On Monday morning I was called in for my first day of teaching-in-a-school work for this year. My high school. And the first school I taught in twenty five years ago. It has been eighteen years since I left Airds for Sarah Redfern which ultimately lead to my first and only permanent position at Reddall.
Today I am not working to attend some appointments and this has afforded me the opportunity to reflect whilst I wait for my blood to be taken.
There are only two teachers still there that I worked with, one who was teaching there when I was a student. Another ex-student is teaching there and a few friends. So, I was safe.
The school seems physically smaller and the student population is reduced. Plants have grown in the planter box I used to sit near (Years 7-10) and the seats I sat at during my senior years are gone. There are no demon tables and there is a new hall. The admin block has been refurbished. The classrooms are the same. Some staff rooms have moved. I haven’t been through the whole school yet; full teaching days.
What a trip!
As a student, and as a beginning teacher, I learned a lot and had some amazing times. As a teacher, I also had some of my strongest lessons taught to me about teaching.
Yesterday I ‘taught’ a class (really it’s about establishing relationships and boundaries at the moment), and towards the end of it, a couple of the girls asked if I could teach them all of the time. The next class were really unsettled and the lesson was a bit dodgy which didn’t help, but even those kids stayed for detention and commented on how much they liked me, “You’re real, Miss.”
Yep. I’m real. There have been a couple of small issues – nothing major and nothing that caused me any stress; I just go into patient teacher mode and go through the steps – but I realized how bored I am with teaching.
I can do it standing on my head, eyes blindfolded and hands cut off. Even the discipline. I’ve been doing it so long, have refined my practice, and just go through the motions. I don’t expect these kids to respect my authoritar straight off but I am surprised at how many are. To be honest, I expected more feral than I am getting.
In two days though, I’ve come to a few conclusions:
1. My school so takes my skills and talent for granted, and should have utilized it and supported my move up the ladder a long time ago.
2. Lessons for kids need to be engaging, relevant, fun.
3. Respect them, stay calm, be patient, follow up, be clear about expectations, and they will ask you to teach them forever after one period.
Teaching isn’t hard. It takes perseverance and a commitment to learning from the teacher.
Back at the school I started at, I have a greater appreciation of how good a teacher I am these days. Did I say good? I meant amazing; I’ve always been good. And that realization is a gift.