Thursday, May 25, 2006

Apathy Jack writes:

As part of the Cnut-like struggle to turn Hoodrat High into a Real School(tm), we're being audited: sundry staff and students are being interviewed as to how well or otherwise the school is running.

One of my lot was interviewed, and reported back that my name came up. The panel of of students was asked which, if any, teachers made an impact, a difference. My name was the first mentioned, and, while the panel all agreed that I was, apparently, "a bit weird", I was the only one to get a unanimous vote.


I leave my trainee in my class during my free period and forget about him. I go and pull one of my kids out of class and back to my room. Chronic... well, Chronic use has destroyed her ability to focus, to the point where she can't read the book we're studying. Wanting to do well, she has bribed a classmate with drugs to read it aloud to her, but she's still behind.

I sit her down and read her the last quater of the book. We get it done in good time, so I discuss with her the implications of habitual marijuana use whilst one is trying to complete assessments. This kid's got no damned chance whatsoever, coming from the family she does, but she wants to try.

Ten minutes left in the period and I send her to get a pie. I start assembling the things for the next class, idly whinging to the trainee - who has sat silently in a corner during preceedings - about not having enough hours in the day. I catch him looking at me funny.
"You spent your free period reading the book to one student?"
"And you could just talk to her about... all of that stuff?"
"Uh... Yeah?"
Then I recognise the look he's giving me: One of amazement. I remember the old Chinese saying "The eye of the guest sees more clearly than we do". For what I consider a time-sucking if not particularly arduous chore, this guy's looking at me like I've done something truely impressive.


Sitting outside the drama suite at night with one of my lot, helping her write a report. Her own, shall we say somewhat lacking English teacher has given her about half of the information necessary to do the assessment, and presented it in a way that confuses even me - and I'm teaching the same activity to my class. I'm deconstructing the task for her, and another student from her class passes on the way to get costumed. I throw the passing student a book she needs for the assessment. The one sitting with me says "We were talking about you the other day Mister."
"You and her?" I nod back to the other, who is reading the book as the drama teacher pins up her hair.
"What were you saying about me?"
"We were saying that we'd never do English work if it wasn't for you."
"I'm not sure that's true."
"It is. We wouldn't understand any of the work Miss gives us if you didn't explain it. And we'd give up when she's mean all the time, and wag or drop English or something. But you won't let us."


At school late enough to miss the connecting bus that takes me directly home, so I bus into town to go the roundabout way. While I'm there I scour Borders for a resource or two that the afforementioned teacher has neglected to provide for her class.

Looking for school books at quater past nine on a school night kickstarts the martyr complex, and, when it combines with the three singularly flattering appraisels of me from the day, I start to feel hugely immodest. "Wow," I think to myself. "I must be pretty flash."

I'm faintly embarrassed at how many minutes I wandered around the book shop thinking how much I ruled. It took me a while to remember something: All of the nonsense I do, I do because they deserve it. Sure, all the idealists will all say "The poor urchins need someone in their corner", and they do, but I don't do it because they need it - I do it because they deserve it. They deserve the time I give up in lunchtimes and after school, they deserve the books I buy them, they deserve my whole damned comedy routine - hell, they deserve better - because they they are amazing and sincere and talented and alive. They deserve so much more than I can ever give them.


Anonymous said...

If it's an ERO audit, then I think you just mis-spelt "cunt."

Oh, and I've always said you were awesome. Well, okay, mostly I said you were a sanctimonious bastard, but I was thinking it.


Bunny said...

Teaching's a funny thing. One of my students is still coming to school even though she has a major drug issue fuelled by the fact that her father is a dealer and her mother is dying of cancer. She comes with her homework mostly done and vaguely in uniform. I can't get over how amazing that is.

Anonymous said...

You get audited like that? Shit. The only auditing we have to worry about is the copywrite people who come in and make sure that we haven't photocopied entire books. Which is something teachers *never* do.

And so far we have never been audited. I only know one person who's school has and they had fair warning.

Apathy Jack said...

Hey, you don't get to scale the lofty heights of becomming The City's Worst Performing School Of Your Decile(tm) without earning an audit or seven...

Xavier said...

If I could be half a good teacher as you, I think I would be doing a pretty fine job. I had teachers like you in High School, they're the reason I'm studying what I'm studying.