Friday, 10 October 2008

Am I shit?

Please, please tell me that not everybody is perfect and I'm not the only person who doesn't always have a starter, plenary, all-singing and dancing kind of lesson.

I was visited by another teacher today from another department. Thanks to timetabling tangles, I teach a few lessons outside of my subject specialism. It's not like I know nothing about this other subject: I've taught it on and off for many a year now and I'm qualified in the subject up to a high level. But obviously, in a new school, they do things differently, and alongside everything else that's new and slightly confusing at times, I'm dealing with teaching this other subject with not much guidance at all, apart from my own stack of resources and experience. For a start, the department might as well be on the other side of town to where my classroom is. Location isn't that important though: only this afternoon I was thinking about how I hadn't seen one member of my department, who teaches next door but one, for about three weeks.

But anyway, I have seen teachers from this other new department about four times since I started and then only in passing. But then today the head of department decided to drop in to see how I'm doing. My classes' books were scrutinised, and I had a round of rapid fire questions about what I've been doing. And then, like a magician who has been hiding the top hat, this teacher suddenly pulled out a white rabbit in the shape of a child's book from a previous year. "Ta-da! Now this is how you should have been doing it for the past few weeks." Gee, thanks. And you didn't show me this before because...?

So the whole exercise just made me feel like crap. I'd been doing alright, but it just wasn't the right type of alright. My starters were the wrong flavour, and I'd marked in the wrong colour. Pah. I just wished I'd been asked the right types of questions. Were the children enjoying the subject? Yes. Were we adhering to the national curriculum and its latest incarnation of levels etc etc? Yes. Was I differentiating for the enormous range of abilties in my groups? Yes. I'm not saying I didn't learn anything from this brief visit, because it did make me rethink one of the tasks we had done, but it just reinforces the fact that in teaching you are never ever right. You can never reach nirvana. You are a mere cockroach who keeps coming back for more shit.

Happy weekend. :-)


oldandrew said...

I have to wonder if you have changed schools much before.

I have moved schools several times. For the first year at a new school you are always shit. People treat teachers who are new to a school like they are new to teaching. Even teachers who have only just finished their NQT year try and give you advice. For about a year you mainly get criticism, hassle and blame. Even when they are trying to be "positive" they end up being patronising. This happened to me even at a school where OFSTED happened in the first week of term and I got some of the best observations in the department.

After a year they suddenly start to notice that, actually, your way appears to work and suddenly you are really good after all.

Or at least that's my experience.

Anonymous said...

Well it looks like the HoD of that department doesn't do his/her job then so how can you be expected to come up to their high standards if you aren't told? No way you are crap - I see it time and again. SO called leaders who (a) look after some not all of their staff and (b) ignore the crap teachers if they are 'part of their clique'. My own department is split into two clear parts. Head plus 2 very venerable (old fashioned and hated by the kids) teachers and a young young one who thinks he/she is the best thing going yet keeps missing days or lesson due to stress ie drink). The other part consists of eachers who work hard and help each other out all the time and who wish the Head would see this and sort the wasters out....

You are not alone brother! 8-)

KeyReed said...

Well I have to say my lessons never have a starter although I might get going on something whilst waiting for late pupils to saunter in from around the school. Plenary, NO! Summing up - quite often. All this crap came in what, 5 years ago? Methinks, leopard and spots.
Should there not be a policy for scrutiny of work. How about a polite, "I'd like to pop into one of your lessons".
Ignore this HoD and keep your chin up. Was s/he covering his/her own back?
If you were an NQT there would have to be a mentoring system in place and you'd have to have some ownership of it. Do the rules changes suddenly when you've been teaching some years? This just sounds downright rude to me.

Ranting Teacher said...

Thanks for your replies. I've been thinking about this today and just came back to read my entry again because I was wondering if I had been way too negative. But no, I don't think so!

oldandrew, this is my 4th full-time permanent school, but I was at the last one quite a while so I guess I've forgotten what it's like to be new. At the last couple of places I was just left to get on with it, which is what I like!

Steve said...

Hmm. Speaking as someone who is vaguely considering a change of profession and going into teaching... I think I might stick to the shit creek that I'm currently paddling up!

Ranting Teacher said...

steve, it's not all bad...! Just here is my place to vent my fury about the rubbish bits - and every job has them!