Strained voice….and nerves

Post 13:

Wed & Thus 30 Nov/1 Dec 2016. This was a pre-booked 2 day placement in a school I have never been to before. It was part of an academy in this area of my city which has high-density population and is mostly populated with immigrants and families from other countries. In one such similar school I taught in previously (long term) there were 26 languages spoken. These placements certainly give me valuable experience of our ever changing population and I love the challenges – and education – it gives me. I think I said in a previous post that when I was doing a long term nursery placement I had to do home visits and it was fascinating to see the home lives of people trying to make their own lives here and the struggles they overcome. I only ever saw kindness, hospitality and genuine desire to start a new life. It is very easy to be influenced by the media in this country and the scare mongering which goes on but until you have a little experience of it we have no right to pre-judge or make assumptions. Anyway, a bit off topic there!!…..

I arrived at the school and parked a few hundred yards down the street (no room in the tiny car park for me!). I will be covering a Year 3 class here for 2 weeks before and after Christmas so it was thought that I would be getting to know my class here today. But there was a change of plan…. After I checked in they said that instead I would be covering a Year 2 class as the teacher was absent. I was cool with that. In actual fact I had privately thought that spending 2 days getting to know a class I would only be teaching for 2 weeks was a bit unnecessary. There were no plans left but the other Y2 teacher kindly went through a few things with me. There was also a new TA starting today so it was all new for her too. I was warned (getting to be a habit this!) that the class were “lively” and that the regular teacher was a bit ‘laid back’ with them so I was to expect a challenging day. In actual fact, as the day went on they behaved very well and tried their best with the work. It was a fairly pleasant day – whenever I had them to myself that is; because when we mixed the classes together to practice for their Christmas play, that was when all Hell was let loose. To be fair to the children, they were all mixed (4 classes) and we practised twice (1 in morning, 1 in afternoon) and the majority of children have nothing to do until they sing so it’s no wonder they get bored. However, it was all about crowd control and there were definitely some characters in the other classes!

At lunchtime I got chatting to the office staff and they said that I may well be asked back here quite a bit as “we have someone phoning in sick nearly every day”! Yikes! She also said that I would be in Year 3 tomorrow, but the other Y3 class to the one I’d be covering for 2 weeks. And that as they knew I like doing Early Years they may ask me back for that. She wasn’t kidding – before I’d gone home that night I was asked back for 2 days next week in Foundation.

Thursday: So back I went and today met the Y3 teacher I would be covering for next week. But today I was covering the other Y3 class. This teacher was in (she was working with a moderator all day) and she had kindly left me lots of notes and work. We chatted for a good half hour about lots of things. She also warned me…..well, you can probably guess can’t you? The class were “very hard work” and she warned me about certain particular children and also about their parents. It was at this point that I was shown a poster on the door which warned about physical and verbal abuse which was not to be tolerated from parents to staff, a first for me. And within 30 seconds of the door being opened a parent came up to my face and said, “See that boy there?” [pointing to a boy taking his coat off], “If he touches my daughter I’ve told her to hit him back as hard as she can. Right love?” I quickly discovered these children had a history and were not to go near each other. But children DO gravitate to each other and I had my hands full watching them all day.

A tricky day in all as I felt I kept a lid on everything whilst within class. The TA said they’d behaved much better than normal and I am always glad to hear this but today (and yesterday) I’d been losing my voice and had been having headaches so wasn’t feeling my best. The amount of energy it took to keep being positive, yet firm when I needed to be, drained me. It was again when we joined with 3 other classes in the hall for a Christmas practice that everything descended to Hell. The behaviour of the Year 3s and 4s was pretty awful. I did all I could to make my class behave but it was lost in the chaos that was going on around me. The other teachers in the hall seemed way too laid back for my liking and the practice was a shambles. Over an hour and we didn’t get finished. The children couldn’t be heard speaking and lots did not join in with singing. It was crowd control and the crowd won!! I used to like watching these Christmas practices but this year I’m being put right off!! I took my class out for a 10 minute breather and back in class read a story to see out the day.

I felt a bit down at home time. I’m sure my not feeling 100% didn’t help but thinking back I must remain positive because all the negative things happened during the play practices and were outwith my control. The lessons I taught were fine. Still, it’s made me feel a bit on edge about covering for 2 weeks. We shall see.

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