Back to Black

March 16, 2016 at 4:58 pm (Uncategorized)

In October 2008 while completing my teacher training, I wrote on this blog the following:

But there are others [teachers] who have a permanent look of disgust on their face, are brutal and cruel to kids and whenever others are out of earshot will tell you that frankly they hate kids and you should get out of the profession while you can. I just have to wonder – why the hell are they still there?  Do they think they can’t get another job in the “real world”? Do they see themselves as some sort of martyrs to the cause? Or do they just stick around for the job security and the pension? I hope I never become one of them or if I do I’ll have the good sense to get away from the job and leave teaching to those who can inspire kids rather than take out their bad humour on them.

Well it is just over eight years later and I am leaving the teaching profession and those words fill me with confidence that I have indeed made the right choice rather than sit around becoming one of those teachers I hated.

Since I plan to link to this on Facebook and most of you who are going to read this probably don’t know that I have ever been much of a blogger I feel a quick bit of context is needed.  If you don’t want the context and are just going “Huh?  why is Caroline quitting teaching?” feel free to scroll down past the next two paragraphs.

Many moons ago, before I was a teacher, I used to be very active in the Conservative party. In 2005 I ran for National Chairman of it’s youth movement Conservative Future and as part of that campaign I started a blog as it was very much the done thing for any campaign in 2005.  Anyway I didn’t win (and I shall refrain from commenting on anyone involved in that for legal reasons) but I carried on blogging.  Writing is a process which I truly enjoy and I have always done whether anyone can read it or not.  I have an embarrassing collection of writing all the way back to my childhood – a lot of which is on floppy disk and hopefully not accessible by anyone as that series of Mills and Boon esque stories set in Roman times I wrote during my GCSE Latin days is frankly a) appalling and b) worryingly explicit.  In 2007 I really hit my peak and wrote  over 200 posts in that year and developed a small but loyal following.  I was even privileged enough to make it into Iain Dale’s book of most influential political bloggers (albeit rather far down the list but still).  However as I started my teacher training it dawned on me that I could not feasibly continue to blog for a number of reasons but the key ones being time and the fact that should any of my students / employers find it, life would become particularly difficult.   So I stopped but missing writing I cherished a hope that I could keep writing anonymously as an undercover teacher. This is when I set up the blog you are currently on.  Sadly the aforementioned factor of time meant that I never got round to keeping that going.

So that sort of brings us back to the present day where as I have quit my job as a teacher and only have a paltry three weeks left in the role I am free to indulge my desire to ramble on about my views on anything and everything in a carefree style so I am resurrecting this blog.  Why this one rather than the original Caroline Hunt blog spot of the 2007 heyday?  Well frankly my views have changed rather a lot since those days and I do not fancy putting the link back up until I’ve checked through it for the worst of what I said. Also some of it actually may be legally wobbly these days considering how many of my former CF colleagues have faced or are facing varying allegations.

Teaching – its a funny old game.  Well on a day to day basis it is.  In the last eight years I am confident that I have laughed every day in at least one lesson because working with young people is frankly aweseome.  Today I was taking a GCSE Sociology class through an explanation of what the budget is and how the coverage of it varied from newspaper to newspaper dependent on their political leanings.  The class followed attentively to what a budget was, asked intelligent questions about whether that affected how much their parents got in tax credits and how much the school got funded but they also had one other burning question, “Miss, is George Osborne related to Sharon Osborne?” – at which point I cracked up laughing picturing that family reunion. I love talking to students and I love introducing them to new ideas and frankly I have had so much fun in lessons over the last eight years.

But that is obviously the side that I will miss and is not the reason I am leaving.  The reason I am leaving is that teaching in lessons is the tip of the iceberg you can see above the water.  It is what people think teachers do all day and if that was the case sign me up for another eight years. But none of that happens without individuals sacrificing their evenings, weekends and holidays to prepare those lessons, mark the work generated by those lessons, reteach those lessons to students who were not in the first time or just did not get it the first time, adjust those lessons for the students who have different needs in the classroom, create model answers to the exam questions done in those lessons, design meaningful homework that will reinforce the lesson, mark the homework done after the lesson, create a model answer for the homework done after the lesson and then finally create data tracking spreadsheets to record all of the above.  And that’s just a bogstandard classroom teacher – do not get me started on what happens once you take on a role on top of your day to day teaching.  It has to be done, it should be done but to do it to the standard that students deserve under the current conditions means you can have no true work life balance and I do not feel any individual should sustain that level of work for their entire working life.  So I’m out.

I leave with the utmost respect and admiration for my colleagues and former colleagues who are still doing this day in and day out and as long as you are still happy and healthy please keep doing it as long as you can.   But please remember what I wrote eight years ago. When you no longer love what you are doing and you are not making those kids feel inspired every day then it’s time to move on and make space for those who still have the ability to do so.

 

 

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Roll on Half Term

October 18, 2009 at 6:05 pm (Uncategorized)

Near the Lake

“Great holidays” – that is the most comment response I get when I tell people I’m a teacher.  Usually followed by how jammy it is that we get around 12 weeks off a year.  And it does indeed on the face of it sound jammy.  However if teachers didn’t get that much holiday I don’t think there would be any teachers.  At least not any emotionally stable ones.

This week alone I have worked 60 hours and my timetable is a few hours under most peoples.  However I know there are  plenty of people like bankers and lawyers who work just as many hours and aren’t compensated by statutory regular holidays.  What do I do that they don’t that means I get to have this much holiday?  I am emotionally drained, I am at the beck and call of 150 (that’s just the ones I teach regularly) 11 – 19 year olds five days a week for nine hours at a time.  I deal with tantrums, emotions, crying 11 year olds and swearing screaming 16 year olds and I can’t escape them or avoid the situation – I have to be the adult and resolve the situation.

I’m not complaining – I chose this job and I adore it but by 3:45 on a weekday I normally feel like I’ve run a marathon and I don’t think that’s just because I’m an NQT, everyone else in my department seems to be the same.  I’m so snowed under with marking and reports and all the other endless list of things we have to do but I’m not having a nervous breakdown because I know the week after next I will be off in the countryside, relaxing, recuperating and catching up on anything thats still not been done.  If it wasn’t for half term I think I’d be curled up in a ball in the corner of my living room screaming that they can’t make me go to work.

So next time you mock a teacher for having an easy life with their holidays stop and think – would you rather have good teachers or gibbering wrecks looking after your children.

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One week down

September 13, 2009 at 5:38 pm (Uncategorized)

So one week down.  I’ve survived.  Just.  Some of my lessons were so boring I had trouble staying awake.  Not feeling quite as fabulous a teacher as I did in June.  In fact I’m feeling downright rubbish.  But the kids have stayed in their seats and written down stuff so I guess I’ve achieved something.  Which is more than can be said for my ability to socialise with the teachers.  I know we teachers are an odd bunch – that’s why I like teaching.  It feels normal to be odd.  However nobody seems to be odd in the way I am.  I’m starting to see how lonely and isolated teaching can feel.  You go off to your lessons and nobody else is with you.  You could easily get through the whole day talking to no-one but the students.  Luckily they are the entertaining ones.

Anyway this is a very boring post because that’s how my life is at the moment – boring.  So boring I’m sitting listening to the Great Western Customer Service line ring endlessly on my mobiles loudspeaker.  They don’t even have hold music or your in a queue messages.  Just “ring ring” endlessly over and over and over.  Until you get cut off.  Bleak.

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Oops

September 5, 2009 at 11:26 pm (Uncategorized)

So I didn’t do too well at updating the blog last year.  What can I say?  PGCE was busy and stressful.  Whereas of course this year is going to be a breeze…yeah right!  NQTdom is terrifying – as of next week I shall be teaching classes, all on my own, with total responsibility for making sure they shut up and learn.  I’m bricking it.

I remember how I felt the first time I taught last year.  I was scared, feeling sick and absolutely terrified it would all go wrong.  In general it didn’t.  Disaster didn’t really strike.  Sure it was rough at times but I got through it.  But that was the thing – I wasn’t their teacher.  There was invariably someone else in the room or at least down the corridor so when they got out of hand there was somebody else to back me up.  Now I have a job at a very rough school and I have loads of key stage 3 classes as well as my A-Level students who are going to run rings around me.  How do you deal with rioting year 9’s when youu don’t even know their names!  By the end of next week I should have an answer to that.

Anyway I intend a weekly update from now on.  With any luck that shouldn’t be too ambitious.  By it’s very nature the NQT year is going to be a lot more solitary so I’m going to have to rant somewhere.  By the way – all those horrible PGCE people I was bitching about turned out to be some of the best friends I ever made so I’m not going to go with my first judgement of hating most people at my new school.  I’m sure they’ll turn out to be lovely and fascinating.  Here’s hoping anyway.

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Where is Time Going?

November 9, 2008 at 5:47 pm (Uncategorized)

Red Tape

I cannot believe I haven’t posted since 21st October.  I keep thinking it was only a few days ago and therefore it doesn’t matter that much.  Sadly time seems to be slipping away from me now faster than complaints about Russell Brand are flying in to the BBC.   As you may have guessed this means I’ve started teaching a few lessons now.  And by few that is all I mean.  I’m teaching half my timetable, which is itself half of a normal teachers timetable.  God knows how anyone is meant to plan that many lessons and mark all that work.  I’m barely coping with what I have.  But then again I suppose teachers don’t always have to submit lesson plans 48 hours in advance, or write lesson evaluations after every lesson, or spend ages filing all that inforation in a specific file for college, or working on pointless essays about pedagogy or doing stupid school based studies.

Ahem – rant got ahead of me there sorry.  But you see my point. I’m loving the teaching and the lesson planning and marking is arduous but I can do it (unlike spellinng arduous which is giving me real hassle) and I really enjoy it.  All the PGCE bits that college demands we do is just seeming to get on the way.  By all means constantly supervise my lessons and observe me all day long.  I need all the feedback and constructive criticism I can get.  If I didn’t have that I’d be drowning.  But why on earth do I have to write stupid bloody essays all weekend on stupid bloody theories written by stupid bloody educational theorists.

This is where being in the system rather than a commentating political junkie shows you the difference.  A year ago I would have been ranting about the shocking state of Secondary school teachers and demanding they be forced to write Masters levels essays on pedagogy to prove they know what they’re doing.  Now I am of a very different mood.  Watch teachers in their classrooms all you like to check how they’re doing but get out of their way and let them get on with their bloody job.

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Obama is NOT a Muslim Goddamit!

October 21, 2008 at 7:16 pm (Uncategorized)

I realise relying on 12 year olds version of events is no exactly reliable.  In fact one of them the other day was asked who the running mates of McCain and Obama were and responded by saying Mrs Bush and Jackie Kennedy.  However what really shocked me was when the candidates religion came up.  Someone said Barack Obama was Muslim.  It was explained to them that no he wasn’t.  At this point the kids – notice the plural there, not just the one who said it originally but a whole group of them – suddenly became aggressively assertive that he was.  They then had to be reminded that probably teacher knows a little bit more than them.

Is this how prevalant the Republican smear campaign is?  They’ve managed to convince English comprehensive kids of their lies? (Not that I’m saying calling somebody a muslim is  a smear but we all know why the Republicans don’t mind dumb floating voters think it since a vast minority of americans seem to see the words Muslim and Terrorist as synonymous).  Or is it not that.  I genuinely doubt that any of the US presidential campaign has saturated these children’s minds much.  Instead a black man with a vaguely exotic sounding name is just naturally a Muslim to them.  However it is still odd that they were so vehement in their belief that he must be Muslim.

Anyway thank god we have CNN to set the record straight:

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For the Love of The Job

October 20, 2008 at 6:54 pm (Uncategorized)

I’m starting to notice two distinct type of teachers in the staffroom.  Everyone at some points whines about the pupils but there definitely seems to be those who moan but clearly love the job and those who moan and you start to question if they really want to be there.

I know that for me – having been in the profession all of five minutes – it’s a bit arrogant to judge othher teachers but you have to question when faced with such a wealth of pessimism from somme individuals.  Plenty of teachers in between the moaning and swearing and commplaining will show you that they really love what they do – through enthusiasm in a lesson, a kind word about their students or even just some sage advice to us noobs.  But there are others who have a permanent look of disgust on their face, are brutal and cruel to kids and whenever others are out of earshot will tell you that frankly they hate kids and you should get out of the profession while you can.

I just have to wonder – why the hell are they still there?  Do they think they can’t get another job in the “real world”? Do they see themselves as some sort of martyrs to the cause? Or do they just stick around for the job security and the pension?

I hope I never become one of them or if I do I’ll have the good sense to get away from the job and leave teaching to those who can inspire kids rather than take out their bad humour on them.

In some ways you could liken these teachers to Gordon Brown – don’t like the job, nobody wants you there anymore and it’s causing endless stress but for some reason they just won’t give up.

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I’m getting old

October 14, 2008 at 6:57 pm (Uncategorized)

The lack of general knowledge amongst teenagers terrifies me! Today I saw a group of year 11’s be given a simple quiz about what’s going on in the news.  This was not obscure politics or trivia but straightforward stuff that anybody who has glanced at the Metro or seen a tv screen would know.  However they struggled with every question bar those on X Factor (actually that was only easy for those who were bothering to take part).

But what really scared me was when I started trying to give them hints to make the answers incredibly easy to get.  One group was trying to work out which country Joerg Haider was from.  They’d guessed Germany. In fairness this demonstrates these kids are by no means thick.  They’d worked out it was a German sounding name.  They just lack the general knowledge to know any better.  So in an effort to help them I gave them the clue that it was the same country that Arnold Schwarzenegger was from.  Their response?  “The Californian Governor?”.

See on the one hand I’m very pleased they know who the Governor of California is. However on the other hand I’m saddened that I’ve turned into one of those old people who thinks of Ronald Reagan as an actor not a politician.  These kids see Arnie as a serious politician, not The Terminator!!  What sad world they must live in.  So just for the kids I give you the man himself (oh and in case you were wondering they changed their answer to Norway – go figure)

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Weeping

October 13, 2008 at 7:01 pm (Politics) (, , )

Well it’s happened already.  I have had my first bout of tears of the PGCE.  Not because of the coursework or because of the kids or because of the workload.  No just simply because I’m exhausted.  I’m so tired from travelling to my placement school (not too handily close) and being on my feet all day. It doesn’t help that I had commitments all weekend that meant I’ve had no time to myself.  So I’ve ended up in a ridiculous argument with my mate and weeped relentlessly.  I suspect I’m probably right in thinking this won’t be the first flood of lachrymosity of the year.

Nevermind – it could be  worse.  I could have saving in an Icelandic bank.

Of course the continuing meltdown of global finances is no laughing matter – except of course in the fact that the only way to cope with complete disaster is to see the inherant humour.  Gordon Brown seems to have managed to position himself as the saviour of the world for a day or two.  However the bank shares continue to plummet and Europe’s leaders may have agreed in principle to do the same as the UK, but what they do in practice is completely unpredictable – you only need look at Angela Merkel to see that.  It would be churlish to wish failure on Brown just because I don’t want to see him go up in the polls.  However nobody should forget that his massive borrowing means that the budget really doesn’t have the strength to hold up this massive bailout in the long run.

With all the pressure building up and the massive immplications that hang in the balance I should think I’m not the only person having a little cry in the corner tonight.

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WTF!!!!

October 6, 2008 at 8:52 pm (Uncategorized)

Third time lucky!  I keep writing this post and saving it and publishing it but WordPress is against me.  This time I’m going to CTRL C it to make quadruply sure because there is no way I’m writing it again.

*sigh*

Alright super short verion

a) Don’t let american teach englih – how is a kid meant to spell aluminium if the teacher can’t pronounce it.

b) Irony of NUTter demanding we strike followed by teachers gleefully wasting taxpayers money on supplies

c) Evening Standard headline on Friday, up around London all weekend, “Mandy back to rescue Labour”.  Aces 🙂

You should have read the last two versions of this post.  They were brilliant.

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