The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Persistently magnificent blogger, Billy, has finally returned to teaching. Here's an extract from his first week back in the classroom: I have hit just below rock bottom - looking back I can see how I managed to talk myself up to a height that meant the only way was down but I just didn't swoop towards the ground and then pull out at the last minute - nope, I kept on going down, ploughing through two foot of tarmac, burrowing through several feet of soil, tunneling under a couple of yards of bedrock...less than three days into the job I was pontificating about the lad on my right - I was explaining how, under the new scoring system he was a definite 4 if not a 5 in the communication category level see for two hours he had been typing away - in front of him was the third chapter in a condensed version of a christmas carol..I started to explain how he had scored above 1 because he'd been working alone, a 2 would mean that he knew what he was doing, 3 could answer questions on the topic, 4 could come up with an idea, 5 he fully understood the piece of work he was typing...I pointed out that without even talking to him I knew he was scoring above a two - hell, if the bloke just said the word ghost to me I'd toy with giving him a four...and then someone in my audience asked if I meant steven the bloke sitting next to me - of course I meant steven, look, he'd been typing for over two hours, hadn't asked for help, had produced three quarters of a page in word that had no red lines no green my book steven was a four maybe a five - I just had to ask him a question...

...that's when I hit the ground...steven can't read...he can convert symbols - he knows that a is A on a keyboard...he can *see* the symbols hello and then press the keys HELLO but he can't read the word hello...nope, you can't even start to imagine how small I felt :^(.... I soared amongst the stars...janice never was explained to me that she utters one word a month to my assistant whom she has known for three years...her favourite day is when she does gardening, that's when she replies to the guy who runs the garden's question are you going to talk to me today with a no - he's known her four years and he gets one word a week...I met janice for the first time today...and true to expectations, even though I spent some time sat beside her in the morning chatting away, by lunch she had managed to even acknowledge my presence...after lunch I continued to teach sitting beside her, talking to other pupils, talking to janice...and sometime after two I got a:


...twenty minutes later I got a:


...and ten minutes after that I got a:


...three words...three fucking words...I'd like to say that it was the g-force as I was dragged out the ground, mayhap it was a bit of dirt lodged in my eye or maybe, just maybe I hit that perfect moment when you get through to someone who is untouchable...the good news is I managed to hold back the tears until I got home...
Sometimes, reading other teachers' blogs, I feel a certain deja vu. As if I'm trapped in a time loop of reading and re-reading Dave Pelzer. This stuff is real. Deeply deeply real.
If you're reading this because you have nothing much of importance to do at work, if you're currently stuck in a job where you feel you don't make a powerfully strong difference to the world, where you don't feel you're doing Something Good for humanity, try teaching.

Best job in the world.

Edit: I swear on year eights' short, collective lives that I wrote this before I read this ...