Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Glut of Junior Students

Making a big production number of it, I walk to the whiteboard.  Detention, I write on the top right hand corner.  The ruckus continues.  Raising my eyebrows in mock surprise at the foolishness of youth, I slowly underline the word; turn to face the class.  I quietly exude the appearance of calm.  Some students nudge other kids to get them to stop whatever they’re doing.  ‘SHADDUP!!!’ someone yells, adding to the racket.  After about a minute the group settles.  I start to mark the roll.  Someone, I can’t tell who, ‘blows a raspberry’.  Raucous laughter.  I wait.  I return to the whiteboard with my marker. 2 mins, I write under Detention.  To no effect.

‘I will keep certain people in at recess for fifteen minutes,’ I pronounce. 

Brief silence.  Then dramatic nose-covering.  Girls have pulled the fronts of their dresses over their noses and mouths.  Boys roar with laughter; fall off their chairs.

‘P-PHWAWWW!’  Don’t know how to spell that sound people make when they’re exaggerating how they feel  because someone’s farted. 

And someone had.  It was snaking its tendrils right out to me at the front.  Hard to quell that sort of disruption when you don’t know any of the students.

Giving up on settling the class, I turn to write the absent teacher’s instructions on the board.  Some girls start mocking my name.  Can’t tell who.  Try not to emotionally engage with them.  If I follow my ‘discipline plan’, I’ll cope.  Five minutes later I evict a belligerent girl who’s screaming at me.  Fifteen attempts at the ‘broken record’ technique – acknowledge the kid’s grievance then repeat assertive statement – failed to achieve anything.  Clearly, she hadn’t read the book

For the next sixty minutes, the first fifteen having been wasted, I pace the room, assisting here and there – it’s a science lesson on light - and putting out ‘spot fires’.  I have a heightened sense of anxiety for the duration.

At recess, I detain four students.  I release one because she’s threatening to physically assault one of the other detainees, who’s called her a lesbian.

Twice each day since early November, this has been my reality.. 

A glut of junior school students.  Not a bad collective noun for thirteen year olds one doesn’t know with whom one must interact.  What I’ve failed to capture in the above scenario is the abject rudeness of these students.  They are nasty.  They treat me like shit.  And they don’t even know me.  This seems to be the default setting for so many teenagers these days.

Why the glut?  I taught two year 12 classes.  When they finished in November, the reward for all that extra-curricular preparation and marking is that one takes replacement classes.  Fair enough.  Junior and middle school teachers are still teaching and I’m swanning off. 

When I tell non-teachers about replacements/extras/supply teaching they say things like ‘they wouldn’t do that to me’ or, ‘if you don’t like it get another job.’  

And then I get defensive.  Secondary teaching has been hard work, but mostly a great career.  Or has it?  It’s been manic, occasionally depressing, regularly bowel twistingly boring – that’s meetings – and joyous.  A bit Ground Hog Day.  I hope I’m still learning what I need to know.

Next year I’ve swapped my two year 12s for two year 8s. 


Stella said...

Ah, a good collective noun! That's exactly why I only do CRT work at my old school- you don't get that rudeness on a daily basis. Of course you still get it occasionally but not like that.
It's disheartening, isn't it? Hopefully you'll enjoy your Year 8s next year.
I've got another replacement position at the same school term 1. I had made noises about something more on-going but they didn't hear me.
You must be finished soon anyway? We finished yesterday; hope your year 12's got some good results today.
Stella x

Stella said...

Hey Fraudy,
I notice my feet appear on your blog twice. I tried to get rid of one and it turns out it's from my very short lived wordpress bloggingmyproclivities blog. I can't delete my "Following" as the blog no longer exists.
This probably bothers me more than you as it looks "messy". . .but anyway, just thought I'd let you know.
Have a good Christmas!
Stella (once)

Hakea said...

Yep, I've never worked harder than I did as a year 12 English teacher this year! I'm not sure why anyone would do it; lunchtime and afterschool study sessions, email updates, triple the marking load, pressure for results, high accountability, trying to fix a student's wasted 5 years in one when they decide they actually want to go to uni...
And then being rewarded with in leu when they have finished their exams. No time to catch up on the work that you couldn't dedicate 100% to because of the busy load, no time to reflect on the program or plan for improvement, no time to just relax after a super hectic year.
Yes, junior teachers are still teaching full loads but give me my junior class any day!
Once again, I feel like you are telling my story!