I don't remember my first days in Rainbow, standing in front of a classroom, and actually teaching--probably too involved with worry about doing the right thing. Then, after time, I learned to relax, enjoy what I was doing and have fun -- there are so many stories I could write --but I think this one is important - especially for anyone out there who may be interested in becoming a teacher....It's kinda funny!
When I first arrived I was given Form 8 (Year 8) as my form room (home room) and I was responsible for their schooling and attitude, to the best of my ability. This class of students was a total mixture of very bright students, some naughty ones, and some who were a bit lost and needed help. They had, as a group, all been passed on together all through primary school, and now, me, a Yank was supposed to guide them. A Foreigner in a foreign land....(I was sure that this decision was done on purpose by those in the school 's administration - just to see if I could handle them!)
Before each class, the students were made to line up neatly in two rows, and upon the teacher's entrance into the classroom, they could then discreetly enter and take their seats. I had a problem with this. In the Winter in Rainbow it could be very cold, and classrooms were only entered at the sound of the bell, so some of these kids could be standing around waiting for some time....I couldn't see a problem with letting them just go into the classroom--I trusted them. But both I and the students were disciplined several times because I didn't follow policy. So...once in the classroom, I would get the students to grab their jackets or scarves and we would run to the back oval and do 2 laps of the oval just to warm up, especially first thing in the morning, it was very cold! The only way I could get their brains to work in the classrooms was to wake up their bodies and make them warm--we had some good class sessions after those runs...but the powers that would be were watching me!
I also made it a rule in my classroom that I was not going to raise my voice. If the students could not hear me talking, then they would have to be quiet, or make sure that whoever was making the noise would be quiet. It turned out to be a fairly successful exercise, and I was happy with how the class was beginning to pull itself together. I was getting some good reports from some of the other subject teachers, about my Form, and I was beginning to think that progress was being made.
Then I would have a set-back. I used to say to my Form when it was my turn to teach them, (English and Drama) that they would eventually 'Drive me crazy' if they didn't just learn to be quiet and try to listen and learn. Sometimes they would really listen and we'd communicate, and sometimes it just wasn't going to happen. I think I might have said to them that they would drive me crazy one day, and maybe said it a few times! One especially bad day was about 3 months into my teaching year, and I was scheduled to teach in one of the science classrooms. I didn't like this room--It had a stage area and a podium for the teacher, with a revolving blackboard, and the students sat at a distance in the lower level of the classroom--not conducive at all to my style of teaching. Well this is what happened:
"If you don't stop talking and interrupting each other, I am going to have to raise my voice and you know that I don't like to do that!"
"Ian, What did I just say?!"
"Don't know, Miss."
"Why would that be, Ian"
"Couldn't hear ya , Miss."
"Trevor! Stop that--alright everyone take five--I've just about had it today!"
The underlying naughtiness in the room that day was obvious. I knew I wasn't going to win. The naughty group was leading the class and I was having a fair job trying to control them. I stood at this distance on this stupid podium stage area, and saw what was going on.....I was becoming angry and suddenly....I yelled!
"Alright! Stop it! Stop it now! You are driving me crazy! I have tried and tried with you kids, and you just don't care! I am now going crazy!! I hope you are happy!"
I stood there looking at myself yelling at the class and started to laugh. I could see me standing in the front of the classroom on this stupid podium stage yelling and losing it, and meanwhile the me in the back of the classroom watching me just cracked up--she started laughing at me so much that I started laughing as me on the podium stage..get it?
The room went quiet. Really quiet.
I know I had lost them. I thought to myself, 'Oh great! Now you've done it--you'll never be in control again--you've really blown it!'
I stepped down from the podium stage, and ordered the classroom to be quiet, and quickly headed to the teacher's lounge for counselling or some help and understanding, but arrived to an empty lounge so stood at the sink and drank 2 full glasses of water, and started the long walk back to my classroom. I figured I had really lost it all, and that my days with this Form were numbered. They had finally broken me, just like they had with all their previous teachers. I felt humiliated and defeated.
I entered the classroom to silence. Complete silence. Total silence. The bell rang, signalling the students to go to their next class. They just sat there looking at me. I looked at them, obviously not with a happy face now. I excused them and they started to pack their books and leave. In the back of the classroom there were 2 girls who still sat at their desks. One was crying and the other was close to tears.
"Now what is wrong with you girls?" I asked, somewhat still a bit hurt and upset in my attitude.
"We are all so sorry Miss! We really didn't want to make you crazy! We really didn't!"
I smiled, and patted their heads and said that probably I would recover, and urged them onto their next class....
Time passed...and with time my Form became one of the best and most productive Forms there. They and I had learned a lesson -- a people lesson....and after "Miss' crazy day" all of us learned how to listen and work together...there were some great achievers in that class!