Thursday, March 20, 2014

Just another day of 'teaching'.

Should have known it was going to be another challenging day when I got an extra for period 1: my only free period. No matter. An extra per fortnight is part of my job. It was the year 11 VCAL class. Gave me a chance to see government funds at work; the brilliant "1:1" program in effect. You see, all these students were issued their own Netbook computers, at no charge, a couple of years ago. Our students are going to lead the rest of the world because they've been provided with this state of the art information and communication technology. 

Or not. 

Besides giving the words 'fucken' and 'cunt' a bit of a workout, two students decided it would be edifying to pop all the keys from their keypads and stick them back on in random order. That was clearly lots of fun until they realised that they didn't know how to return the keys to their rightful places and that some of the keys were now irrevocably damaged.

What was I doing during all this? Trying to encourage students I don't regularly teach to do the set work; trying to discourage the gratuitous 'try-hard' swearing without getting palpitations myself. You've got to feel for the CRTs - casual replacement teachers - who do replacement classes all day. 

Off to year 9 for more larks. The students have been presenting their oral book reports this week and some of them have been damn good. The entire purpose is to encourage reading. Every week since the beginning of the year students have had half an hour of sustained silent reading during class and they're supposed to supplement this with regular reading at home. I really push this because it is so important that students become fluent readers. 

So, Anna is at the front of the room. She's plugged her Netbook computer into the data projector. She's nervously shaking her page a little as she waits to start. 

But what's this? Two girls stand up at the back of the room. 'Someone stole my pencil case, Miss,' says Zoe. She folds her arms, slumps aggressively. 

'Could whoever's got Zoe's pencil case just return it please? I'm not saying you took it, but please give it back.' 

No response. 

So two girls are up the back glowering around, pouting. One is out in sympathy with the other. It's how they function. What am I supposed to do? 

Apparently it's in the rubbish bin. I fish it out. 'Eeuuw!' Yeah, whatever. 

This is the way the 'lesson' proceeds. I can't see who's spiriting other kids' belongings away. I endeavour to keep calm.

And then there are 'the lads' who've been in my face since week one. They swagger around the room at will, perhaps to share a confidence with someone on the other side of the class. Bugger the seating plan. That only works if they choose to sit in their places. 

An older generation mobile phone slides, hockey puck style, from one side of the floor to the other and back again.

Meanwhile, Anna waits patiently. Eventually she is able to present and she's read John Steinbeck's The Pearl. Wow.

So while some kids are 'disrupting the learning of others', as it says on our discipline reports, and being enabled by parents who believe that their children are angels - parents who complain if anyone tries to discipline their precious offspring - other students are quietly learning.

Me? I'm checking my super cos I'm a little bit over it.