13.5.14

Teaching Teenagers

Now this isn't going to be a rant. I am not going to mention the Gove man. I am not going to moan and I am not going to be negative. Recently there has been some amazing you tube videos on those topics. And some heartbreaking facebook statuses. I am going to talk about teaching. And why I love it.

I got into teaching a decade ago now. I came into a bit later than other students on the course after a failed attempt to be a Public Relations executive (in short, I was crap at it). I'll be honest I kinda blagged my way onto a Religious Education PGCE course at the University of Birmingham. I turned up on the first day, with my nice new snazzy stationary not having a bloody clue what I was letting myself in for. You see I am a product of an all girls grammar school. Yes I took the 11 plus, passed and to the grand old age of 18 I went to a school where the concept of teaching was dictation, copying out of textbooks, in silence. We wore a perfect uniform. We never wagged school (OK I did once, but I was 17 and it was to go and see Take That), we never swore at teachers and we certainly didn't fight. Imagine Hogwarts. But minus the magic.


I'm not sure if this is why for my first placement my tutor sent me to an inner city school, with a pass rate at the (very) bottom end of the spectrum. First day. Someone threw a chair. Threw. A. Chair. At a teacher, not even another pupil! Oh and a student called me fat. I went home and cried. This was no grammar school, where you were a bit risky if you wore a black bobble instead of a blue one. No, this was real life (oh get me I sound all Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds).

During the course of the year I found that despite my rather privileged education I really enjoyed working with pupils who may not necessarily be the brightest, or richest. I started my career in a Black Country secondary school and have remained there ever since. And here is the reason why I love teaching. Teenagers. Yes teenagers. Whenever I tell people my job, they say "oh what age?" and I reply "11 to 16" and wait for the response of "rather you than me!". Literally every time. No-one ever says oh I bet that is fun or I bet you enjoy that. No everyone presumes that someone has forced me to be a teacher. Made me teach teenagers and I can't ever escape. Ever.


I have news for you my friends. Teenagers? Hilarious. Brilliant creatures. Sometimes they make me howl with laughter. And no I am not laughing at them. But with them. You see they are in this weird part of life where they are growing up to be young adults. But they still have glimpses of that innocence of childhood. You can one minute be talking about how they fancy Harry Styles and then in a flash they are telling you conspiracy theories about 911. Nine times out of ten they are ready and willing to learn. Yes I have seen chairs thrown, tables chucked, been told to "fuck off", had pupils puke in lessons, weep in lessons and seen many of them storm off because I dared to ask them to take their coat off. But generally? They are ace.

The reason I became a teacher is because I wanted an escape, I wanted the holidays and I wanted an easy life. I quickly found out that the paperwork is relentless, the marking is never ending and the new performance related pay is terrifying. But the reason I, and many other people stay in teaching, despite all of this, is the children. I'm not going to be all worthy and say "I want to make a difference" and yes that is a by product and a bloody brilliant one at that. But basically I am here saying it loud and proud. Yes I work in a secondary school. Yes I work with teenagers. And yes. They are amazing. So there.

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