So, I started casual teaching this week. Four days because I had an appointment on one day. Four days of ‘teaching’ every period with detentions every break because I am introducing and establishing myself. Four days of fighting with a lot of kids to engage them and get them excited.
It’s been a rough one. And an illuminating one.
I am carrying stress in my shoulders and back this afternoon for the first time in a very long time. My throat is really sore and I am exhausted.
The life of a casual teacher.
But, it’s more than that.
Today’s illumination started yesterday. I didn’t want to get up and go to work. I didn’t want to teach every period. I didn’t want to argue with kids to get them working. I didn’t want to become frustrated by some of the dodgiest lessons I’ve ever seen, torn feeling gratitude that at least there was a lesson left. I didn’t want to ask someone for a key to go to the toilet. I didn’t want to keep asking people to unlock the classroom door, please. I didn’t want to ask the kids to write their names down. I didn’t want to not have rolls, access to Sentral, say my name repeatedly, and the list goes on and on and on.
In one particular subject, the work has been so boring it has not surprised me that the kids prefer to sit on their phone or look out the window. When I found out I had that subject again, well there was only one remedy.
Today I made up my own lessons for the classes that had no substantial work. They weren’t perfect but it was smoother. Kids are starting to respond to me, engage with me, confident enough to ask questions. I’m starting to hear kids say, she is such a cool teacher, and I really like her.
But I don’t really care.
Today was more about me realising that because I didn’t trust enough, I accepted work for every day until the end of term which leaves no time for me to do what I took this year off to do. Today made me realise that I’m falling into the same trap I always do; I put the needs of others before my own and don’t have enough left to give myself. I’m still learning to value my needs.
So I’m working in a school where kids are needy and cry out to be heard, seen, acknowledged in every way they can, not caring who they hurt in the process. A kid in Year 9 pegged a piece of rolled up paper at me whilst I was helping another student with their work.
Other kids dobbed on him. Immediately. He denied it. Anyone that knows me can imagine what happened next. As I told the class, I don’t care that someone pegged something at me; I cared that they were too gutless to own it, that they take their littleness out on someone who by law, cannot defend themselves, and that the poor delusional child thinks it makes them look strong to their peers, and I reminded whoever it was, that their friends dobbed him in real fast. I then suggested to the class that the gutless wonder cares so little about them that they compromise their learning environment; the gutless are just that selfish. And I watched the denying thrower get redder and redder with each breath of shame as they sank lower and lower.
And so today, I really felt that I don’t want to fight with kids anymore. I don’t like being that person, that teacher. Yes, they learn, and the victims always feel stronger when I am this teacher. But it’s boring.
I love teaching but our curricula is so disconnected from the realities of our kids’ lives. Adults are so disconnected from kids that it’s no wonder some kids struggle to connect to their teachers. And I think these are the things I blame for casual teachers and teachers in general having to fight so fucking hard to inspire kids to want to be more and to realise that they deserve more.
And a lot of you are right. These kids do need more teachers like me. I see a few but we are not in strong enough numbers to exact real change for the masses. Meh. I deserve more too.
Successes kept coming. Last period today I used Reading to Learn with a Year 8 class that were positively horrible yesterday, and today had great success, great engagement and great comprehension.
On Monday I was offered every Friday in Careers and in TAS. Today I decided I probably wouldn’t see that through beyond this term. I think I could achieve great things with those Careers classes in time, but I don’t want to invest the time and emotional energy required to achieve it. Selfishly, this year is my gap year and I don’t want to corrupt the freedom of it.
At least I’m learning …
I’m not being negative, just keeping it real for myself. And I love my business activities (which do not feel like work at all) but do not feel that same live for teaching anymore. Teaching is work, and bloody hard work.