Somehow, I’ve done it. I’ve survived my first half-term of teaching. As last week’s blog was so negative, I thought I better make this one a little more positive and upbeat by talking about only the positive things that happened today.
Today was meant to be an easy day for me, with two out of four of my lessons being tests therefore saving me from the hours I would normally spend planning these lessons. However of course with a test comes silence and that is something that the Year 9 class I have on a Friday morning struggle a lot with. But, in the spirit of this blog, I’m not going to complain about how noisy they were but instead focus on a positive from this lesson. There is a new student in this class who has recently moved from another school. After I handed him his test, he pushed it onto the floor and said he wasn’t going to answer any questions. While everyone else was working on theirs, I went over and told him to have a go at the questions, even though he had not been there for most of the unit. He looked at me like I was crazy and continued to sit there not doing anything. So imagine my surprise and delight when I was collecting the tests in at the end of the lesson, after they had been peer marked, and saw that he had not only had a go at some questions but he had even managed to get some marks- it’s the small victories.
In the next lesson, I had my bottom set Year 9s. This is only a very small class, with 15 students and no more than 10 at a time as a small group gets taken away each lesson. This is a really challenging group in terms of behaviour and every lesson is normally a battle with a few select individuals in the group. One of these students has already racked up around -90 behaviour points called consequences, these are given as either -1, -2 or -3 so in six and a half weeks, -90 is a lot of bad behaviour. He was not in school last week, as he had been excluded for five days, so I was dreading having him back in the lesson. However apart from a couple of small issues, he was generally well behaved. The highlight of his behaviour was when he jumped to the defence of a girl that he normally picks on every lesson, telling other students to “stop it” when they were making fun of her for something she had not done. Again, it’s another small thing but it was such a nice change in his behaviour and a glimpse of another side of him that showed actually maybe he does have a heart after all.
The third lesson was with my lovely year 8 class, who are enjoyable to teach every lesson anyway. But it was a comment at the end of the lesson that really stuck with me. As I was wrapping up the lesson, one boy asked “Miss, are you going to be here after half term?” After I said yes, he replied “Oh good, you’re not going to leave us like all our other teachers.”. Although I was aware that the school had had a lot of science supply teachers last year, hearing this was a reminder that no matter how hard I am finding it, I owe it to the students I teach to stick it out for the two years and be there consistently. Although, despite the Year 8s being reassured that I’m coming back after half term, I’m sure a lot of my classes would be just as happy to never see me again. Oh what fun they could have if they were given a new teacher to torment.
Other highlights from the day included another teacher bringing in two huge trays of doughnuts, asking a Year 8 boy “Did you just wink at me?” mid-teaching and have him break down in hysterics after telling me no he was winking at someone behind me (although this may sound weird and be one of those you had to be there situations) and finally, after one Year 10 boy complained that he didn’t know any of the answers to the test because I hadn’t taught them anything, having another boy defend me by saying “No, she’s taught us. You’re just never listening because you’re so loud.” As this boy who had insulted my teaching was a particular nemesis of mine (am I allowed to have a nemesis? Probably not), I did feel like high-fiving the boy who defended me. But just as I wanted to high-five the girl who had earlier called the same boy a “bellend” and “arsehole”, I decided that actually, if I want a job to come back to after half term, I better not.
So, although it has been another stressful week, just writing this has shown me that even in one day, there are always plenty of positives to be found. The biggest positive definitely being that I now have a whole week off to recover and reset, before doing it all again.