The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I thought about narrating some moments from the day, but events overwhelmed me sufficiently to punish readers with the whole of the day.

Apologies for that.

Objectives: Harry thirty sixteen year olds into adjusting their uniform.
Outcomes: I managed to mark five essays. I patently paid much attention to the pastoral needs of my students, here.
Objectives: Media Studies. Define 'conventionality' and ask students to note unconventional behaviour or controlling behaviour in 'Thelma and Louise', for a textual analysis essay (that will compare treatment of wayward females here and in 'Psycho').
Outcomes: I keep mixing up which one is Thelma, and which Louise, so all the notes are garbled beyond belief. It's forgotten in the fifteen year olds' sheer horror at having to witness Brad Pitt's langorous love scenes, anyway.
Objectives: Set up a formal letter writing task for a remedial class of fourteen year olds to complete their initial study of Macbeth for the standardised exams, and to encourage development of language by modelling Shakespearean usage.
Outcomes: To make them take it seriously, we prepared by 'ageing' manuscript paper, for the final drafts. My room utterly covered in old tea, coffee granules, crumpled brown paper, and exploded tea bags. And blood. They thought it would add realism if someone stabbed Tommy with a pencil, so we could add droplets of blood.
Break time. Console two small boys whose football I confiscated this morning. The fourteen year olds have stolen it. I recommend they come back tomorrow, when I've had a chance to do some interrogation.
Objectives: Despite an the presence of an inspector in this lesson, a top set of sixteen year olds have five essay deadlines to meet this week, plus I need to interview pairs as part of a formal examination on pre-1914 sonnets.
Outcomes: No cover available, so I have to examine the paired discussions in the same room as the students working on their essays. The two inspectors insist upon taking students out in pairs and interviewing them throughout about whether I'm a good teacher or not. Which is quiet, unintrusive and helpful. Not.
Objectives: Ask eleven year old remedial students to deliver formal spoken assignments, in a news bulletin simulation, using powerpoint slides of a fictionalised road accident involving the US president (whom some students have heard of), and Cilla Black (whom all students have heard of).
Outcomes: The classroom assistants supporting the class keep rotating without warning, then give me dirty looks if they don't know what the students are doing. (I'm simply relieved not to have back the insane teaching assistant who starts infantile rows with students and ends up actually preventing them from working.)
New TA sits on a table, legs crossed arms folded for thirty minutes, while I frantically try to do an amanuensis for around twenty different kids, until in desperation I order her to go help the crying child two feet to the left.
Crying child complains that he doesn't understand when Miss helps, and can't I help? Surrounded by eight clamouring children, I explain patiently that he is allowed to ask her questions, and he cheers up.
Lunch. Deal with two small boys who've been throwing each others' calculators in the school bins. End up telling them they're horrible and they're to go away and leave me in peace.
Objectives: Marking period. I'm shattered. I'm meant to write home to forty five sixteen year olds about raising their grade average by three points in time for Easter, plus devise a staff timetable for pair grading, and regrading, and more regrading, and then standardising of exams.
Outcomes: I eat an apple. Stare out the window at the mist setting across the distant palace. Answer random organisational questions from colleagues. Sit down with a copy of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' and a coffee. Feet up. Brain disengaged.