Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Learned Things of My First Year (Part Two)

(Continued from my last post)

I wish I'd known not to try to to control teenagers

Behavior management is going to be a huge focus point for me as I continue to grow as a teacher, and I have a lot to learn on that front. However, I think starting out I somehow equated 'management' with 'control', which meant that I entered my classes wanting EVERYTHING to go exactly right. Any misbehavior was somehow a ginormous reflection on my inability to correctly administer behavior sanctions, and definitely not a result of a rowdy bunch of Year 8's making nasty smells in 6th period after being bored stiff by my non-explanation of overlay maps.

The first time a student walked out of my class dramatically I nearly lost my shiz. Every part of me tensed up as a million thoughts rushed through my head - mostly surrounding how I could control that particular situation. And the thing was, I couldn't. That student was now out of my hands, and I had a class of 27 others who will still there to take care of. The second time that happened, I calmly excused myself from the class, picked up the phone, alerted the office of this student's disappearence and continued on with the lesson.

Also, I have learned if a student absolutely, resolutely refuses to do something, you cannot make them do it. Defuse the situation as best as possible, walk away, and follow up later.

I wish I'd know about the large amount of empty wind in Education (with a capital 'E')

Let's get one thing straight. I don't expect the absolute, down and dirty truth on everything in life. I've lived comfortably with spin, marketing and downright brainwashing for most of my adult life. And I'm not advocating that we all become dried up cynical husks who bay for Gonski's blood. But I am concerned when schools need to employ a full-time marketing department to create glossy brochures and snappy taglines. When the first concern for organizing a school trip is how many cameras to take. When all over this country I hear the following horrible, horrible phrases:

"We need an education revolution!" (Thankyou Mr. Rudd. Would that involve some good ol' guillotining perchance?)

"We don't label students here' (That's right, because Johnny isn't an anti-social, lazy, manipulative bully, he's got 'para-social concerns' and 'responsibility avoidance disorder' and therefore we will do everything in our power to ensure he ruins everybody's educational experience)

"If you create engaging, fun-filled lessons that involve your students' interests, behavior management will take care of itself!' (It won't. And you will be dead by Wednesday.)

"Have you heard of *insert latest educational fad here*? Let's implement it immediately!' (That's a great idea. Because change is always instant and simple. I can hear Michael Fullan sobbing somewhere.)

Please. Please. Please. I long to hear some honest, balanced viewpoints and a sensible evaluation of how a school is running and operation. No hype. Truth leads us to seek solutions.

I wish I'd know that as a first year, you will be up for all the worst school camps.

The less I say about my time freezing my butt off whilst simultaneously cursing the rain, snow and teenage hormone gods, the better.

I did enjoy getting to know the students better outside of the classroom, however.

In Conclusion

I have learned some things, y'all! In many ways I am glad my transition from student to full-time teacher has been difficult as it has given me a burning passion to see other graduate teachers properly supported through their own transitions. I have a Masters thesis to complete next year, and this is looking like it will be the topic for it. I feel so strongly about making sure quality teachers are retained beyond that first five year period, so that our students get the best education possible.


/\            (It's a T-Rex! Run!)

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