For the past four weeks, I have been teaching. Teaching is extremely different to tutoring. You can be a great tutor but that does not mean you will automatically be a great classroom teacher. I can almost imagine the hordes of teachers nodding their heads vigorously to this statement. They won’t tell you but I think they secretly despise private tutors. ‘Smart-alecs making exorbitant amounts of money by simply teaching ONE person per lesson!’
Of course, that is the major difference between tutors and teachers which means teachers have a much more difficult job. The first hurdle is classroom management. I have had to teach two Year Seven classes Maths and English since their teacher left suddenly during half-term. Now before you ‘ooo’ and ‘aaah’ over the idea of little 11-12 year olds, let me just tell you that 11-12 year old kids have definitely changed since I was in school. Their cheekiness has hit astounding levels!
When I informed them of the consequences for any misbehaviour (an hour detention after school), they laughed! Simply because no one had given them a detention for that long before. Of course, they were not laughing when I actually gave them one. (Muwhahaha!)
However, my first day did not go well. By the end of it, I was wishing I hadn’t accepted the opportunity. The kids were a headache, they never listened and they didn’t seem to want to learn. My throat was sore from shouting and a hot cup of tea did not ease the pain. As I thought about it at home whilst dreading the next day, I realised I had taken the wrong approach. In an effort to instil order and show who was boss, I had mistakenly used my voice in the wrong way. All that shouting had served no purpose except to drain my own energy, leaving me feeling like crap.
I told myself that tomorrow will be different. I will keep quiet and wait for order. Now for a person who is thrown into the teaching seat, this tactic can be quite scary. What if I have to wait all lesson? What if I never get any quiet? In the staff room the next morning, I was given advice that followed along the same lines of my new plan. Walking into the classroom, I was greeted by a wall of noise but instead of yelling for quiet, I did something different. I typed.
Yes. I typed a warning out on the smart board, took out my pen (to write the names of misbehaving pupils down) and faced the class. Within ten seconds the usually noisy atmosphere was silent. I was amazed at how well the new technique worked and by the end of the day, my mood was utterly different. In fact, now I was looking forward to the next lesson I was going to teach.
Of course, the new plan was not a magic cure. The reality is students in today’s day need to have something to keep them in check. This meant whoever misbehaved were given detentions. Unfortunately, at the school where I work, there is no central detention class so if you as a teacher give one, you will have to stay behind with the pupil after school. For me this meant unpaid work but I told myself that it will be worth it. As a young teacher, you often feel like forgiving the pupils but this is a fatal mistake. The excuses they can come out with may sound so convincing or their promises to behave if they have ‘one more chance’ may appear true but letting them off their punishment is not something you should do. Especially as a new teacher.
It has been a rocky start and I will be finishing next week but it has been a good experience. Whilst the students may play up, you also learn to bond with them and you realise what it truly means to be a teacher. Has it made me want to be a teacher even more? In actual fact, it hasn’t put me off teaching but it has certainly not become my main aim.
I would still much rather have a writing career.
Apologies for rambling on, blame the kids!
Until Next Time
A Worried Teacher/Student