Nothing gets me more annoyed than hearing comments from 9-5 ‘sit at your desk all day, over paid & over weight’ office workers about what a teacher does and doesn’t do. This includes people whom are in all the different sectors, even in the education sector – basically, anyone that’s not an actual teacher! (even you Michael Gove!)
If you don’t know – shut up and ask!
It’s like saying all a pilot does is steer the aeroplane, or a doctor just wears the white coat and prescribes medicine, or the architect just draws a few lines here and there. Not taking into account the struggles, responsibilities and fears of the pilot, doctor and architect. All for the safety and security of the passengers, patient and customer.
Let me put it into perspective for you.
When you go to see the Doctor. Other than asking a few questions for you own knowledge, do you question his/her judgement and claim all they do is prescribe you medicine?
When you book a flight to have a lovely holiday with your friends or family, do you question and judge the pilot and say all they do is sit in the cockpit and have a coffee?
I think not.
If you really want to know what a teacher does. Ask a teacher! (or spend a week volunteering in a school and shadow a teacher)
Someone – whom was genuinely interested – asked me what an average day consisted of being a teacher of teenagers in an inner London school.
I told them.
Today doesn’t end at the end of the day. The end of today is the start of tomorrow. So theres no rest for me at 3.30pm.
Once I’ve safely dismissed my class at the gates. I go back to my classroom to find a few students waiting for me. One of them wants an extra copy of the homework i handed to him 2 hours prior because he lost it. But i have to photocopy it for him because I’m trying to lessen paper waste. His friend wants to beg me not to call his parents because he swore in class. His girlfriend wants to ask for another explanation on what we spent an hour doing in class. Another girl is just sitting there because she wants a chit chat about something thats on her mind, and her friend is with her applying make up for her journey home. I deal with them all at the same time, without leaving them unattended in my classroom – But the photocopier is in the staff room!
Once they’ve gone, which is about 4pm. Which is the time i was planning to leave in my optimistic and non realistic mind. hah. i laugh at myself.
I sit at my desk. I see a note from a student which says, ”Miss, ____ is bullying me”. and another note which reads, ”Today’s lesson was jokes Miss. I learnt a lot. Thanks!”.
So i frown and then laugh. More often than not, ‘bullying’ to my students means that his friend jokishly shoved him when he was telling a joke. But they know i take bullying extremely serious, so they often tell me and i sort it within 7.5 seconds. Sometimes it’s far more serious than that, so i must ensure every bullying incident is followed up, logged and dealt with. The smile from the second note gave me a little more energy to deal with what i wasn’t expecting to deal with at the end of my long day.
I minimise the powerpoint i was about to prep for tomorrow and look for the details of the student who claimed they were being bullied. I call home to get the details. Noone picks up. So i make a note to deal with it tomorrow.
I go back to planning tomorrows lessons but realise I’ve forgotten what I’ve taught in the morning, so i go back and check.
Before all that, i must clear up my desk and my room. Cleaners are not allowed to throw any papers away, incase they’re important. So even when i give them permission to do so, it falls on deaf ears. No problem – i do it myself.
I go back to my desk and lightly plan tomorrows lessons. I look at the clock. It’s 5pm! I need to leave before i get caught up in rush hour traffic! I take a picture of my to-do list and intend to finish it at home. Low and behond! I notice the 3 underlined to do’s i was meant to complete before leaving the premises. “Call ____’s mum, he hasnt completed homework 2x in a row.” ”Call ___’s dad, he mentioned a comment i wasnt entirely happy with.” ”Call ___’s mum and tell her her daughter has been doing extremely well.” That takes me about 9 attempts and 20 minutes, beacuse one parent wanted a chit chat and the other wanted to have a go at me.
On my drive home, i keep thinking about the inappropriate comment that student made and his fathers response when I called home. I’m torn between “thinking too much into it” and the thought of regrettably “letting it slide” and it being an actual situation to be worried about. So I think what the worse case scenario would be and I decide to call my manager and let him know. He says I must put it in writing, to protect myself, the school and the student. I do so as soon as I get home. (I’ll come to know a week later, that it wasn’t a thing to be worried about, but I don’t regret making it a ‘big deal’).
I also remember i forgot to collect todays year 7 homework and i also forgot to call the parent of the boy who just begged me not to call. Great, now he thinks he’s got away with it! So thats another two on the list.
Usual antics at home that evening.
Discussion over dinner about how much management think we have superpowers with all these extra mundane paperwork and their deadlines, follwed by laughter over the funny antics of the kids.
People always say, ‘leave your work at work. It’s better for your sanity, social and family life’. That’s almost impossible for a teacher to do. It’s like you’ve signed up for the unpaid overtime hours the day you graduated from your teaching course. Which amount to about 18(ish) hours a week. Thats less than what it was before i dropped Friday overtime! To be honest, as crazy as it sounds, working overtime helps me remain sane. Id rather be physically drained than mentally and emotionally simultaneously drained because i havent done what i need to do. Let me tell you why, if i didnt spend those extra hours planning and perfecting lesson plans and extra activities, I may have a shambles lesson. A shambles lesson is my worse nightmare. I’m not embarrassed to admit, that I’ve had a fair few of these in my 8 years of teaching, and its one of the most soul destroying experiences i’ve ever had. Especially if you feel that you could have avoided it. It ruins your entire day. Scratch that – Your entire week!
I reluctantly check my work email before I go bed (which I always tell myself not to!) and I wish I didn’t. A few more emails from management about reports, deadlines, school projects – blah blah blah. Great! Now it’s on my mind as I go to bed!
As i set my alarm, i remember i need to set it 30 minutes earlier to finish off the things i didn’t get to finish today.
Turns out, I didn’t need my alarm. My daughter wakes me up 10 minutes before my alarm was due to go off. Great start! I ignore her for 7.5 seconds. So she throws her teddy at me. “Ok, ok! I’m up!” I rush to get her ready to drop her to one side of london, before driving to the other side of london to get to work on time before morning rush hour. She’s screaming in the car because I forgot to bring the weapon, I mean teddy, she used to wake me up with! I ignore her, LBC it is. As usual, no time for my breakfast – because id rather be hungry than have my day unorganised and a shambles. Remember, a calm and tranquil mind = a calm and tranquil classroom. Hunger is the least of my worries.
I get to school at 7.30 and walk through the silent school as i munch on my apple. I sit at my desk and sip on my English tea that i had 17 seconds to make at home. Students start trickling in at 8am – the early birds. Then you have the late ones, strolling in at 8.45 as if the day didn’t start 15 mins ago. I’m already tired. The day has only just begun. Everything aside of teaching and dealing with students gets pushed aside – even deadlines.
Today, I had a fairly decent day. Year 7 cried about homework, but 3 girls approached me at the end of the lesson and gave me a note that read “you’re the best Miss in the world”. Year 8 moaned about algebra being useless in life but made a few funny “your mumma” jokes (that I had to pretend I didn’t hear). Year 10 taught me how to ‘dab’ in between learning about proportions, and year 11 stressed about exams in between talking about football and make up! Break duty allowed me to witness two fights, 1 argument, 3 girls applying make up, 5 poor chat up lines, 7 racial jokes and about 15 insulting comments during a football match! All of which had to be dealt with accordingly.
But at least I didn’t have a shambles of a lesson.
Today was considered a good day.