Monday, May 07, 2007


Apathy Jack writes:

Away from the internet for a week. Things as follows:


Sitting in my room after school with one of my little Year 9s. She’s killing time scribbling on my board, I’m trying to explain that knowing that you’re clever, and proving it to, say, my successor, are two different things.
“Here’s where normal people’s brains are.” I point at a random section of the whiteboard. Lacking anything better to do, my kid makes a mark next to my finger. “And here’s where you are.” I raise my hand, she marks the new point. “And here...” I extend my arm as high as it will reach, and she again marks the spot. “... is where you think you are. But that’s fine with me. Students like you work well with teachers like me. I know you’re a genius, so I cut you certain slack that others may not. However, do you know what happens when students like you get teachers who aren’t like me?”
“Ask your sister.”
“You mean my sister who did level one English last year?”
“Her first year out of my class, if you recall.”
“And who is doing level one English again this year?”
“And who spent exactly all of her English periods last term sitting up the back of my third form class doing extra work because she had already passed the work her class was doing, but not enough to get into level two?”
“And who has spent most of this term still in my third form class because when she finally went to her English class she had a huge clash with the teacher and stormed out?”
“That would be the sister I mean, yes.”
“I understand.”
“No. You hear me, and you say you understand, but it’s not real to you. But trust me, I will be spending the next three weeks drilling that into your little blond mind.”
“Hey! That’s discrimination against blondes!”
“Sigh. I would have said ‘little brunette mind’ had you been one. I think you’re missing the point...”

Ego Stroking

Waiting around after the most recent school production – I always stay until all of the kids have been picked up – and I get to talking to one of the Year 12s.
“It sucks that you have to leave. You’re my favourite teacher.”
“Nice of you to say, but you remember you’ve never been in my class, right?”
“That just shows how good you are. You’ve never actually been my teacher, but you’ve been teaching me for years.”

Performance Anxiety

I’ve said before that if I ever taught at a real school, I’d be exposed as a fraud pretty much immediately, and I fully expect this to happen in a couple of weeks.

So I went out to the new school to get the lay of the land, and all of the teachers I met told me how highly my praises had been sung by my soon-to-be colleague, Josh’s girlfriend, and by the HOD of Social Science, who had interviewed me.

I met the Deputy Head Girl. She had run into some of mine at a future leaders conference, and had been told that most of my Classics class took the subject for me, and are all considering dropping out now.

I met a volleyball player, who had met my Volley Boys at Nationals, who reported how highly they spoke of me.

This is terrifying. If, on my first day, I’m not the best teacher that school has ever seen – and there’s the smallest of chances I may not be – the disappointment will crush them, and, if they’re anything the inhabitants of Hoodrat, lead to armed insurrection.

This is not going to end well...


“I went out to my new school yesterday afternoon, and met some of the students I’ll be teaching. Why can’t you all be that nice?”
“They weren’t really nice, they were just pretending because you’re the new guy.”
“Why can’t you all pretend to be nice?”

Give me a head with hair...

“... which shows Atticus’ insecurities about his parenting of Scout and Jem. Any questions? Yes, Michael?”
“What exactly is up with your hair?”
“My fault, really. By this stage of my life, I should know to be specific when I ask for questions.”
“Because it’s been bugging me for ages now. I mean, what is that? Is it a mullet?”
“Let’s not say anything we can’t take back, now.”
“Or is it a just a mop, or a bird’s nest, or what? What do you call that?”
“I call it awesome. Now any chance we can talk about Atticus Finch for all of five minutes?”


See, one of mine said I was getting ahead of myself by claiming to be God. (Well, I believe my exact claim was to be “the Lord your God! And I am a vengeful God, and you’re getting a smiting!” But why split hairs?)

As evidence to the contrary, I present the following texts:

“Why are you going to Communications instead of English?”
“I’m not? I don’t know. Who is this?”
“This is God, and I’m upset that you’ve been sinning.”
“Oh, Mr, huh?”

Really, the hardest thing about going to a Catholic school will be having to give up the blasphemy.

I’m going to miss the blasphemy.


So, I’ve mentioned the disbanding of the Technology classes before now. I was chatting to one of mine, who told me that she had been put into an extra Art class – meaning she now does Art twice a day. Of course, the Art teacher has quit. Given that she’s also in the Maths class without a teacher (oh yeah, I think I forgot to mention that one...) she now has relievers for three out of her six subject options. She spends exactly fifty percent of every week doing nothing.

Hoodrat is getting worse. I know of seven teachers who are actively job-seeking. The Principal doesn’t know – his behaviour of late means he is no longer trusted as a referee. I certainly didn’t use him as one. And these teachers aren’t the crap ones – they never leave. Five out of the seven are really exceptional teachers. Hoodrat only has about fifteen of these (which, hell, is more than some schools have) and a full third of them are currently sending out CVs.

I’ll admit, there’s a small (and by “small” I mean “huge”) part of me feeling enormous satisfaction that Hoodrat will fall into the sea the moment I leave. I am, by nature, a bitter and vindictive person, and I honestly wish the Management as much difficulty and suffering as can be heaped upon them.

But the kids are still there. They’re there because, hell, the ties that bind, be they parental, social or geographical, are hard to break for so flimsy a reason as the fact that they’d get a good education at another school.

In my room, searching through my cupboards, an argument raging behind me on the merits or otherwise of My Chemical Romance. The voice of the Head Girl comes from behind me, asking if I have my phone. I absent-mindedly reply that I do, and I feel her hand reach into my pocket and rummage around until she finds it. “Thanks, Sir,” and her voice recedes as she dials. I continue looking through the cupboards and it’s not until much later that it occurs to me that an Outsider might have seen something wrong with that scene.

Wandering back to my desk, kicking one of the boys from my chair, I shoot shit with a bunch of Year 11s about the bands they should really be listening to. The little Year 9 the 11s have adopted (the same one from the top of this ramble, as it happens) looks at me and says “You know you won’t be able to do this at your new school, right?”

And I do know that. My specific kids, and the specific relationship I have with them, has been six years in the making, and it comes to an end in a few weeks. I know it’s a new beginning, and I am genuinely looking forward to it, but I’ll mourn this loss for a while yet.

1 comment:

Hewligan said...

The thing about the hair seemed an entirely fair and reasonable question.