4 Jan 2010

Bak 2 Skool...or something

Back in the zone? Ready to Teach? Prepared to make a difference to the lives of countless of children in a myriad of infinitesimal yet, ultimately, vital ways?

Oh, God No!

My first day back at school was like having a glass case stuffed with straw placed strategically around my head. Where once I was lucid I am now dense. Where I would have inspired moments of high speed action I now lumber around the room in a semi-catatonic state.

An example is in order.

I welcomed my class. They sat down and busied themselves by copying down the learning objective which I had written in a moment of unequaled energy before slumping back into my chair with my mug of coffee and a feeling of hollowness.

Then came that moment. The worst possible moment for a teacher.

Thirty pairs of eyes look at you quite silently, almost mockingly, as if to say 'go on then, teach me'.

I don't respond.

A pupil coughs politely.

I smile ruefully at them.

One looks pointedly at the clock and then raises their eyebrows.

I sip at the coffee.

One of them says 'Er...sir?'

I point languidly to the board over my shoulder and nod.

As one the class looks at the board and looks back, puzzled expressions on their faces.

A slight rustle of paper and the tick of the clock is all that can be heard.

There is a sniff of a slightly snotty nose followed by another cough. Time slips by in an academic slumber.

I finally cave, realising that despite my best efforts I will actually have to talk to the pupils in the lesson 'do the task I have written on the board' I say sarcastically.

After a long pause one of the pupils put their hand up.

'Yes? What?' I demand in a slightly overly aggressive and somewhat petulant tone.

'Er...what task?'

I look round and notice that the learning objective and date are both correct and, considering my handwriting, fairly legible. Indeed there is nothing wrong with these two pieces of information. Nothing at all. OFSTED would look at those bits of writing and find no fault. If I was observed on my ability to write a learning objective and date then tick me off the list, for I am akin to a god in these respects.

What OFSTED may have an issue with is the unbroken field of white that runs between the learning objective and the date. The bit where the work should be. The bit the kids have been silently and oh-so-politely waiting for.

Oh shitting fuck! I've been having a staring contest with thirty pupils for ten minutes trying some kind of non-verbal, new-age, Zen-teaching and they've been sat there thinking 'lazy cunt, why isn't he teaching us?' My assumption that I had actually written the work on the board was somewhat optimistic. Perhaps I had some thought that by merely thinking about the task there would be some kind of pedagogical voodoo in which, through some form of telekinesis, work would mysteriously appear on my white board.

I jumped, from my chair. Did a little about turn and flicked the cap off the pen in a nonchalant way, nodded to the kids and turned to the board.

Could remember the task I wanted to set? Of course I fucking couldn't. I stood, back to the class, desperately thinking of some kind of engaging and relevant task to set. I was there for five minutes.

During which time the spell of me sat at the front had broken and there was a small riot taking place behind me.

And I'll admit, head on board, brain like dough I gave up.

We did reading. It was nice.


  1. The nerve of the little shits! To not be able to read your mind! Don't they know it's Monday and for the normal adult, wading through the bull of getting dressed, traveling in the cold and trying to arrange our thoughts into some semblance of intelligent thinking takes all of our energy?!

  2. Haha, that made ME feel awkward and I'm just reading it...

  3. This is fantastic! I forwarded it to my mother to read too. She really did not want to go back to teaching after her long holiday break. I feel for you here, Duke. Summer's just around the corner.

  4. Duke,

    Or, as we say in the Gilbert & Sullivan world "Dee-yuuuke," this story amused and petrified me. It made me realize that being an actor as a damn sight less scary than being a teacher. You're a brave boy, you are.

    And thank you, very, very much, for the nod on 20somethings. You're a gentleman and a scholar. Even if that doesn't always show up on the white-board.

    --Mr. Apron

  5. Ahahaha.

    Pro teacher. Almost makes me want to teach...

    Did you say PEN by the way? Not CHALK?

    WTF! Don't schools use BLACKBOARDS any more?