The reason that I was sleeping early last night was because my agency has made me a supply teacher. Some explanation: A few weeks back I signed up with an agency which supplies substitute teachers to schools which need them. Earlier this week they finally got back the last of my references. As a graduate, I can teach secondary (11+) and post-secondary education because there is a chronic shortage of teachers, so graduates with no teacher training are able to go in as "instructors" and substitute for teachers who know how to teach. So this agency called me last night and asked me if I had plans for today. The amount of money they offered for a day's work convinced me to clear my schedule. Of course, I had to catch the seven am bus in order to get there. Thus the stupidly early night.
The school itself is a new inner-city school. I thought was under no illusions about what I was letting myself in for. This is why I was through my first cigarette before I got inside. I was naive in my expectations.
Though I went to bed early, I didn't actually sleep. I got there early, sat through the staff room briefing and that was the first sign of what was to come. Most secondary schools (as I have been told) have a list of maybe ten pupils who are suspended from school. There were over thirty here. There were four of the seven strong maths department away being covered by various teachers. I was told quite frankly that as long as I stopped the kids from rioting, I had succeeded. I had a full timetable, even down to having to take the morning register. That and the first two classes were uneventful, (or as uneventful as someone who has spent a grant total of no time at all observing people teaching could be), because the kids knew what they were doing. It was easy stuff that they could follow and didn't need me to help more than occasionally so I had time to stop them rioting.
That all went to hell when I got the class of first years. It must be bourne in mind that there were no prepared lessons today. These first years had been without a teacher who knew how to do more than add up for more than two weeks. None of them knew what they were supposed to do, and all I could do was try to stop them running around killing each other. These kids are all at different points in what they are supposed to be doing, they don't care and it doesn't appear that the staff care either. Lunch consisted of three cigarettes, two cups of black coffee and part of a sandwich.
Of course, the day just got better and better. Bottom set second years. The set where the kids with behavioural disorders are put because the rest of the staff cannot find anyone qualified to deal with them away from the rest of the class. Add those in with the kids who do not want to learn, and those that have real difficulty learning and haven't had anyone helping them for far too long. It was a long, hard battle getting them to sit down and stop beating the shit out of each other. The lack of any kind of idea of what I was supposed to be teaching them made any kind of lesson impossible. I did fortunately get a teaching assistant to help deal with the worst of them, and between us we kept control. Finally, fourth year bottom set. Same problem, but these include the guy looking out of the window every minute to see if the guy he beat the shit out of at lunch is coming in hunting for revenge. I lost it for a couple of seconds, cussing them out about staying back until they had all completed the work I set. Fortunately, the head of maths backed me up. After that, some of them wanted to work, and I was able to help them out. Again, I'm the first person who knows maths that they have seen for two weeks. The only redeeming point of the class. The rest of them were just as bad as the second years.
Some people enjoy the challenge, I am informed. I am not one of them. I would go back to the school because no matter how much the kids make me want to smoke fifty cigarettes at once while beating them to a bloody pulp, screaming "Learn, you useless bastards"... it's not all their fault. It's an inner-city school, all the classes are ranked by average level of ability. The ones in the bottom groups don't want to learn and the teachers they have had picked up on that. They've tried but it hasn't worked and the teachers have fucked off out of the system, leaving the education of these kids—some of whom can do it, they just haven't been taught in a way that makes them realise it—to people like me that know the shit but don't know how to control them. What a fucking system.
I'm not going to give up, but I ain't going back to that school again right away.
: Stupid thing is, today is the day that the family were going on the yearly shopping trip to Meadowhall.
: I now know why it is impossible to quit when teaching.
EDIT: In other today-related news, I not only got three rejection letters from companies (one of which didn't even capitalise my fucking name), but the job for which I had had two interviews recently and had written that program for rang me on the bus home and told me that it had come down to me and one other guy. They picked the other guy.
: Those talking to me while I was doing it may have heard me tell of it, but that it was for a friend. I didn't want to jinx the job.