Tag Archives: teaching English

A Right Royal Rant from 2 years ago!

The Guardian published a very ‘sensible’ article about preparing for the new school year: I wasn’t in the mood for it at the time – classic response from a fellow Guardian reader !
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Totally patronising, ill-informed article !

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, what do teachers actually 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 1/2 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 Mourinho – 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 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 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 Catholic ethos of my school – without disparaging or undermining any other religious beliefs of a single pre-adult in my care.

In order to continue my bit of reading/ticking at home I 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 numbed brain.

I haven’t even mentioned dealing with parents – 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, who deals 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 – despite having 30 of them with the only serious sanction is some form of raised eyebrow – parents don’t ‘do’ teaching 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 – if it were as simple as you make out vodka shares would drop like the second Depression.

Points of Interest from This Weekend

This morning G, so E. tells me got up at 5. 30 to go to work; ten minutes later I finally went to bed.

Have only smoked 31 cigarettes this weekend – and am not having what G. calls a ‘goodnight fag’.

Have not drank any alcohol this weekend.

Neither have I left the house or even got dressed: yesterday because I was dying of a cold and today because I have had too much too do. Also it has been freezing cold outside.

Brother is packing up to leave Fiji as I write: both E. and I are really annoyed that upon his return from a month in the sun, he will be greeted by snow. It’s not fair.

Finally, as a result of all of the above and finally  getting a spreadsheet of the data I have been asking for for years at my school, finally writing a scheme of work for the poetry anthology and new GCSE English Language syllabus WAG have dropped on us, and my mixed ability Year 8s have so far turned in 100% Level 5 or above leaflets, I am thinking about changing my planet’s name from ‘Shit Happens’ to ‘Anything is Possible’ (with the sub-title ‘But Don’t Get Over-excited Yet’ – obvs !).

(PS For future reference this is one of those winter weekends when we have been promised snow  by the weathermen and teachers everywhere have spent the entire day checking out  of their windows every hour on the hour to see if it has started yet. No luck so far.)

*’finally’ has been italic-ed because I am aware of the horrid effect of repeating ‘finally’ so close together, but I simply couldn’t find another word to go there, 

This entry was first posted on January 13 2013.