Friday, September 22, 2006

Wet Play

Got your attention didn't I?!

This is what they call indoor recess at the school I'm currently working in. Wet Play. And you thought this post was gonna be about something more interesting didn't you...

2:30am: I'm at the computer on yet another quiet Friday night.

Got home from school - my first week as a "professional teacher" with some yummy goodies from the hot food counter at this little market near our flat, had dinner with Jeremy and then we fell asleep. At 7pm...

Woke up at 11:23 (I always seem to see this time of day on clocks - have since early high school) and decided to get up for at least a little while since it is Friday after all.

I've never been as tired as I've been this week.

Taking charge of 30 children would be tiring to any person, but adding in school schedules, endless trips to the loo, assemblies, and of course LESSONS - it gets pretty hectic at times. Today was the first rainy day we've had since the first day of school. Yep, we expected to be rained on constantly here, but Britain is having unseasonably gorgeous weather (like sunny and 25 degrees in mid September) so we're all getting pretty spoiled.

My confidence level has grown a lot this week. Jumping into a class for even a two week period requires a lot more work and effort than covering a class for just a day. I'm responsible for reporting grades and behaviours and dealing with parents (had my first one today) and even a little long term planning. I never expected to be able to manage all of the little things that make up a teacher's day and still feel refreshed enough to laugh along with my class and enjoy the cute and smart things the kids say. It's a relief to know that I won't burn out from this job after all and that I can handle much more than I expected...

Like the parent thing.

Since the class was a little nutty at the end of the day (no surprise there) I had to resort to getting them to put their heads down on their tables until I called them to get ready for home. I don't usually do this, but sometimes it's the only way to get the kids to think about their behaviour and to avoid being tempted to talk.

While I was getting one group of kids ready for home, I noticed that three children from one of the tables were sitting up and talking. After having lectured the class (hate doing that) about their poor behaviour a few moments ago, I raised my voice and demanded that they put their heads back down with a sharper tone than normal. One of them had already been spoken to several times, so I signed him up for their version of detention and told him that I hoped he would behave better on Monday.

During dismissal time, I was watching my kids get picked up by their "grown-ups" when a parent approached me, asking if I was her son's teacher. The little boy mentioned above had decided that I was being unfair and picking on him all day and now wanted to go to a different school because I'm "mean" to him. This was said in a calm voice with the look of somebody who thinks their child is above getting in trouble and probably doesn't deserve punishment. Unfortunately I had to share his misadventures in school with her and was careful to say that I really didn't think it was representative of his personality or usual behaviour. Which is true actually - he's a good kid. Just had a couple of bad days... not a big deal, but still something that he needs to think about changing.

I'm proud of myself - I didn't waver or get nervous or back down. The mom didn't appear to be too happy that I held my ground and was able to justify my decision, but after talking to the deputy head (equivalent of a VP in North America), I felt even better about how I handled it, since apparently this parent had used the same line with another one of her children's teacher last year!

I understand why parents get concerned about their children being in trouble at school, but I wish they'd take it for what it is: 1 mistake made (usually a small, harmless one) that requires the child to take responsibility and think about how not to make the mistake in the future. It certainly doesn't affect my opinion of this student - he's one of the more vibrant characters in the class and generally works well.

Monday, (as I reminded my class at the end of the day today) starts a whole new week. Even if I have to play referee and remind them not to talk all the time, I really do think it'll be a good one.


Totally unrelated: I noticed the original sign for the school I'm at today (high up on the roof at the front of the school) - it's a large piece of concrete with the school logo and the year 1929. Apparently this isn't even considered old for London schools.


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