Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Essential reading when missing school

Mixed emotions about my decision to leave teaching, Anxiety levels high. Like a balloon spluttering around the room cos some idiot didn't tie a knot in it. The balloon, not the room. Have had flashes of panic, heart pounding, wondering whether giving up the security of fortnightly pay, routine, students and teachers who've become friends is a huge mistake.

I'm Red in Shawshank Penitentiary. (I've written about The Shawshank Redemption here.) There's a telling shot of Red amongst the gravestones. Andy's already made his great escape. Red's 'an institutional man' at that stage. Thinks he's never going to leave the walls and routine of Shawshank. He's been inside for so long he's perhaps afraid he might fare no better than Brooks Hadlen on the outside. And we all know - if we've seen the film - what happens to Brooks. Red, after the cynical speech that saw him paroled, needs to 'get busy living.'

So do I. Doesn't matter that I could keep teaching; that kids still enjoy being in my classes - well, most of them do. I need to go.

Before I get even more mawkish, this is what I've been doing to hold back the tears as I've packed up my desk and office and done all the final things that you do when you're leaving. As you know, if you're a teacher who's not just paying off a mortgage and actually likes teaching, along with the good there's plenty of bad and loads of hard work.

I've been listing things I won't miss in no particular order.

Marking. I've had a long standing arrangement with Mr Incredible, the work husband, that should I die on the job, he will throw a pile of marking on top of my coffin as I'm descending towards my imminent vaporisatiion. He won't have to do that now.
The letter H pronounced as 'haitch'. Yeah, I know. Common usage. But it's something that makes me cringe. (Me to class: 'Are you 8 aitch?' Them to me: 'It's 8 'haitch'! Oh my god! She said aitch. It's not aitch it's haitch.' Did I mention that year 8s are often sure of their own rightness about everything?)
Incursion used to denote a visitor, or visitors, to the school. Announcement at briefing: 'It's the Medieval Day incursion on Thursday.' What? The Visigoths are attacking? My principal told me to get used to it because everyone in the education department uses it. In my book an incursion will always be  a hostile attack. And yes, I know. English is a changing language or we'd all be speaking Chaucerian. Or grunting.
'Pronounciation'. A colleague - teaches English - argued that this was now acceptable English usage. I think not, sir. I put a sign on my wall for the benefit of language teaching colleagues who had classes in my room. To pronounce is the verb but the noun is pronunciation, not 'pronounciation'. Who knew? Doubt whether anyone read it, given the regular mispronunciation of the word.
'Compliance': Scope and Sequence; Victorian Curriculum (until the powers that be decide to change it again. The one thing you can be sure of: change.) "Visible learning"..."darda" - not data. Guaranteed Viable Curriculum. Documenting 'units' of work that no one ever reads for accountability's sake.
NAPLAN. Oh-oh. Just vomited in my mouth.
'Reading is shit. I don't do reading. Why do I have to read? Reading's boring.' And so on.
'I'm not racist but...' Won't have to facilitate those necessary but ugly class discussions where I'm fighting all the hate fomented in students' homes and by tabloid media.
Morning briefing. An email would suffice.
Sports reports at morning briefings, after which we all dutifully applaud, cos we're 'strayan'. (That's Australian. We apparently love sport.) I've often wanted to say, 'Costa wrote a really good essay on the class text. It wasn't an HD - a haitch D - but he really made an effort. If you see him around the yard give him a pat on the back.' Enthusiastic applause follows.
Meetings. Because meetings. God forbid that anyone should have a spare hour after teaching all day to do some preparation and marking.
'Can I go toilet?' (Only if you say Can I go to the toilet.) And why do they have to say, and act out, 'I'm busting'?
Can I have a tissue? Don't get me started on the snotting and hawking.
Can I get a drink?
You didn't tell me I had to do it. The passive aggressive whine of the kid who hasn't done its assessment task.
You said it was due tomorrow. 'Didn't she?' 'Yeah, she did.' Strength in numbers. All agree that it was due tomorrow, except for the eight kids who did it by its due date.
You failed me. It's all my fault.
I'm telling my mother/father. Ooh, I'm scared.
PDPs. Professional development plans.
Pending Ns, for kids who haven't completed work requirements and therefore risk being Not Satisfactory.
Phone calls to parents of kids receiving Pending Ns
Parent teacher interviews. Hoo-freaking-ray.
Professional Learning Teams.
Daily form assembly. Unnecessary.
Weekly Whole School Assembly. Power trip. And get a new version of the national anthem.
Delinquent disruptive kids from damaging families.
Whole school approach to discipline. The 'token economy' where you have to pay kids for doing the right thing. Documenting how many tokens you've issued so middle management can gather 'darda' to prove - pretend - it's working.
Uniform checking.
Kids barging through me. In the yard. In doorways.

I could go on but that will do. If I get depressed next year, missing teaching, I'll read the list.