Working hard for the... experience?

So much for being gainfully employed. I'm working all this week, but won't get paid for it until August. Or September. Whichever comes later, I think. I'm not even really a teacher this week, I'm just doing supply, which is subbing in American. I've met one class which I adore and today had two classes I didn't like much at all. There could be a slight issue of bias in that the adorable class is going to be mine next year. The unlikeables are leaving for secondary school in a week. They're full of attitude, swagger, fear and hormones. Not like my little dears next year.

I have seen the classroom I'll have next year. It's got to be the smallest in the school. It's pathetically cramped. I can only hope my students don't grow very much over the summer and learn to sit still a bit better than they do now. There is just no room to get up and wander about.

My budget to spruce up the classroom has also been announced. To my friends who are teachers and have their own budgets, I apologise. I don't mean to make you crazy with envy, but I will lay it bare. I am getting £20 pounds to spend on the classroom. For the year. I know! Awesome, right?! My mind is racing with all the possibilities. I could by a map of the world! And some... pencils! Maybe, if I am careful with my pennies, I might even get a little pencil sharpener, too. Those can be very handy.

Actually, they're critical. In my admittedly limited experience, pencil sharpeners and erasers (called rubbers here. Really.) are like cigarettes in jail. They're highly valuable and can be used as currency. In my last school the boys would smuggle them around in their socks. I kid you not. Everyone was so afraid the rubbers would be snatched away, they snatched them as soon as they were within sight. The irony was completely lost on them.

Now I'm going into a school where the kids really can't afford their own pencils and erasers. How does any teacher make it out of there with their salary intact? It's all I can do not to bring a kid home with me! I've already got my eye on one little boy. You know, just in case his mum forgets to pick him up one day. I wouldn't put it past her, actually.

I'm off to bed. Can't afford to make any dire mistakes like I did today. So embarrassing. Must fight off pariah-status gained from today's transgression. Think of me.

(oh, you want to know what I did that was so terrible? Okay, I'll tell you. Brace yourself. I wore jeans.)


Hiya again.
Granted, I was being *generous* when I said Mom was working a second shift and Dad was sleeping... sometimes Dad's in jail or MIA (cringe). But also, and this is what I actually wanted to share, sometimes Dad's doing all he can to kick a kid's butt through high school. There was a kid at a special ed meeting where, per routine, a teacher asked, Okay, what are you doing after graduation? The kid shrugged and said he'd go into roofing like Dad. Dad, speaking through an interpreter, went (ha!) through the roof and basically expressed, Are you nuts?? Then he promptly told the kid he would put in some serious hours with his dad on some hot, hot roofs the following summer. That was one serious, impressive dad. (sniff) Those are the ones that make it all worth it. 8) K

Welcome To The Club

Now you know how I felt a quarter century ago when I began my teaching career! No worries. I'm about to finish a PhD and get a whole dollar raise! At least it's the almighty American dollar! I'm proud of you. Your bro.

thanks for the comparison notes

Wow! That was fascinating to read. See, not all is solved by leaving crappy selfishly locally-funded-schools America. I always complain that if schools were funded by the feds instead of by local residential taxes, there would be equity in schools. As it is, poor kids whose parents have no time for them get crappy schools; Cherry Creek where kids get private tutors and weekends with their parents at Martha's Vineyard get the fanciest school in Denver.

But... I've only taught at Title schools. This means that at least 30% [I think] of students are on free or reduced-price lunches (good measuring stick, eh?). So I know what you mean... getting new, unbroken pencils and erasers as gifts (especially cool, colorful ones!) is well appreciated by kids. You learn to love them at school and let them go home with a promise to do homework with an older sibling while Mom's working her second shift and Dad's sleeping. Hang in there... they'll love you. And keep writing me your comparison notes, cuz they're fascinating. Oh, and our first-year teachers don't get paid until the end of September, after having worked 6 weeks. Lovely, I know. I protest all the time and get told that it's 'just the contract.' Puh-lease. See ya. Hugs, K

Free School Meals

Our yardstick (metrestick?) is also free school dinners. At my last school, this was around 15%. It will be around 90% at the next one. Massive difference. The new school is big, which gives them some bugetary flexibility not found in smaller schools. They choose to spend this surplus on specialised teachers - PE, art, music and IT. At most schools classroom teachers have to teach these lessons themselves. Most teachers enjoy teaching some of those, not all, and sometimes the lessons can get squished into oblivion. My ideal teaching situation would be to be a specialised French teacher, but still have my own class. This is how it is done at the girls' school, and I think it works brilliantly.

I like your idea of asking a sibling to help with homework. Trouble is here, mum's not working a second shift, because neither mum or dad have bothered to get jobs. No need, really. This is the future for the kids. I really wonder what my role is in that situation. Do they really need to learn to add if they're never going to get a paycheque? How to prepare them best for the lives they'll lead? Maybe karate to learn restraint? Bricklaying, in case they ever got restless and wanted to work for a bit? It'd rarely take off as an actual occupation, but as the odd job, some of the kids might consider it.

There are some talented kids in the class as well, whose parents expect them to grow up and earn a crust. Do I just focus on those? I know the answer is of course not. I will do my level best to address the needs of each and every student. It's just hard when some teachers have been at the school ten years and have taught both father and son. These little kids are just a few years away from parenthood. Maybe we should just watch a bunch of Supernanny episodes? I haven't even started yet. It's too early to despair!


90%... that's bleak. Yikes. A recent study suggested that a school can function well for all at 50% or lower. It's supposed to be good for both high Socio-Economic Status (SES) and low. Beyond that, though, everyone starts to struggle. 8( Hugs, K