Like a dead member of the Knight’s Watch, my journey is also ending.
I have stood on the wall for too long watching the movements of the wildlings beyond. I have made forays into the wilderness and have glimpsed beings such as wight walkers or executive headteachers or overly enthusiastic trainees. At the sight of these, I did not flee. Instead, I took up my sword and faced them; and lost. And now winter is coming. I can feel something in my bones that is telling me that my fight is done. Just to rub that one into the marrow, my oddly nice Year 7s turned up for a lesson in moods that can only be described as psychotropic. Before the end of the lesson, I had recorded behaviour marks for half a dozen of them. One boy, who I like, went back to his ‘twittering wittering strange noise conduct’ whilst another jumped up from his seat, threw a bottle across the room and shouted at his erstwhile buddy before slamming out of the classroom. Another sat gurning and rolling his eyes whilst whispering, I like to think conspiratorially, to his compadre at the same time that another yawned incessantly in an attempt to explicitly undermine everything I was trying to do. There were others, my maths isn’t that bad. The point is that you can’t get complacent; the wildlings are the least of your worries.
So, let’s take my ridiculous extended metaphor and examine it in the type of detail that will illustrate why this particular English teacher is about to go native.
- I do not love and have never loved my students. I like them, most of the time, but love is for loved ones. I also think that love is a little dangerous in modern-day teaching.
- I do not always know who is in front of me in my classroom. Sometimes I struggle with names. I get some names confused with each other-Rachel and Ruth is a good example of this. I put it down to the Old Testament.
- I don’t always act the grown up in a classroom situation. Often, I am infantile in order to remind myself and my students that being a little daft is a decent mental escape valve.
- I don’t plan lessons. I don’t plan on paper at all. It helps to keep it fresh and interesting; for me.
- I know that students can do more but have often taken it upon myself to do more for them so that they succeed. I have stopped this now.
- I don’t stick with literacy programmes as I think I know better.
- I do expect the very best behaviour and am often disappointed by the rough fare that is served up in schools as a whole.
- I take myself too seriously and believe that the profession in which I work has become a joke. Four different coloured pens for marking?
- I am told to have fun but I can’t see that much fun in this job any longer. And, by the time I’ve got home, I’m too knackered to have fun.
- I think that the best pastoral care for the students who I teach is to help them become decent human beings rather than becoming products of an industrialised education programme.
That’s my confession, the one for now. It may grow by the end of this episode and I may be charged with treason or witchcraft or fornication with my self-awareness. I showed it to Kevin and he thought the same. He laughed and agreed that it amounted to heresy. Its author was already well on the way to establishing a kingdom here on earth or in Hull or the home counties. He that sees the truth ought to spake it and spake it loudly on twitter or Facebook.
In the beginning was the word and the word was dog, because a dog is a man’s best friend if you don’t have a cat. Both creatures are equally talented at licking their own arses and in times of a world-wide tissue paper shortage there is something to be learnt from that.