Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Just about sums up my week!

There are some names that can be pronounced in more than one way. If you have a name like this then the chances are that people will get your name wrong. I teach a couple of young ladies with names like this and, believe me, I try really hard to remember how to say their names correctly. But I teach 270 different pupils every week. In some classes there are pupils whose names I still struggle to match to their faces. These are the quiet, well behaved pupils who get on with their work without causing any trouble, the pupils who really do deserve a lot of my attention but don't get enough of it because I have to deal with the the trouble makers. But that is beside the point, I have a couple of these pupils who get really upset if I get the pronunciation wrong. Which is somewhat amuses me as none of the pupils seem to be able to remember that I am called "Mrs Bridgewater" and not just "Miss!"

Today "Little Miss Unpronounceable Name" (LMUN) comes to me at the end of our lesson to ask for an appointment for the year eight parents' evening later this week. The pupils have had since the first day of term to make these appointments, and my sheet is now fully booked. Three hours of 5 minute appointments from 5.30 until 8.30pm.

LMUN: Well, I s'pose my mum and dad will have to see you at 8.30pm then.
Me: No, because I leave at 8.30pm (wishful thinking, the evening will over run)
LMUN (whines): But it is only five minutes...
Me: I'm sorry, but I will have been at school from 7.30am, you've had 2 weeks to make an appointment, if your parents have any specific questions they can email me or 'phone me
LMUN: That's not fair. You are paid to do this. You have to stay!
Me (sitting on my hands, smiling through gritted teeth): I think, LMUN, that you better run along to your next lesson.....

I really think that this sums up my week. Pupils have a very inflated sense of their own importance and are always ready to quote their 'rights' - their right to have a mobile 'phone and use it whenever they want, their right to eat and drink whenever they want - despite the school rules quite clearly stating that they are not allowed to eat in a science lab. Their belief that it is appropriate to argue the toss over every instruction that they are given. I teach a group of year nine pupils who are causing problems all around the school. The senior leadership team have stepped in with their solution. We are to give the main trouble makers extra responsibilities to 'increase their self worth' and to reward them for even the smallest step along the way to behaving appropriately.

The balance of power in schools seems to have shifted a very long way since I was at school. Then we were expected to open doors for anyone older than us, stand when a member of staff entered the room, do what we were told to do without argument etc. We respected our teachers, and if a teacher had ever had cause to 'phone home about our behaviour I think we would have been in big trouble when we got home. Now a lot of parents seem to be of the opinion that teachers routinely lie about the behaviour of their children in school. Believe me, the admin time involved in recording poor behaviour, setting detentions (which means the teacher giving up their own time to look after them) and the paperwork mean that if a 'phone call home is made or a detention is set then the child has 99.9 times out of a hundred done something to deserve being there. (E.g. I set homework last week for a class of 32, due in today, 7 pupils handed it in, 8 pupils turned up for the lunch time detention to complete the homework that occupied 20 minutes of my lunch break which means I now have 17 after school detention slips to write up, 17 parents to contact and half an hour of my after school time to give up for them).

It really is just as well I love my job!

Some of my Facebook friends may have been waiting on a ranty blog post, and think that the above is really rather mild mannered and rant free. That's because I took the sensible option of going for a run before posting anything yesterday. I was far too angry yesterday at pupils who were unwilling to take their GCSE coursework seriously that putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) was probably a bad idea. Thank heavens for the open road!

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