“… you have time to write a novel on FB ” said my brother.

… or “How to lose it in August”

So, one minute you’re sipping the last dregs of a cold cuppa after ‘tea’ (the working class still have their main meal around 5-ish – with a cup of tea as opposed to posh people who have dinner at 7 with wine) and you’re chatting about nothin’,  as you do in August.

And then a Sainsbury’s advert for ‘Back to School’ gear flashes across the screen in the background and suddenly my children have a violent, foul-mouthed monster on their hands … and Facebook gets this lashing: My brother commented Nice to see you aren’t really busy ‘working’ as you have time to write a novel on FB !!!! FFS. Get a job. Later he said it was a blog not a post – so I decided to blog it as well: 

Whilst I may kid myself that I can imagine the stress of a brain surgeon or the pressure of stock broker, when it comes down to it, no-one can actually pin-point what teachers do that is so stressful.

Let’s be honest: I drift into school at 1/4 to 9 five days a week for 39 weeks – talk to some kids for a few hours, fill in a couple of forms, do a bit of writing on the board, do a bit more reading and then dart out of the place just after half 3, when most people are still on their afternoon tea break. After tea I do a bit more reading, ticking as I go and – crawl into bed totally exhausted.

Teaching is a bit like football – anyone who has ‘watched enough games’ and of course, read enough back pages can do a better job than Jose Mouriniho – and everyone knows what teachers are doing wrong, why kids aren’t learning and hate school.

Of course, teaching may be so stressful because in order to do my ‘talking’ to kids (i.e. not adults) I need to have a degree in my subject and to maintain that level of knowledge regardless of the amount of new material constantly available; I also need to have to stay up-to-date with the latest and often contradictory research on the latest teaching methods to squeeze every last mark out of every last child, and despite the population not getting any more intelligent, produce better and better exam results every year; I have to absorb a range of details about every child – I teach up to 150 different ones a day in my high school; I have pages and pages of rules and regulations to bear in mind before a single sentence comes out of my mouth – language awareness, school and government policies, as well as dividing my attention between 28 pre-adults who really really would rather be somewhere else. I have to keep them physically safe, emotionally secure and educationally motivated; I must not be political or evangelical – but I must be politically aware and correct, and imbue the religious ethos of my school – without disparaging or undermining the religion of a single pre-adult in my care.

In order to continue my bit of reading/ticking at homeI need to take in and assess each pre-adult’s performance, correct their errors (without proof-reading for them) and despite the number of hours spent on lectures, activities, discussions etc in class, now find two sentences which will finally force that penny down, so that the pre-adult learner will finally ‘get it’ and improve their next piece of work – which must be written by the way – despite most other real-life performances being assessed by ‘doing’ (think marital arts belts, sports trials, performance auditions, etc). I do all this with the memory of reams of level descriptors and their numerical demarkers at the back of my numded brain.

I haven’t even mentioned dealing with parents – many who, whilst generally giving in to their child’s every whim to keep them quiet (See – Christmas now begins in the middle of November) and who has failed to entertain them for the summer six-weeks, and who deal with most confrontations by shouting/grounding/slapping/threats of pocket money withdrawal etc etc – (see tantrums in super-markets) now expect me to be Mother Theresa, the entire Disney Channel and Socrates rolled into one – depite having 30 of them with the only acceptable sanction is now some form of supper-expressive but non-threatening raised eyebrow because  parents don’t ‘do’ teachers raising their voices to their ‘loved ones’ anymore.

So excuse me if I rant off the day before my GCSE results – with Sainsbury’s Back to School adverts stuffed into my eye balls, Mrs Psychologist, Guardian editorial writer this week – if it were as simple as you make out, vodka shares would drop like the second Depression. ”



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