Monday, 29 September 2008

New kid in the block

I am the new kid in the block - and don't I just know it. Year 11 never fail to remind me in their "subtle" subversive and downright rude ways. Today I just stood there whilst a couple of hulking 16 year old lads pratted about making silly noises and generally interrupting the class. I was wondering what exactly I should do. Once you've worked in one place for long enough, you gain a patina of age and with it a certain respect. And so you only have to give a certain look or have a quick word and the silliness quickly subsides. But when the kids have been in the school for four years longer than you, and they hate school, and they hate your subject, and by default they hate you, then it's all a bit trying. And then when you chastise them by whatever policies the school has in place, or you flick through your behaviour management tricks, they hate you even more for "picking on them".

Which is why today, with Year 11, I found myself just standing there wondering what I should do next. Because all that was going through my head was the almost overwhelming desire to yell and scream and swear in their faces, and it was really hard to suppress this and come out with a more measured and politically correct response. In the end I sent one to a different classroom to sit like a Goliath among the overexcited Year 7s next door, and had a "word" with the other one at the end of the lesson. But both of them were resentful and angry towards me for the way I treated them, which was not the shouty-in-their-faces screaming that I wanted to do, but instead the wholly expected school sanctions. There was back-chat and sulkiness, but I just wanted them out of my sight rather than get involved in any more of their arguments. And now I think of it, what right did they have to be resentful? The majority of the class, who do want to learn, should be resentful, and I maintain the right to be angry with them. After all, aren't I just trying to do my job?

But I can't even be bothered to be angry now the moment has passed. Instead I'm just very weary of it all. I can't afford to throw in the towel, which is the most tempting option, but the thought of a year or two of being tried and tested by spotty oiks is quite demoralising. And biting my tongue when I want to retort with expletives is not as easy as you might imagine when you have dozens of pairs of eyes watching for your reaction.
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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I understand exactly what you are saying. I am a secondary school teacher in Australia and there are many days when I just want to leave. I've been teaching for 10 years in all and education is now at the bottom of the list of what I have to do. I spend so much time disciplining rude teenagers and I am so angry a lot of the time...can't be good for me or them. There is little respect and even less innate moral consciousness. Why am I a teacher now? I truly don't know. I do know why I became a teacher but that has disappeared. Honestly, I hate teenagers and this alone tells me that it is time to get out. What would I do if I left? I haven't got a damn clue. I too get to the stage where I want to swear at them and throw chairs...how liberating that would be! How absolutely sad it is when teachers feel this way, what a huge loss to the world. But education is not what it should be and I can no longer deal with what it has morphed into.

Mrs Museum said...

And now we are going to make them stay on and prelong the agony until they are 17 - who thought that one? Oh yes the Government of course. I wonder if any of the ministers have actually ever had to work with those disruptive and aggressive little souls? Cling on to the fact that most of the class do want to learn... chin up, atleast you care about what you are doing!

Ranting Teacher said...

Mrs Museum... when I look at the immaturity of some of the Year 11 boys - and even Year 12 boys - I do wonder where the best place for them is. In school, then we all seem to suffer... but if they are allowed out into the world of work then I think that's even scarier! They are the kind of eejits who put bogies into ready meals or play footie with your bread rolls in the kitchen when you go out for a meal. I have no idea why they are so immature, but I'm sure when my father was out at work at 15 he must have had more sense about him than some of these 16 & 17 year olds. I think, as I read elsewhere, it's a case of NAGS - needs a good slap!

Ranting Teacher said...

Anonymous Aussie - I entirely sympathise. And there was us thinking it was all like Summer Bay High (or Summer Heights High..!). I am convinced that there must be a place for my skills somewhere out there - and I suspect it might be in the private sector. I think I am a good teacher, but I have no interest in the power trips that some teachers have, or the boys-own-banter club that some teachers enjoy. Like you, I just want to teach.

Today, on break duty, one of the other teachers spent the whole time bollocking poor scared Year 7 boys who just didn't know the right procedures. And I just thought what a power-tripping pig he was. Let the army-major rejects carry on with their shoutiness. And let those of us who want to teach have the kids who want to learn. Then everyone would feel happy!

But you're right, too, about the anger. I am in a bad mood for far too much of my life! And I don't just mean miserable, but actual teeth-grinding door-slamming anger!

Marc Sheffner said...

Dear Ranting,
Hold it all in. Be PC at all times. Never show your true self. Don't rant or scream or yell or be in any way genuine. Repeat for 40 years or so, and you may get a pension. If you're still alive, that is. But the government will have stolen all pensions by then, so that'll be a consolation, won't it?

On a lighter note, you say you're not interested in power trips. This blinds you to the fact that power exists, that you have it. There are 2 kinds of power: one kind is power over other people (this is what most people think of as power, and why many people reject it). Then there is real power.

Ranting Teacher said...

Ooh, real power?! Then I choose... invisibility!

Anonymous said...

Real power you say?? I choose sanity!!

jamesofdoom said...

Ranting Teacher - first can I introduce myself. I'm James, it's my first time here and I've enjoyed reading back over the last few entries. I work with little kids (3s to 7s) in entertainment and lots of my work is in primary schools. I admire the work the teachers do and I think high school teaching is an extremely brave career choice bearing in the current poor state of the human condition.

Funnily enough, I've been having a rant about sixteens on my blog in the last few days and your description is frightening but true. We have them in our street. Left school and all they do is play kerbs with a ball all day. They make ridiculous imbecilic noises and generally display behaviour more fitting of a 9 year olds. But then I look at their parents and often see why. That's not an excuse obviously, but it helps me understand. Little things annoy me, though. Why are you topping up their mobile phone if they haven't even got a job. Why do you allow them to lay in bed all day then stand outside peoples houses late at night making noise? So much more needs to be coming from the parents of their guys don't you think?

Ranting Teacher said...

I saw a film recently which was quite moronic in itself, but it proposed a chilling vision of the future, where the population of Earth gets dumber and dumber because only the thicko-unemployed-layabout-hillbilly types were breeding (it was American) but all those educated people were putting off having children and then discovering it was too late.

I think I've said before we need to bring in China's "one child" policy before the chavs take over the world...

(/tongue only slightly in cheek)

Anonymous said...

The problem is that you are acting as jailer for people that don't want to be there. Whatever they do to you, you have no right to complain, because of what you are doing to them: conspiring to imprison them in return for a salary.

You need to stop doing this, by doing something else for a living.

This is the only moral option.

Ranting Teacher said...

An interesting viewpoint... but they are free to leave (physically) at any time. There may be consequences (legally) but I'm not going to complain if those that don't want to be there go and stand by the bike sheds smoking instead of coming along and disrupting what I'm trying to do: teach, educate, enable learning, etc.