Monday, 27 August 2012

Confessions of a Window Dresser...

Earlier this evening I was sat on the sofa, gin in hand, watching Abi Branning return to Albert Square. Next Monday will almost certainly be a similar affair, but by then I will have completed the first day of my Home Area School Experience, and my journey into education will have officially begun. To suggest that I am stupendously excited to take my place in the profession of teaching would arguably be the understatement of the year, my personalised teacher’s planner is testament to that...but murmuring underneath all this excitement, all the laminating and all the post-its, is an uneasy sense that I have in fact regressed into the mind of a seven year-old, and that I’m actually just playing ‘Teachers’ with myself, rather than being a bona fide guardian of our children’s education. Perhaps I am merely window dressing the profession, rather than setting up shop.

During the last academic year, I spent two days of every week working in the incredibly successful English department of a local secondary school. During that time I created displays that Neil Buchanan (remember him?) would be proud of, I laminated paper in every size imaginable and created the most beautiful filing system for the Y8 SoW you could imagine. I also taught lessons in years 8,9 and 10, as well as designing resources for A-Level, all of which was part of a normal teacher’s life and I am hugely grateful for the experience I gained there, but there was so much going on that I didn’t see or do. I didn’t have three hours of marking to do when I got home, I didn’t have irate parents on the phone because Eden was getting too much homework, I didn’t have to give up just about every lunch time for meetings like the rest of the department did. I had the gold-leaf experience, and delightful though it was, I am worried that it has cast me somewhat adrift from what really happens this side of the desk.

' A good teacher is like a candle -
it consumes itself to light the way for others.
-Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
I doubt I’m the only one starting their PGCE this year asking ‘do I have what it takes?’, ‘Can I actually do this?’, ‘Have I got the capacity to deal with the demands of teaching?’, and throughout the summer holidays my answer to these questions has been both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I’m already putting plans into motion that’ll add capacity to my day-to-day life, making those phone-calls you put off forever, saying those important things you've never had the confidence to say before, and having nights out with friends for one last time before my work takes over, as none of them will hear a jot from me come next week. I hear they’re gutted...

I couldn’t be more prepared, I have a planner, a diary, three huge files full of potentially useful bits and bobs, and enough stationary with my name on it to see all of year eleven through their examinations. I don’t know what else I can do to make me feel ready for this, all I know for certain is that I’m not ready. At all. Maybe all those months of display-making and compartmentalising will come in useful this year, although that may be wishful thinking in the extreme.

Searching for the prince-like positives in this quagmire of negativity-frogs (an actual species, I believe), the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the table is to be laid in exactly seven days time. Don’t worry, I’ll let you know how it goes...

Mr James

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