As I sat in my final review meeting with my university tutor, school mentor and teach first participant development lead and pondered the question: “What two things are you most proud of this year?”, I felt like I was in one of those TV shows where as someone is asked a question, you watch clips of memories going through their head and relive it with them. You know the kind of thing I mean, like in ‘Friends’ when Joey is getting interviewed for Soap Opera Digest and the whole episode is actually just clips from previous episodes as he reminisces (lazy writing much?).
Anyway, this is what I felt like when I was asked about my proudest moments this year. Except instead of a reel of rewarding moments from the year, I thought back to some of the most surreal moments where I have stood there questioning: “Why am I doing this?”. Such as when a year 10 girl walked into my classroom while I was teaching and asked to have my swivel chair. This was presumably so she could join the group of other students in the corridor on swivel chairs they had acquired from somewhere. I of course said no, but she then went to pick it up anyway. What followed was essentially a tug-of-war between us with the chair, with my whole class watching on and some of the girls telling her to “stop embarrassing” herself and go away. This went on until eventually one of my really tall students took hold of the situation by just pulling the chair away from her. I ended up locking the chair in the physics store cupboard for the rest of my lesson. Funnily enough, one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt this year is the power of a locked cupboard. I’ve learnt that anything that is not locked up, kids will get hold of and will manage to make a mess. That goes for everything from pens to paper towels. You know times are hard when paper towels must be rationed out.
Another memory that sprung to mind was the time I got hit in the head with a chair accidentally, when a student was holding up a chair to protect themselves from a frube being pointed threateningly at them. Or when someone threw a grape at the whiteboard so hard it splattered and went on my dress. Ok that last one I didn’t really think of during the meeting, because that actually happened today, not many months ago when I was first starting out. Good times!
In the end, I settled for a couple of generic things I was proud of, like getting this far at all when I seriously had thoughts of dropping out around November time, and also how much my behaviour management has improved since the start of the year. I will be the first to admit I have a long way to go, but when I think back to the meek teacher I was in my first few lessons, my confidence with telling students off has come a long way. Although maybe too far the other way, like the time I got irrationally angry at one year 8 student who had wound a brand-new glue stick up the whole way, shouting at him that he owed me a new glue stick, while he desperately tried to push it back down. It was all ok in the end, but I did feel pretty bad that I had flipped out that much about a glue stick.
Anyway, I did it. Yesterday I was officially given my qualified teacher status. So just four weeks of school left to get through, then after a much-needed six weeks off, I will be returning to my school next year for my newly qualified teacher (NQT) year. After the year I’ve had, I feel ready for whatever next year’s students want to throw at me. Although ideally not literally, I’m not about that mushed-up-grape-on-dress life.