The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

That'll teach me. In a fit of sleepless toothache induced fury, I repeated myself rather loudly at the Avenging Angel who allocates all the cover for absent teachers yesterday.
Bang. As many hours of silent still invigilation as she can put onto my timetable.

One hour at a time of standing motionless, idly focussing on bowed head after bowed head - it's not pleasant. It's somewhat better than having to prepare, teach, interact, but your legs and brain suffer somewhat for it.
Invigilating leaves your mind weirdly blank. Strangely filled with calm images of dusty floors unswept, of clawed grooves on the boards of a stage rimed with forty years of kit bags and grubby hands.

I watch the other teachers. I don't associate with them, mostly - it's a fairly firm belief of mine that most teachers who entered the profession in the seventies, eighties and early nineties did so to pursue a life of showing off. Of achieving the social success they couldn't manage to pull off in an adult environment.
Mister S swaggers past, heels clicking noisily on the floor, keys attached to a clanking carabiner at his hips as he walks. His ostentation as he slams the door, clatters down stage right, self importantly rustles his blank papers or hitches up his expensively tailored trousers all scream self-regard.

I know he didn't start out in the job like this. He's become the job, the keys, the walk, the surety that he is observed, that his movements matter. As if teachers don't grow more or less wiser with age, they just become more and more Important.

I shift from one leg to the other, stifle a yawn. Wonder if he knows.

I leave the hall at the bell in a trance like state - my fourteen year olds, desperate to know their examination results can't bring me out of it, can't rile me with disappearances, truculence or secret mp3 players, so relax, bored byme, into the work I've set.

I wonder, too, if the intense levels of interaction of inner city teaching are contagious, not just debilitating?
I wonder if they're addictive, if ten weeks after I leave here, I'll be looking for troublesome teeens on streetcorners in the south pacific, wanting some trouble, wanting to relax myself by solving things, by being important.