Thursday, 19 January 2012

Where to begin...

So it's been a while since I made a blog post about teaching Design and Technology to school kids. About a year and a half it seems according to the Blogger dashboard. In that time I've been round the world on a bit of a jolly, lived in the country for a few months and now I'm back in London and teaching for what seems like an eternity. Long enough in fact for all that other shit to seem like I watched it on the telly.

I could tell you exactly how long its been but I am so tired I can barely see (in fact the word "see" doesn't seem right and now as I type it and I'm doubting it's spelling). This is how it feels during term time. Having to pay a gas bill seems like climbing the north face of the Eiger. Having to spell three letter words is a physical challenge.

I have been meaning to get back into this blog business since I started again in October, but there lies the rub; teaching and extra curricular activity of pretty much every type don't really get along.

I am now teaching in a different part of London. The demographic of the new school is super diverse. I could provide statistics of just how diverse it is but then I may give away which school it is and I don't want to do that. I'd have to kill you. Not in a "i'm a psychotic teacher on the rampage" kind of way. Just in a "quietly taking care of business" type thing.

The kids are working class, multi-ethnic and attend a state school. They are very similar to my last school in Newham. I like them. Mostly. The lingo has moved on a bit but not massively. " Everything is still "long" and they still say "why'd you do that for?" but now the call each other "fam" to express kinship and say things like "I am not entertainin' that" .

My new school is well run and my department is really cool. It was good to get a job here.

Can I stop summarising now?


Ok so why have I started writing again today? I'm not sure really. I've been back from the xmas holidays for almost two weeks and have been in school at 6:30 am every day (that's my alarm going off at 5am folks) and haven't left before five in the evening yet. I've been trying hard to be Mr. Superorganised and I have to admit it's been going pretty well but the dawning realisation that I am still way behind with all of the stuff that I am meant to be doing is hitting home. It's basically impossible.

Today was a bad day. Not in a classroom discipline, kids being bastards kind of day just things didn't really work out and I found myself chasing my tail and getting nowhere. However I did discover one of the less often used behaviour management tricks. I have today dubbed it the Mallet of Justice.

I told my wife about this when I got home and she was a bit horrified but I think it was a valid thing to do. Before you call the police no I didn't bludgeon and kids to death in a horrendous fit of blood letting. I'll explain....

I have just taken on a new set of classes (we have a carousel system in technology where classes rotate to each of the individual subjects). It happens three times a year. The first couple of encounters with a new class are crucial to establish a pattern of behaviour and determine who controls the room. Obviously it needs to be me, but less experienced teachers often make the mistake of being too easy too soon. I have made this mistake many a time too and it's irreversible. Once you have lost them they are gone.

So week one went well. It was tedious as I outlined my expectations and rules and such like for every lesson for the week but vitally important. All the classes were good as gold. This is normal. They are sizing you up. Garnering info on their new adversary for later use. Week two I thought may reveal some more challenging behaviour but it took until period 5 on Thursday for this to present itself.

My year nines came in and were clearly hyped up and ready to royally fuck about for an hour on the new teachers watch. Now I had had a pretty shitty day up until that point and was not in the mood to take it and so knowing that it was crucial to get control I asked for calm and for them to sit down and get on with the lesson. This fell totally on deaf ears and the noise and rowdiness continued. Now on other occasions I may have stood there and waited for calm for a long time, or raised my voice increasingly loudly or sent some students out of the room or threatened detentions or all that other stuff. Today however I knew that I had to nip it in the bud straight away with an attention grabbing action. Bring out the big guns if you will.

So I calmly walked over to the tool cupboard and took out my keys and opened up. Then I reached inside and pulled out the large wooden mallet normally using for chiselling. It's quite a comedy looking thing really.

I calmly walked back to the front of the room where my demonstration table is and without saying anything I smashed it down on the table as hard as I possibly could creating the biggest, most almighty bang imaginable.

I swear some of the students were actually lifted out of their seats.

Let's be clear that this is not normal for my lessons and nor is it a sustainable tactic for behaviour management. That class however are not going to try it on for a while and we can get on with the important things that need to be done. You know.... like learning shit.

Towards the end of the lesson I had a good laugh with them and they got loads done. The mallet of justice prevailed.

So that's about all for now. I have broken my silence and hopefully will make this a bit more regular. I would just like to close by saying one more thing.  Michael Gove is a cunt.



Gwawr Sam said...

Thor OTDB you are from now on.

Gwawr Sam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex said...

Brilliant. I liked the bit were you said "cunt".

booda said...

michael gove IS a cunt
nice writing teacher - makes me feel ridiculous for complaining about my 7 hour contact time followed by a 2 hour meeting, wednesday. because apart from wednesdays its not too bad.

keep it up :)