Monday, June 12, 2017

No longer teaching, what am I not missing? Abuse.

Was thinking I'd give writing about teaching a rest, seeing as I'm no longer teaching. In fact, apart from the normal life and death vicissitudes which continue to assail me, I'm finding my stride as a non-tax paying person who exists in the twilight demographic. That is, the advertising directed my way is no longer suggesting I can lose belly fat if I stay away from 'these' foods. Now it's about selling me a cruise on a European river, retirement accommodation or funeral insurance,

I've always loved teaching. Or so I thought. Trawl back through this blog and you'll get a sense of it. If you're a passionate sort of person who likes other people's kids and wants to see them learn and develop, teaching is a good job. So why was I so relieved that my own kids didn't become teachers? I was relieved in the same way as when I found out that neither of them was likely to develop Type 1 diabetes, which I have. I could handle it but I didn't want them to have to suffer. (Suffer. What is with that word? I've done a quick definition check and the word fits, for both teaching and having diabetes.)

Not having taught for six months now, a weight has lifted. Basically, I feel like I've left an abusive relationship. You know how people get caught in a cycle of abuse? Battered women return to their abusers. They go back because that abuse feels normal. Well, don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that was me and teaching. I never developed the thick hide you need in that job. I took things personally: a strength and a weakness.

I found a notebook from twenty years ago. I'd been teaching part-time on a contract at a private college. Parent-teacher interviews were happening. This is what I wrote:

I'm at the back of an empty class room waiting for two parents to arrive in twenty-five minutes. The grey carpet has ground-in mud stains. The clock ticks, the desks are grey. So much energy was released into the room during the last two lessons. I found myself getting personally distressed. Fuck, I kept saying in my head. I wanted to call the kids names; to vent my spleen. How remarkably controlled my own children seem because they are trained the way I like them. [Why lie? They were nine and ten. I didn't know the half of it.] Turd, I wanted to say to a boy in the front who seems spoilt; a polished good looking boy; so capable of both work and rudeness. As I try to settle the class some students call out into the quiet I'd created for an instant. It's as if silence is not allowed; silence must be filled; every bit of air space must be utilised. They look like young adults yet they behave like two year olds, out of control, throwing tantrums, unable to sort out their ideas. So many demands.

Was quite earnest back then, at least in my notebook. Utilised! Like to think I've lightened up over the years. That was a year 8 class and if memory serves we'd just had a double period of geography. The fact that I wasn't a geography teacher could go some way to explaining why that particular lesson was going badly.

I've taught masses of wonderful students over the years. But when I think of potentially returning to teaching next year, it's the oppositional defiant disrupters who come to mind. Don't think I want to go there.