Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Walking target: an apple for the teacher

All teaching staff have been issued with fluoro vests. These must be worn when one is on yard duty. I've already written about yard duty/aka fruit watch. Well, I'm on duty in the same area this year

'Prin Class', as it likes to be known, has added to our pleasure by increasing our visibility whilst we're on patrol. Suppose this helps the friend of the kid who's having an anaphylactic reaction to find me in a crowd.
Teachers do compulsory anaphylaxis training annually. A good thing. As a parent, I'd want to know that teachers knew first aid in this event. I'm not knocking it.

But as a teacher on duty, I'm highly visible anyway, given I'm in my mid-fifties - albeit with dyed hair. Perhaps I could be mistaken for a dumpy, jowly girl with a dowager's hump? Oh, hang on. I'm not wearing a school uniform. I'm possibly going to be visible as I amble around the yard with my tongs and beatific smile. As I've previously written, kids easily find me when they want someone to hide behind when another kid's chasing them.

Yesterday I experienced my second real assault, in 32 years of teaching. I'm naming the beast. It was an assault. I may be mistaken, but I think my fluoro vest turned me into a target. As I walked through my little slice of the danger zone I was pelted, at close range and with considerable force, by a 'projectile'. I'm reluctant to say it was a piece of fruit cos it sounds so freaking benign and ridiculous.

That apple for the teacher really hurt, so much so that tears sprouted on impact. I turned to see who'd thrown it but just faced a row of hefty 'innocent' year 10 boys, none of whom I teach. Had I known them, it wouldn't have happened.

I was unable to take any retributive action against the culprit, who simply had the delight of seeing he'd hit his target and that his target was really angry and hurt. What a hero.

I went in search of a fluoro vested colleague. Lucky he was wearing it cos I'd never have identified him by the business attire, tongs - de rigueur for prin class on duty - and sun glinting off his bald pate.

He bawled out all the kids in the area, but basically they got away with it. Trouble is, you can't identify your assailant (and issue a 5 day suspension) when it hits you from behind. And of course, none of the kids saw anything.

I felt like packing in teaching. Had I driven to school, instead of cycling, I would have taken the rest of the day off. I was shaky and profoundly hurt by the incident. In my time I've stepped between warring boys and grabbed them by the shirt-fronts, narrowly avoiding being clouted in the process. But that's not about me. I don't think yesterday's incident was particularly about me either. I was just 'generic teacher'.

My assault yesterday was about disrespect. Made it really hard for me to teach my year 9s and 10s for the next two lessons. But I'm okay now. I got to document it on Edusafe, so everything's all right, isn't it? I've got my day off to get over it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Help! I can't teach but I've been practising for 32 years.

I read lots of inspiring educational blogs. I find them through Twitter, or other people's blogs. I also read lots of educational articles. All these wonderful things are happening in these other educators' classes. It both inspires and overwhelms me. I began my day reading the wonderful things that are happening in Rich Lambert's school. I was put to shame before I'd even had my breakfast.

I must confess that no one really learned anything in the past 75 minute period I spent with my Year 9s. I know that for a couple of reasons:
1. My feeling of despair as I charged around the room, vainly trying to keep abreast of what 19 kids were variously doing on their brand new free government issue netbooks.
2. I asked them at the end of the lesson. 'Put your hand up,' I demanded, 'if you've learned anything this period.' Shrugs. General uninterest. Resumption of various conversations that I'd briefly interrupted with my stupid question. One boy did say he'd learned how to create a Google account. Suppose that's something.

The teacher's aide - I have 3 integration kids in the mix - shuffled past me to get out the door early but the kids weren't going anywhere.

With about a minute til the bell, I asked students, as I do, to put their chairs up and stand behind their seats. I was blocking the doorway and shooing kids back to their places, because some try to barge past me and make a run for it.

Seeing that all the chairs are up, the desks are straightened and the rubbish generated by a class full of 14 year olds is in the bin, I release them. No one learned anything, but at least they left the classroom tidy.

The lack of learning resulted from a number of things:
1. New computers. I'm hoping the novelty will wear off, that we'll get a couple of decent routines happening and that I'll be able to teach the class.
2. It's a new year and the class dynamic hasn't found its level yet.

Another big problem for me this year is the texts that have been booklisted. Won't mention company names here, but a 'package' of texts, complete with hard copy dictionaries and thesauruses, was on the booklist. It seems to me that no one closely investigated these texts, back when booklist decisions were made. (That's a bother, isn't it?) The books include their own unique codes so kids can join an internet site and access the entire book and a couple of lame games on line. And of course, the texts are related to AusVELS.

You know what though? I'm not sure that my particular kids, who've reached age 14 with no real exposure to grammar, are going to see any benefit from being able to identify phrasal verbs, gerunds and the future perfect continuous tense. My throat closes over just thinking about it.