Sometimes it really is the day to end all days, the day when it would be so easy just to walk right out of the classroom, then walk out of the school, and keep on walking, preferably with a middle finger extended in the general direction of all the rubbish left behind.
Year 11 are being particularly horrific at the moment. Not only do I teach a class of rude, disruptive, ungrateful and "not bovvered" brats, but I also have the misfortune of having most of them in my registration group too. Most mornings start with a torrent of swearing, abusive language to each other and to the world in general, ignored instructions to remove coats and scarves, followed by fifteen minutes of me trying to ignore conversations I really don't want to hear.
This morning was no exception. Year 11 as a whole have sensed that the end of compulsory schooling is nigh. The recent warm weather only spurred on the sense of freedom. Whilst most teachers start to panic on their behalf, running around after missing coursework and photocopying study sheets, the majority of Year 11 are planning parties and not giving a shit because in their opinions they will soon be untouchable and sooooo out of there. My Year 11 teaching group have adopted a pack mentality of utter ignorance and rudeness. I'm counting down our final lessons with a mixture of relief and anxiety. Some of the class are desperate for further knowledge and help, but they are overwhelmed by the noisy and disrespectful majority. The boys are locking horns like raging rhinos, pushing and fighting each other before, after, and during lessons. The girls are preoccupied with scowling and bitching and saying "you know what, though, yeah" a lot. They feel compelled to argue that black is, in fact, sky blue pink, and that I'm an out of touch eejit for not knowing that.
As we sorted out coursework, most of which was done in Year 10 with their last teacher, I've lost count of the number of times I've been told she was a "crap" teacher when I know that by reputation she was fearsome and innovative and got good results. What a legacy to retire with: your final students, in their ignorance, only remembering you as "crap" because they couldn't be bothered to turn in coursework by the right deadlines.
So after a morning of stroppy form group and antagonistic GCSE group, I thought I was going to burst a blood vessel. What choices are there? Rise to the bait of being wound up? No. Engage in a discussion and hear out their views? Impossible: it's a one way street of closed minds and filthy mouths. Try to ignore it all and keep calm? That's the only option I've seen as viable, but it's so hard. But it's also rather defeatist. And it leads to zero job satisfaction.
Last week I tired to engage the same group in some fancy lesson to revise quite a dry topic if you're 16 years old and thinking of blow jobs not revision. It ended up with paper aeroplane revision sheets and stolen scissors. And I thought to myself, why waste my time preparing stuff like that when it ends up with such total disrespect?
One morning a huddle of my tutor group were loudly discussing how rude they had been to another teacher the day before. It became a competition of bravado: each trying to out-do the others with what they had told a teacher to do or how they had acted. The rest of the class had stopped their conversations to listen, and so I couldn't close my ears to it any more. I asked them if they thought that people became teachers because they wanted constant abuse, or if it's because they wanted to help educate people. Their replies were quite disturbing, and can be summarised as such:
A) most teachers are on power trips, and they only become teachers because they like feeling powerful in front of teenagers;
B) if you don't like getting verbal abuse all day long, then why do you become a teacher? If you don't want abuse, you should go and work in a primary school.
And that's it. My right to reply or attempts to introduce some logic into the room were shouted down by snarling mouths and noses wrinkled with disgust. And since then, they seem to be stuck in a rut of repetitive discussion about which teachers they hate more than others, and who's going to get what before they leave in May. One foul-mouthed boy, who each morning is either nursing a hangover or verbally abusing everyone that walks through the door, told me that I'm the only teacher he doesn't have a grudge against. At which point one of the mouthiest girls burted out: "Oh I have a grudge..." but luckily for me or her the bell started to drown out what I've done to piss her off. And this is the girl for whom, just two weeks ago, I wrote a glowing reference for FE college, where she can train to care for people's babies, and possibly deafen them with her shrieking and foul mouth.
So I'm going to make myself a little chart and start to tick off the days before Year 11, in their own words, "do one" and "bugger off". And how they will cope in the big bad world with attitudes like that... Well, I'd like to be a fly on the wall - and possibly a fly on their dinner, serving up some of the crap they've given me over the past few months.