“There’s either a great secret to all of this or teachers actually do work 18 hour days, 7 days a week.” Me, a week ago.
I’ve just finished my first timetable rotation. Two weeks, done. Another four and I can have a lie in, and I now know why everyone counts down to half term so furiously. I’m exhausted, there’s no other way to put it. Even on the days that I have some free periods for planning time, I’ve either been sorting out fights, talking to parents or getting admin done to be able to do any actual school work. I don’t want to put a negative feeling on the last fortnight, but this job is hard, and quitting hasn’t been the furthest thought on my mind.
The lesson observation I mentioned in my last post happened on Monday. I had been teaching a grand total of 5 days and I was picked to be scrutinised in front of an Ofsted representative and our head teacher. I knew it wouldn’t be great, and I almost wanted it to have a slightly disappointing result so that I’d have the opportunity to talk about the support I’m receiving. But it wasn’t slightly disappointing, it was devastating. My lesson was deemed ‘inadequate’ and some of my activities were described as pointless. And that was Monday. How are people expected to motivate themselves after that? I assured myself that would be the worst day of the week and got past it. Until Tuesday. On Tuesday a student threw another student across the room. I’m not sure when I lost the will to live but it wasn’t long after that.
Anyway, a few days of constantly chasing the management to sit down and speak to me later and I’m feeling more positive. I’m starting to realise that just the tiny things are what makes it all feel worthwhile. Like today, I had just sent a student home for fighting and was feeling drained. I saw a boy I didn’t recognise pressing his face against a classroom window and instead of the usual stern approach I’d give, questioning where they should be, I came across pretty friendly and after a bit of a silly chat, got him back in his classroom. Later on he found me and told me the rest of his lesson had actually been pretty good and he was glad he’d gone back. At end of day registration he was in my room asking to join my class! I asked him his name at this point and my jaw dropped when I heard the name of one of the naughtiest kids in the school. He seemed so lovely that it drove home the idea that sternness and punishments aren’t always the best approach, and that maybe I should chill out a bit.
The good news is the workload. During the afternoon today I got told about something called Schemes of Work. They’re basically pre-written lesson plans for every subject and are going to save me a million hours a week. The bad news is that I’m essentially teaching a made-up subject and it’s going to take a lot to transform these into something I can use, but just having a baseline to go on will be such a weight off my mind. Before now I’ve been expected to make up every minute of every lesson, making it as hands-on and practical as possible. Now it’s like I have a reassurance that I can be on the right lines each week.
I’m going to write a blog detailing some lesson plans I’ve used, because despite the horrendous outcome of my observation (I’ve since been told all the new teachers were ripped apart), I think I’ve taught some really good stuff in the last fortnight. For now though, there is wine to be drank.