Saturday, September 10, 2005

Why teaching is hard sometimes

Apathy Jack writes:

My trainee let out a small sigh as she told me about the extra work she was putting in with one of my students in her own time. She said something about it all being a bit more time consuming than she had anticipated.

I dragged her into the corridor, away from the ears of the students.

“I taught the first two periods of today, then I missed interval because I had a student in my room telling me a lot of nasty stuff about her home life. I then spent my free period teaching a class that belongs to another teacher, but I’ve commandeered it because she’s incompetent and the students are not learning. Then I watched you teach, after which I missed lunch because the student who came in at the end of your lesson is making a formal complaint against a teacher and I’m helping her with it. I had just enough time afterwards to write up some notes for you to look at over the weekend. In five minutes my Year 11 class starts, and I’ll have my first breather of the day, because although they desperately need revision time and are almost definitely going to fail next week’s exam, the wagging endemic to Friday last-period means that I’ll probably be sitting on a class of barely ten. You will never have free time ever again, and that is the best lesson I can ever teach you.”

And then I took a breath.

-

Conversations you never want to have with a seventeen-year old girl you’ve known since she was a kid:

“Do up your shirt, for god’s sake.”
“But it’s cold.”
“How is not doing your shirt up going to make it warmer dammit?”

-

Kid who I care for a lot – one of the ones I look after. She’s catching me up on how much she hates maths, the subjects she wants to take next year, that sort of stuff. She promises to lend me a CD she thinks I’ll like.

Of course, she adds almost as an afterthought, lending me this CD is conditional on her father not kicking her out and sending her to live with relatives down country. She’s headed home tonight to see if he’s calmed down, or if there is a plane ticket on the kitchen counter.

I didn’t do any farewells, because that would have gone against the positive spin I was putting on things. But it also means that if she’s not at school on Monday, it will be another one I’ve lost without getting to say goodbye.



Why it doesn’t matter that teaching is hard sometimes

So it’s reading time with the Year 9s – they have books and so do I, because you have to model good behavior. One of them looks up from the copy of Eats, Shoots and Leaves that she insisted on borrowing from me and scrutinises the copy of Mutants I’m reading.

“So,” she says. “Mutants.”
“Yeah,” I reply suspiciously. “It’s about the human genome, and all of the things that can go wrong with it – mutations and the like. I’d lend it to you, but it’s pretty heavy on the science. How’s your knowledge of human biology?”
“All good.”
“Okay, I’ll lend it to you when I’m finished.”

Amazed and pleased by this as I am, it fades as the day progresses and the Teaching continues. At lunchtime, I’m meeting with a student to discuss some concerns she’s having at the moment, when she sees Mutants sitting on my desk.

“Oh cool! Can I read this.”
“Uh... It’s about biology. Relatively hard biology.”
“I know. I read the first chapter in the bookstore, and it was cool.”
“Okay, I’ll give it to you when my Year 9 finishes it.”


I lose a lot of books this way (by the by, Lily; I’ve lost my second copy of Cruddy to the students, and two more have queue-jumped for that Amy Fisher autobiography you want) but by god the little bastards make me happy sometimes...

4 comments:

RSJS said...

"Conversations you never want to have with a seventeen-year old girl you’ve known since she was a kid:

“Do up your shirt, for god’s sake.”
“But it’s cold.”
“How is not doing your shirt up going to make it warmer dammit?”

...lovely tale, you omitted the punchline "Money's on the dresser, call yourself a taxi" but we forgive you.

Blair said...

Jack, every time I read this blog I start pitying your life as a teacher.

Then I remember I work for the ACT Party.

You lucky bastard.

Duncan Bayne said...

"Conversations you never want to have with a seventeen-year old girl you’ve known since she was a kid:

I think you needed to add "... when you're ten years older than her and in a position of responsibility."

When I was seventeen myself, I'd have given my left testicle to be in that situation :-)

Lily said...

Can you please stop lending those little bitches Amy god damn Fisher? I want it for me. Me damn it. & I'm important.