confidence, but I’m also left wondering what is going on in his head. Does he want to hurt me? Maybe he wants to see me cry? Or is he hurting and displacing those feelings?
Interestingly, the moment I tried to talk about his feelings, he bolted. I assume there is something niggling away at him that hurts an awful lot when it’s poked – and that makes me feel sad for him.
I had a shocker of a day today with some girls being absolutely vile to me. They told me I was an awful teacher, they refused to do any work and then when I gave them a detention they just decided not to go.
There will be consequences for them, but I spent the whole day feeling terrified that everyone would believe their version of events and I would get the sack.
At the end of lunch I had two senior teachers come into my room and ask the students there to leave so that they could talk to me. I held my breath thinking that this was the moment that I would lose my job.
Fortunately, I was very wrong and they came in to say that I had done everything right and I just need to take a breath.
This experience is teaching me that I need to trust people will listen to me. I have a crushing fear that my voice will never be heard and I’ll always be called a liar. But my superiors taught me to listen to my gut today. I’m not always wrong; and yes, there are consequences for that kind of nastiness.
I hate dishing out detentions, but it’s made even worse by the fact that teenagers are so bloody emotionally manipulative. I have students in every year group who behave like idiots until you punish them, and then they shut up and think that will reverse the sanction.
I know that it’s all part of a power struggle and they want to show that they have control. I’m not used to the confrontation so I really struggle to hold my own against them.
I am holding my nerve, but some of them are really pushing every button. I was told early on in the year that teaching students (no matter how old) is like puppy training – and it is so true.
I wonder if adults behave like toddlers when they are in the classroom? If not, I might look for a job as a college lecturer.
But the day that the keys are placed in your hands,
Marks the moment when life will see change,
And for those with a doubt lodged in their heart,
That power can fester and eat you alive.
When I was doing my teacher training last year, I was about half way through when I hit a real low moment. And I was reminded of it today because I felt an echo of that feeling; not as strong, but still rather uncomfortable.
The day in question, I had a bad lesson with some Year 9 students and the teacher that was observing me pulled me up on my behaviour management. I was fine with everything that she said to me, until she told me that I deserved respect from the kids and they hadn’t given me any during that lesson.
She must have hit a nerve that I didn’t even know was raw and exposed because I just burst into tears on her. And it wasn’t a few delicate tears rolling down my cheeks; it was full on sobbing and struggling to catch my breath.
I remember the thought that ran through my mind was ‘I don’t deserve respect from anyone. I am only worth my job at the petrol station and that is where I will have to go back to at the end of this training.’
It was a horrible thought and it was all consuming. And I felt a little bit of that today. There was no sobbing but I wavered when some students were really rude to me. I felt like I deserved to be treated that way.
After 36 years of being in the lowest paid jobs where nobody respects you (sadly), it’s going to take me quite some time to really believe that I am worthy of respect.
If you are struggling to believe in yourself, I’m here with you. I’m hoping it’s just a case of practice makes perfect – because that negative voice in my head is really spiteful!
Her school skirt rolled up, so short it was obscene,
As we sat in the glowing classroom, tapping pencils
On the glossy table tops, trying to ignore
The gnawing in our adult bellies, knowing it’s all lies.
She smiles lopsidedly, knowing how to work the crowd,
Her voice that shouts at me in normal times, is sweet,
A honey smear across the air between us. Strange
When normally the books are thrown in graceless arcs
And looks are shot in painful icy stares. She lied
Tonight before her worthy jury, saying words
Programmed from her primary days, she knows
Exactly what to do and I… I’m clueless,
My stomach crimped and cramped with fear.
I had what we in the industry call a ‘restorative conversation’. I put that in air quotes because I don’t feel like anything has been restored. I feel like that student is going to give me hell in the next lesson.
I really like the idea of restorative conversations rather than detentions because I think kids deserve a say, and it also gives me a chance to tell them exactly why they have been held back and what we can do to improve in the next lesson.
However, it also gives students the chance to lie through their teeth to people higher up the food chain. I had a meeting with my head of department, the deputy head and the student and you would have thought butter wouldn’t melt from the way that she was speaking.
Even I was almost fooled, and I’ve been on the receiving end of her nastiness for two months now. I guess only time will tell.