Survival Strategies…

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Kids can be scary.

Pol Pot knew that and so do many terrorist organisations. They have not yet reached the age of consequences, where their deeds have repercussions; some probably never will. They are pack animals moving in agreed conventions of hierarchy. Permanent teachers are part of the pack even if they don’t know it. They are accepted group members who have a right to grunt and give instructions. Often, the permanent teacher inspires love and respect which allows the group to move onwards. However, as love and respect are fragile concepts, sometimes the trust can be broken. Once broken, they rarely mend themselves properly.

Long-term absence with anything other than cancer will do it. Into the void left behind by such an accepted member, a supply teacher is lured. Kids just love a supply teacher and the older ones can eat more than their own body weight of one in a day.

 

I am not afraid. I am not afraid.

I am not in my right mind.

  • Ask for quiet. Give instructions.
  • Write them on the board.
  • Ask for quiet.
  • Talk through the instructions.
  • Ask for silence.
  • Talk.
  • Stop.
  • Ask for silence.
  • Look brooding.
  • Be silent.
  • Ask for silence.
  • Raise your voice whilst lowering the pitch.
  • Demand silence.
  • Move towards the most ardently indifferent.
  • Ask them what they are doing.
  • Keep your head when they reply that they don’t know because you haven’t told them yet.
  • Look incredulous.
  • Ask for silence.
  • Ask if anyone was listening when you asked for silence the last dozen times.
  • Raise your voice in an attempt to get them to listen.
  • Try not to scream.
  • Try not to kick the door.
  • Try to keep yourself in the room.
  • Attempt to put it all into perspective.
  • Allow your jaw to drop widely open when some inane member of SLT comes into your room.
  • Let your jaw hang loosely as silence descends.
  • Listen to the trite appeasement offered by the SLT member as they tell you that this is usually a very good class.
  • Try not to show your disbelief as some of the gobbier students tell the SLT that they were not told what to do.
  • Enter into a conversation with the SLT about the importance of good behaviour for learning.
  • Fade away in volume as it becomes obvious that the SLT thing is not listening to you as they have already started to pull a funny appeasing kind of face to one of the dragons.
  • Listen to some more of their bullshit ‘come on kids’ speech.
  • Allow the SLT being from another universe to tell you that the class will now be good and attentive.
  • Watch the door as it closes on the darting SLT whatever and imagine how they have formed their opinion of your inability to basically teach such an easy group of wonderful young people.
  • Brace yourself for an immediate increase in volume and belligerence.
  • Face accusations that you haven’t told them what to do.
  • Try to seek out those friendly faces that you thought were there at the beginning of the lesson.
  • Despair on discovering that they too have fallen into conversations with those around them or have buried their faces into the sand of their exercise books.

 

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Sit.

Breathe.

Count the seconds as they pass.

 

2 thoughts on “Survival Strategies…

  1. I love this post. Those times you describe were when I had to ‘keep it in the hour’. ‘Keeping it in the day’ was too much. There were also some members of SLT who were not aliens (those who came in with a friendly grin and just sat quietly with and encouraged the pupils – bless you!) and some students who were relentlessly kind (the one or two in thirty who would stay behind and help clear up the mess) – they were the minority, but focussing on and remembering them helped too. I’m out of it now, but apart from ‘sitting’, ‘breathing’ and ‘counting the minutes’ as you say, maybe these coping strategies might help others still there.

    Incidentally, the above was not my experience of supply (which I only did for two weeks before teaching in a completely different context (EAL and tutoring)). I may have been lucky, but perhaps I just felt more free then too and the pupils picked up on this. The kids made me laugh as they would ask me if I were a supply teacher or a proper teacher. “Both” I would say! “And I’ve read your behaviour policy”. It was amusing to see their surprise! Some classes were still tough though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am still doing supply even though the schools I have worked for have constantly asked me to become one of them. It is tough, but working as a full-time teacher is now a very scary prospect…

      Like

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