Monday, 23 June 2008

Nearly there?

Time is ticking away until the end of term, but there's still no time to slack off. Even if the kids all want to chill out and piss around. They've done their exams so their point of view is that there's no need to learn anything else until next year. I'm struggling to mark exams but I must get them done in good time to get the reports written before the deadline, which is looming ever closer. Then there's the additional wrapping up I need to do in this job, as of course I'll be leaving my grotty classroom in just about 4 weeks' time and there's a billion loose ends to tie up before I go. I may be a Ranting Teacher, but I'm also a crusader for good standards, so I'm currently trying to write notes for my successor and leave everything in as good an order as is possible.

But even then I know that by two weeks into the new term in September, everything that goes wrong can be conveniently blamed on me. It's the way of the workplace, and they're welcome.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Summer Heights High

I've just watched the first two episodes of a comedy on BBC3 called Summer Heights High. You just have to give it a try; it's one of the funniest things I've seen this year. It's an Australian "mockumentary" set in a high school, but the characters are so wittily observed. I especially like Jonah, the 13 year old swearing hard nut with a reading age of 8. Most schools have at least one Jonah, even if theirs isn't from Tonga.

Try to catch it if you can!

Taking the piss

One thing I will certainly miss when I start my new job is the rank that every teacher, if truth be told, aspires to, if they are not working their way up the career ladder. And that rank is the one which could be called the "taking the piss a little bit" rank. By this, I mean that you know your way around the job ever so well, you know who's who and who matters, and you've earned yourself some brownie points here and there. So, like a get out of jail free card, you've earned a "taking the piss a little bit" card. Some people in my school seemed to have progressed further still, to the "don't give a stuff" rank, but that's a dodgy one to aspire to - it could tip the balance between SMT turning a blind eye and SMT getting heavy on everyone.

For example, the "taking the piss a little bit" rank entitles you to turn up to school a little bit too late for the morning meeting because you had five extra minutes in bed. The "don't give a stuff"-ers are those who then deliberately avoid meetings, so that SMT implement a sign-in policy for everyone to try to curb this wayward behaviour. The "taking the piss a little bit" rank means you can casually ask the teacher in charge of cover if you can leave early to go to the dentist, instead of waiting until the summer holidays like newbies. Those who "don't give a stuff" ring in sick with toothache and spend half the day at the dentist and the other half getting their hair done.

So come September I shall revert to being a newbie and doing things to the letter until I work out who the movers and shakers are, and really by now I should start booking dentist appointments for upcoming half terms...

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Washed up

Today I am mostly feeling washed up. Why? Well, on our staffroom noticeboard is a bright and breezy call-out for a new initiative. It's extra training for those who want to develop managerial skills by attending all kinds of fun days out of school scoffing hotel buffet lunches and listening to talks on current issues in education. I'm sure there must be a downside too, but as I had just been propelled into the staffroom by the pure hot air expelled by the over-boisterousness of cocky teenagers, sitting around in an air-conditioned seminar room looked like an easy option. So I peered closer for details.

And then I saw it was only available to those who had been teaching for fewer than a certain number of years. And I have been teaching for more than that. So bright and breezy initiatives aimed at go-getters are only for those who are not yet washed up and past it, those like me who haven't been bothered with management bollocks to date because they haven't yet been worn out by classroom teaching and haven't looked for a cushy escape yet.

Is there a critical moment when a classroom teacher who actually enjoys teaching kids is deemed to have failed to hatch because they have, up to that moment, shown no desire to leave the classroom for more paperwork? Did a group of "experts" sit around and say: nope, once you've served your x amount of years without promotion and progression then you're a has-been, and you're never going to make it? I don't like to be written off like this!

But it did make me think: how is this equal opportunities? What about women who have notched up their years but it has been punctuated by pregnant pauses and subsequent maternity leaves? What about people who were waiting until their own children were in nursery or school and so could dedicate more time to their career? Or those who have moved between several schools for whatever reason, piling up valuable experience with no previous desire to aim for management?

And what about those of us after the free sandwiches and mini quiches instead of crisp warppers on the classroom floor? It's just so unfair.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Big Brother Season

Oh I love this time of year. As light relief from the attention-seeking, constant noise and shouting, and idiotic comments every hour of the working day, each evening I can chill out in front of the TV and watch the attention-seeking, constant noise and shouting, and idiotic comments of the Big Brother contestants.

This year there are two trainee teachers amongst the seething mass of humanity (and otherwise) who entered the house last night. Dale is training to be a PE teacher and claims to hate children. Why is this a surprise? I thought it was a prerequisite of being a PE teacher. He is also an arrogant tosser who believes he is heaven-sent for the women of the world. I mentioned this to a female PE teacher at school today. She hasn't seen the programme, but just shuddered. Apparently Dale sounds like a typical male PE teacher, most of whom are to be avoided like the clap.

There is also Rachel, training to teach English and drama. Some of her pupils from her training school are already posting on forums about how "pritty" she is and what a surprise it is to see her there. Is there a future for teachers who appear on Big Brother? In 2001 a contestant called Penny Ellis temporarily left her teaching job to appear on the show, and the headteacher of her school said she faced the sack if she had sex on the show. In the end she was voted out early but not before letting her towel slip a few times in front of the cameras. According to her entry on imdb, she did carry on teaching, and in 2005 one poster wrote:

after big brother, she came to teach out our school, her real name is penny
ellis, us older lot used to mess about wit her, saying stuff like "nice tits
miss". if the class got out of control she used to cry. believe me if u like and
dont if you like, i just thought it was worth mentioning!

I might try to find out more later, but if anyone knows any more, then let me know!

Monday, 2 June 2008


This is just a quick post to draw your attention to Sparklebox, a website full of lovely resources especially for primary teachers - and you can now download any of their stuff for free! It makes me wish I lived in a world of names-on-trays and amazing wall displays, instead of names scratched on desks and walls, and wall displays left intact for 5 minutes before some little tyke decides to rip them...