I saw on Twitter today, that somebody had written a Tweet claiming that the moment it had all gone wrong was the day that we hadRead More...
I’m thinking of starting a little series on my blog called ‘the funny things they say’ because there are times when students say things that just make my day that bit brighter. Normally it’s something silly they’ve said and I end up feeling really bad for laughing, but personally I think it’s one of the highlights of this very tricky profession.
Yesterday I was teaching a Year 8 class who are quite bright but a little bit too bubbly sometimes. I enjoy their energy but sometimes it can boil over and become a bit annoying.
Anyway, it was a warm day and I was still tired from my run so I was trying my very best to keep my energy up. I was teaching them about refugees and the difference between people smuggling and people trafficking.
We had established that traffickers make a lot of money out of their illegal activities and then we were trying to get to a working definition for the smugglers.
We started off by working out that trafficking might be worse because people become trapped when they get sucked into that world. However, I think I might have made them them think that smuggling was therefore an OK activity.
One girl tentatively raised her hand and said ‘So, trafficking is like a really bad business, and smuggling is more like a hobby?’.
I had to pause slightly because I wasn’t expecting anyone to describe people smuggling as a hobby. I knew the behaviour at my school isn’t perfect but I didn’t think that the kids believed that hobbies could include crochet, watercolours and people smuggling.
You might want to give it a go as apparently it’s fun…
They swim through life with ease,
The fearless ones will hold their own
In a grown up world of vicious knocks,
They’ll laugh it off and make a new
Beginning for successful ends,
The fearless ones will always win
And somehow I don’t mind the fact.
Since working as a teacher, I have become very aware of the fact that there are students out there who are destined to just make it in life. And the annoying thing is that these guys don’t even need to try; their charisma will just carry them through to greatness.
I’m sure that everyone has met this type of person. They are nearly always boys and they are terrific flirts. They never try hard at school and you always find them in the lower sets, academically – of course, in PE they excel.
Anyway, you find that even though most teachers are pulling their hair out when they teach these guys, we also normally have a little bit of a soft spot for them, and we know that they’ll probably do really well in life.
I have a few boys in my classes that fit into this group and I can see them being fantastic sales people and they will probably earn five times what I do in their commissions.
I just wish that we could meet all of our students twenty years down the line to see if our predictions are correct. It’s frustrating to know that these kids have put no effort in, at all, but the world is a better place for having these people in it. Even if it’s just for jokes.
As the kids all slowly pack their bags
We look at watches, impatiently
Knowing wine is chilling in the staff room fridge
And party games can soon begin.
Those kids that think we live here in
The dark and gloomy halls and rooms,
Waiting for their slow return, like life outside
Does not exist for those who choose to teach.
But soon those students dawdle out
And so the merriment begins, with sherry and
A Christmas roast in gastro pubs unfrequented
By the teenage girls and boys who terrorize us
During all our working days, but now
We can be humans, sing and dance and shout
(In jest, rather than through tears of dark frustration).
And over flicking candlelight we talk of kids
Who ruin days and sleepless nights,
And with the wine they melt away like nasty dreams,
Only finding us again when we wake up, mouth dry,
Headache gripped and belly turning in the early light,
Promising ourselves we’ll never go that far again.
That is until on Monday morning when
The bell is ringing and the kids are streaming in.
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.
They are your bloody responsibility,
You brought them into the world
And they hang like a black cloud
In an atmosphere already choked
With a negative chill, pulling us all
Down to a place where we grovel in dirt.
Teach them some manners, some kindness,
Compassion and love for the rest of the world.
I have spent another afternoon crying at my desk because some cocky fifteen year olds seem to think that they know everything. They are really vile to me and I have heard from other teachers that it is not just me. My question is: what the flipping hell are the parents doing?
If your child has reached Year 10 and they are that rude and arrogant, are you doing anything to stem the problem? I would be devastated to know that my son was making teachers question their competence when he’s the one being disruptive.
And when I have phoned parents they say ‘oh, he can’t do a detention on Tuesday because he has football on’. NO! If he is not playing for England, you take that privilege away!
Teachers have no power to use force, or take away things from students. If they refuse to do something that I ask them to do, there’s not a lot I can do. And yet teachers are blames.
I hope you can hear the frustration in this because I’m feeling a little bit broken at the moment, and I wish that parents could see that. I just wonder whether they would actually care?
What do they teach them at that school?
His granddad ask, sipping at his beer.
It’s the internet, I say, picking at the crisps,
Packet splayed open on the sun warmed bench.
The internet? he muses and I nod.
YouTube videos and Reddit or that Buzzfeed site,
It teaches them what frequency a wasp will hum
And just how many golf balls can be made each year,
But how to roast a chicken or to paint a wall,
There’s one whole generation that doesn’t have a clue.
A shrunken version of myself
Gazing at the board and hoping that
I’ll tell that they are OK,
Their worried glances sent my way.
You’re doing fine, I want to shout
As little bodies bundle out.
There are times when I have little conversations with an eleven year old, I have to stop and remind myself that this is not a little version of me that I am speaking to. It is like going back in time and meeting myself, because there are always going to be the next generation, just like us, coming through the ranks.
I see the boys who are likely to be CEOs of their own companies and the girls who just want to have a beautiful family (sorry, that was awfully stereotypical, but you really can see it from a young age)!
But then I see a young girl that will come up to me at the end of the lesson and ask if they are doing OK. And it’s me, twenty five years ago. It’s the me that still exists inside now.
I had one girl who is brilliant. Quiet, but still makes an effort to contribute; lovely writing; great ideas. And she was worried that I thought she was doing crap. And my heart broke for her.
I kind of wanted to write this because kids get a bad reputation. I sometimes think that we forget they have exactly the same personalities as us, and there are the really sensitive ones that need all that reassurance just to get through the day.
It strangely also makes me feel a little less alone, knowing that I’ve not just acquired these things as an adult because I’m pathetic or a loser. I’ve always been sensitive and I always will be. Now it’s time to embrace that.
Do you think they know about the panic inside?
About the tears at night because I feel like I’ve failed?
Do you think that that wobble at the end of a sentence
Is enough to betray the feeling that grips
And tortures a person til their ugly and sick?
Or do they not notice? Just carrying on,
Oblivious to the harm they flippantly cause.
I sometimes stand in front of a naughty class and the terror I feel is overwhelming. And I wonder if they are aware of the feelings that they cause. There are some days when you are just ‘off’ and you really have to put a mask on to speak to these kids, and yet we do it.
I think back to my schooling and I was really studious and I didn’t ever notice a bad lesson. I can’t remember any teachers crying or appearing distressed, but it must have happened.
So I can only imagine that these kids are so wrapped up in their own dramas that my feelings wouldn’t be noticed or recognised even if I dropped to the floor and started howling in front of them.
I don’t know if that thought makes me feel good or bad. I guess today I’m quite glad that I’m surrounded by a hundred people that don’t care that I’m scared.