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This is a question "You're doing it wrong"

Chthonic confesses: "Only last year did I discover why the lids of things in tubes have a recessed pointy bit built into them." Tell us about the facepalm moment when you realised you were doing something wrong.

(, Thu 15 Jul 2010, 13:23)
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I'm Doing It Wrong
Let me take you back to last week's Question Of The Week.

Isn't that lovely? All the nasty shit that's been bandied about on these boards about teachers; it takes a genuinely uplifting teacher to remind us what arseholes we've been on this board in the past.

Well, arseholes, bring it on, because frankly I don't give a fucking shite. By my reckoning, in the carrying out of my job in the past three academic years, I have been called a cunt three times, a motherfucker twice and been referred to - within earshot - using various derivatives of the f-word more times than I care to count. I have been smacked around the back of the head, punched in the stomach and had a pupil attempt to ride his bike straight over the top of me (not least while calling me a 'fucking tramp' after knocking me to the ground). Two of my colleagues have retired because of injuries caused by pupils.

I work but a forty-hour week, but am expected to account for thirty of those hours in precise intervals of five minutes on demand. Can I just put this godawful fucking proposal in front of anyone else with a job, please? Would you be able to produce a detailed schedule of what you did between 10:05 and 10:55 yesterday morning and detail what it actually achieved? This is becoming the fucking norm for teachers.

I am expected to teach elementary chemistry to pupils who cannot read and write; detailed chemistry to pupils who cannot reason abstractly; and advanced chemistry to pupils who cannot even perform simple fucking mathematical calculations such as division (actually - much of this is not true. I spend so much time instructed to teach pupils to behave, write, add up, exercise social skills and answer exam questions, that I don't actually get round to teaching much Chemistry at all). The former two-thirds will happily admit that they do not give a shite about learning a compulsory subject because they are going to work for their father for the rest of their foreseeable lives. They will thereafter perform their best impressions of howler monkeys in all lessons, thereby rendering any able pupils in their class unable to progress. If they tire of that, they will throw things at me, steal anything they can lay their hands on, or just sit and ignore me while listening to music on their iPhones. Electronic appliances which I am no longer allowed to confiscate under some fucking namby-pamby 'Every Child Matters' ruling. If you think I'm being blithe about ECM, let me tell you that some of the nicest, most genuine and mature children I've taught have come from families that quite frankly do not give a holy shite. And that fucking breaks my heart.

Additionally, over the last few months I have been planning a colleague's lessons (on top of my own) because she is long-term ill; determining set lists because my departmental leader can't cope with it; and demonstrating practicals for another 'science' teacher who is not qualified to do so because the department is chronically under-staffed and we are having to draft in members of the PE and Geography departments to teach our lessons. Putting it into some sort of perspective, we currently have five full-time science teachers in a school of 1100 pupils. The average class size is nearly thirty. I have one set of thirty-five, which causes a bit of a problem given that there are only thirty-two chairs in my teaching room.

I'd like to point out that any of the above occurs before any of the Public Sector cuts that have just been announced. I have already been told that I will need to buy the majority of my own pens, crayons, whiteboard markers and so on for the next school year. This with classes who aren't capable of keeping hold of a fucking book for more than twenty hours without reducing it to pulp or sawdust.

On the point of dealing with troublesome pupils, I will quite happily demonstrate that during the course of routine phone calls home I have been called a 'twat', 'fucking incompetent', and - most entertainingly - been told 'Sir, your attitude is crap'. All of this from the progenitors of the aforementioned monkey-howlers that I am expected to educate.

It might be worth, at this point, illustrating that I feel that after six years teaching at the school I have acquired a degree of respect from the pupils. This is merely because I have acquired the skills to make a class sit in quiet, not call me a cunt in the corridors, and take my threats to phone their parents seriously.

Whtat really fucking pisses me off is that the school I allege to be my employers will bend over backwards for some of the fucking kids who are spoiled rotten by their parents. They don't get the cane any more, they don't get lines, they don't get to clean dirty desks. What do they get now? They sit in the fucking sports hall and read a fucking book for an hour in the name of detention. This might be bloody great for the fucking nationwide literacy strategy, but even the stupidest of our fucking kids have worked out that this ain't too bad a punishment in the middle of winter when all you've got to go back to is a house crammed with siblings and barely a one-bar fire to keep you all warm.

Why do we mollycoddle like this? Well, about 10% is because of the deprived children above. Totally legit; no problem with that; they're better off with us than they are at home, sadly.

Unfortunately the other nine-tenths are pupils whom we cannot afford to expel because they would be too fucking expensive for the school, and because they have been tested for intelligence and are therefore capable of gaining a certain number of GCSE grades. No question of whether the kids actually want to fucking achieve for themselves - no, all that matters is that we produce the grades to keep the Government happy.

To this extent, we are asked to break exam-board guidelines: make pupils produce coursework time after time until it is good enough, perhaps even writing segments of it for them, with the onus placed on us - the teachers - if it's not up to their target grade.

I am living in an entirely results-driven society, and have produced the best average improvement scores at all Key Stages for all my pupils for the last three years of my teaching.

Of course, I am deemed to be failing at my job. Why?

Firstly, while I had a class of pupils sitting silently and completing a test, I logged onto a website for ten minutes to check the status of my local sports team. I was therefore deemed not to be in control of the class.

Secondly, when confronted with a class of 30 pupils, 28 of whom flat-out refused to work for a full hour, I put the latter 28 into detention. I was accused of refusing (yes, me - not them - refusing) to teach them.

Because the latter class were GCSE critical (ie. might be getting C-grades if we wrote their coursework for them), I have been placed on a final warning. Because results are the important thing, you see? Not the fucking staff who are expected to deliver those results.

Now, I'm by no means claiming that the above two instances were correct courses of action, but would anyone else here think it was a case of putting one's job on the line?

Apparently I'm doing it wrong. And - frankly - I say screw anyone who attempts to glamorise the teaching profession.
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 2:07, closed)
"I work but a forty-hour week, but am expected to account for thirty of those hours in precise intervals of five minutes on demand.
Can I just put this godawful fucking proposal in front of anyone else with a job, please? Would you be able to produce a detailed schedule of what you did between 10:05 and 10:55 yesterday morning and detail what it actually achieved?"

I work a 48-hour week, run a small but not insignificant risk of being boiled, drowned, asphyxiated, poisoned or severely burned 12 hours a day, and my entire workload, test results etc. must be accounted for (including the time spent on the plant making each batch, or washing out the lines) and logged so that our customers know exactly what, when and how their products were made. If you think producing work to clearly-set standards is beneath you, get a job in IT and piss around on b3ta instead of working.
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 3:13, closed)
I bet you get paid shit loads more than a teacher, though

(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 5:50, closed)

I have had a number of calls home from my sons school about lack of effort or attitude. I am always happy to support the school, and have frequently asked what the teacher would like me to do. I have even offered to sit in lessons to embaress him in to behaving.

No one has yet taken me up on this offer, or been able to suggest a positive action that I can support.

It feels like the school just want to make a phone call and relieve themselves of the problem, rather than taking the lead and resolving it.
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 7:25, closed)
It's good that you are supportive
I myself have experienced some less than ungrateful parents in a phone-home situation. All the school can do, however, is to follow the behaviour policy, one of the steps of which is to notify parents of consistent bad behaviour - after all, parents are ultimately responsible for their children and in the cases of a lot of children, a simple phonecall home isn't relieving the teacher or school of the problem.

To have a parent come and sit in the class is frankly impractical and unnecessary.
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 10:30, closed)
so what do you think you can do?
you're the parent, don't you talk to your offspring?
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 14:12, closed)
You have my sympathy for this.
Both my parents were teachers, and I grew up seeing the ridiculous amounts of paperwork they both brought home and were expected to do, as well as the sheer amount of stress they dealt with every day. My father almost had a nervous breakdown a couple of times, thanks to pupils who wanted to sue him for harrassment because he had to physically restrain them from punching him in the face.

Anyone who has the balls to try and teach these days deserves all the help and support they can get.
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 8:01, closed)
What area is this?
I want to avoid that school
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 9:10, closed)
Sounds like you should find another job
I certainly don't envy you, it's not a job I would like, and it sounds very much like you would rather be doing other things, so why not try something else. Every time I've found myself hating what I'm doing for a living, I set myself up for something else & walk out the door.
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 9:30, closed)
Both my mum and my boyfriend are teachers
and it's been suggested I should consider it as a career choice. Ha, no fucking way! I'll do my PhD with shit pay and no holiday and 60+ hours a week because at least that way, it's my choice and there's no children around. Have a million clicks sir, you are a saint.
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 9:39, closed)
A good friend of mine took a 60k pay cut when he left his city job to go into teaching. He was full of enthusiasm and excitement about a career that actually meant something; not just crunching numbers in Excel but educating the next generation in mathematics.

His PGCE was tough, taking in some of south London's rougher schools. He persevered.

His first year in teaching was really tough. Working longer hours than he had as a financial consultant, his 'spare' time became filled with hours of lesson planning, marking, and other assorted tasks.

The second year was worse still. Having survived one year, he was given the worst behaved sets to teach the next. He fights a daily battle with unruly pupils, having to send out those fighting in class or vandalising the books or desks. He deals with verbal abuse and has been physically threatened.

He's spoken about quitting but wants to see it through. I think if he leaves he'll think of himself as a failure.

I honestly don't know why he bothers.
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 10:36, closed)
absolutely true. Both my parents are teachers (mother no longer so) and my dad in particular has had to deal with exactly this. And thanks to the influx of career heads who have almost no experience of a tough working environment the support is negligible.

One incident that will always remain in my mind is of one of my father's colleagues, whose car was almost turned over- with his wife and children inside, by the group of fucking yobs he was supposed to try and teach basic music to
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 11:40, closed)
Film them
If they are as illiterate as you say, a consent form can be waved under the 16 year olds noses and you can set up a camera in a discrete place...
Prove to your bosses & parents the reality you face
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 11:54, closed)
you surely mean discreet
setting up a camera in a discrete location a) doesnt make sense (cameras plural would though) and b) wouldn't do much good ;)

yes yes im a pedant blah blah
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 13:42, closed)
Fuck, this makes me angry.
I could never do this.
Please, cunt them all in the fuck. (The school that is, not the pupils, although it sounds like a few of them are in need of it as well.)
Good luck to you.
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 12:21, closed)
i applaude you for even turning up
i've just spent a year filling in for someone (i am not qualified in any way and am very very crap at it but its taken them that long to hire a replacement). It was horrible. For reasons much less grim than you have dealt with i'm glad to be getting out and heading back to a normal job (if i can find one).

I swear the best thing that could happen to education is if the teacher just all fucked off for 6 months and let the parents take over. and mandatory one week a month work for the education heads as support tutors. it would be quite illuminating for all concerned
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 13:01, closed)
Are you in a union?
I've not been teaching long, but I've heard a few tales like this one. It sounds to me like the SMT are doing it wrong, not you.

Some schools do interpret ECM and rights of the child a bit loosely, but if the children are prevented from accessing the curriculum (e.g. using electronic equipment at at the wrong time, disrupting class when others are trying to learn) then that is the most important thing to focus and act on. Your school behaviour policy should take that into account, if it doesn't then the SMT have failed not you.

If your results are consistently above expectation then there is no way the SMT can blame you for anything going on, since your primary purpose is to teach and you appear to be doing it right!

Contact the union and explain it to them, see if they have any advice (they will, and it's what they're there for)

Good luck in the future
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 14:18, closed)
I agree, speak to your union or join one immediately if you're not in one.
My brother went through a very similar thing at his previous school due to lack of support from his employers. His union were a great help and prevented him from having a full on breakdown.

In answer to your original question however, when I'm employed, I'm expected to account for the hours of 8:30am until around 3pm in 5 minute intervals as that is the time when I will either be scrubbed into operations, or monitoring the anaesthetics. I also work (usually) a 40 hour week, plus 40 hours of college work in the form of exams, revision, essays etc...for this I earn just above minimum wage. I still don't enjoy being unemployed at the moment though. Sorry for tangent.
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 17:42, closed)
The more accounts of teaching I hear..
.. the more I wonder why this sort of story doesn't occur more often.

Good luck.
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 14:46, closed)

Of course, Peter Harvey's been suspended from teaching now.

That'll be a weight off the pupils' minds...
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 15:18, closed)
"Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un enfant pour encourager les autres.."
Badoom tish.

Although, returning to the qotw, perhaps Peter Harvey did it wrong, too..
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 23:22, closed)
I can't comment
But my 'Peter Harvey - legend!' Facebook page attracted 30,000 fans (all members of the NUT) before being taken down by the Government.
(, Sun 18 Jul 2010, 10:26, closed)
It can't be just me..
that thinks the little shit had it coming?
(, Sun 18 Jul 2010, 14:07, closed)
work in a school but not as a teacher, as an IT Technician. I couldn't be a teacher, I wouldn't have the pateince.

Unfortunately from what I've gathered it's pretty much the same here. Teachers that can't control the classes, pupils that just don't want to be there and couldn't give a damn. The most frustrating thing as that they have to try and help the pupils so each day a fleet of taxis turn up to drip off students (paid for by the taxpayer) as the parents claim hardship.

We've got a new school built ready for september and come christmas its going to be a very diffrernt building in three months. All nice new computers and iMacs, all very nice and good, expensive headphones which will be stolen or damaged beyond use because the students will take advantage of it. The school has at least 5 studnets in after school detation (doing nothing for a hour) and thats pretty much the worst punishment the school can give. External suspension is a weeks holiday and just what the kids want.

One day one of the members of staff will snap. It's got a high chance of being me.

And this ^^ is the sort of teacher I admire.
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 19:12, closed)
Those who can't? Get all the motherfucking abuse.
I work as a Lab Tech in a school and, you know, so many people keep on asking me why don't I look to start a PGCE -- more money, better job, increased career prospects, etc. etc.

My fucking tits. I'm in a bloody good position to see how much the teachers have to do, what their take home work is and what they have to contend with -- and how little support they are getting. Teachers ain't stupid, and when your job is tied in to results, well, who can blame anyone for massaging those results as best they can? And it's only fucking up some future humans, so what's the bother. No sir, I'm not falling into that trap.

I already have the best job in the damn school; getting dirty, playing with chemicals and reading the paper while drinking tea. I make volcanoes and go to the shops for eyeballs, fill balloons with hydrogen and practice yo-yoing. The worst bit of my job? Having to file stuff away. (Boo fucking hoo, eh?) Teaching is fine if you [a] have the knack or [b] if you're willing to live with the stress and hell they give you. I don't, and I'm not. Hats off to anyone who does and can.
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 19:16, closed)
Well I'm sorry is my story upset you so much
I was proud of my class and what they have achieved I just wanted to share.

For the record my last class were year 5 (9 and 10 year olds).

There were two children in that class who have both been removed from main stream education due to their excessive violence.

I too have been to to fuck off, been called a cunt and been reduced to tears. I have had things thrown at me and children climb out of windows to escape.

I also have to submit lesson plans, like every teacher.

Over the last 3 years I have been through 3 OFSTEDs.
In the last one we were told that the school was only satisfactory as our SAT results were poor. This does not take into account that we are a school in a massively deprived area with some of the worst cases of neglect I have ever seen.

Yes I know its hard, yes it can be sodding thankless. But it can also be rewarding.
I have spent many years doing jobs in the private sector. All I got from them was a target driven job where the target is to line someone elses pocket.

Might I suggest if you hate it so much you do something else?
(, Sat 17 Jul 2010, 22:10, closed)
I might be wrong but I don't think he was upset by your uplifting post last week so much
but perhaps wanted to show the other side of teaching.

I've taught in Primary and Secondary schools, I've also taught in Sixth form colleges and a university.

I've also experienced very similar situations to both of you. Teaching Y1 is fantastic - emotionally demanding but amazing when you reach the end of the year and see how your class can now read, do tens and units, sit quietly and be great fun. I loved every moment in the classroom - yes the OFSTEDs were a pain in the arse but that's part of the job, as are the sometimes difficult parents.

I've just finished teaching A and AS English Literature and Language in a local college. Most of the kids wanted to be there and for some of the time worked hard. I also had some who were only interested in their mobile 'phones and leaving early so they could have a fag. I was there covering for another teacher who had simply packed up her stuff one day and walked out. While I was there another teacher flipped, screamed at her class and left - she returned a month later but was still unhinged. In the English department one member of staff spent half the week having medical appointments for stress related health problems but still loved her job, even if it was killing her. Another member of the department was up to two in the morning every day sorting out coursework - she was planning to hand in her notice. The other member of the department lost her father while I was there but only missed one afternoon for his funeral - she's retiring next year, if she lasts that long.
And as it's a college the lessons start at 10.15 (staff arrive about 8.30 and do paperwork) and finish at 5.30, unless you're also teaching evening classes in which case it's 7.30. No free periods at all during the week but a lunch hour of 1 hour and 45 minutes, unless you've got tutorials - which happened three times a week, then you got half an hour.
I was lucky because I was only there for a term.

I'm sticking to teaching in a university - pay and conditions might not be brilliant (still no permanent contract in sight) but no parents to avoid and the hours are good.

I love teaching and it can be a brilliantly rewarding job but it can also be dangerous, stressful and demanding.

I've also worked in offices where I had to account for every fifteen minutes of my time so it could be charged out to clients. The stress there was nothing like that of teaching.

Teaching is like being on stage every single day. If you're feeling hungover, miserable or just plain pissed off you have to hide it because you're a professional and controlling your class is like keeping an audience happy.

And kids can smell fear.

All that said, I still love it but I'd never ever want to do it full time again because I value my sanity too much.
(, Sun 18 Jul 2010, 0:06, closed)
I also thought the OP was genuinely pleased for the nice primary school teacher
and wasn't trying to have a go. I spent an unpaid year doing my teaching qualification, then left after less than a year's work. Don't know what the stats are like now, but back then in the late 90s they indicated that 40% of newly trained secondary teachers left the profession within three years and didn't come back. I would be surprised if things had improved.

The problem is that the managers of schools have a vested interest in blaming their staff for badly behaved pupils. It means they can continue to brush the problem under the carpet and pretend that their school is a brilliant successs. In bad or borderline schools, longserving 'ordinary' classroom teachers tend to survive because the managers are friendly with them, or frightened of taking them on because they are stroppy types. Newly-qualified, newly-appointed staff get the worst classes and only token support. In a way that's understandable; the turnover is so high that there probably seems little point in helping a newbie when there's a good chance they will jack it in fairly soon.

I was asked to stop sending disruptive kids out of the room, because they tended to wander off and break stuff. Of course that made keeping control nearly impossible, but it was still easier than arranging for a manager-teacher to patrol the corridors. I've also been sworn at and all the rest - the worst problems are the kids who randomly wander into your lesson to abuse you and cause havoc. Quite often you've never met them before and have no idea who they are. While you are busy trying to persuade them to go away, the class you are supposed to be teaching is kicking off. By the way, the penalty for walking into a classroom with the express purpose of disturbing a lesson that you were never supposed to be in is ... to write a two-line note saying you are sorry.

This is the bit that I think primary teachers of very young children sometimes don't get - their job is bloody draining with 30 little mites clamouring for attention, but within a few weeks they will be familiar with most of the kids in the school; they stay in one classroom all the time; they don't get barged or threatened in the corridors and, essentially, you CAN make a five year old comply with your instructions. You can't do that with a fifteen year old and there is always the risk that they could seriously hurt you if you push them too far.

For such a teacher to turn around to a secondary colleague and say "I'm sorry you seem to hate teaching / children so much, you should leave" is, just perhaps, a little bit presumptuous.
(, Sun 18 Jul 2010, 1:23, closed)
My mum
teaches year 1 and had one child so badly behaved that when he kicked off one day it took SIX adults to physically restrain him and stop him hurting any of the other children. Yes, six. He was six years old.
(, Sun 18 Jul 2010, 9:39, closed)
Then you have 6 people who need to be trained so no one gets hurt.

(, Mon 19 Jul 2010, 16:04, closed)
They were trained
and using the proper techniques. That's the scary thing.
(, Tue 20 Jul 2010, 14:33, closed)
But if you hate any job then you should get a new one.
I have no doubt that teaching teenagers is a sodding nightmare, and one I wouldn't do, primary teaching is a little more than just handing out a glue and glitter.

I have a great deal of respect for anyone who teaches secondary as I know I couldn't do it. However don't underestimate a ten year old who is kicking off, or a five year old for that matter.
(, Sun 18 Jul 2010, 17:49, closed)
Are you not good enough at anything else to get another job?
Or would you miss the 40 hour week and, what is it these days, ten weeks' holidays a year too much?
That being said, it is the fault of pisswimp, bedwetting hand-wringing, liberal cunts like most QOTWers that you lot aren't allowed to batter the fuck out of the thick, mouthy little shitbags any more. So you've got my sympathy for that.
(, Sun 18 Jul 2010, 4:13, closed)
If I remember correctly
corporal punishment in schools was abolished in 1988. When Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. Yep, she really was liberal, wasn't she? No, that doesn't sound right...
(, Sun 18 Jul 2010, 9:55, closed)
Yes she was PM at the time, but it was abolished because of a European Court Of Human Rights ruling.
So yes it WAS the fault of pisswimp bedwetting handwringing liberal pinko fuckwads.
(, Sun 18 Jul 2010, 11:08, closed)
Thirteen weeks holiday
But not a 40 hour week.
I get to school at 8 and leave around 6. Then I'll do another hour at home and about three hours over the weekend.
And that's teaching 5 year olds.
(, Sun 18 Jul 2010, 10:35, closed)
Ooooh, hard life.
55 hours a week still ain't so bad.
Hell, even I work more than 60 hours most weeks, and I work shifts.
Mind I do get paid to look out of the window. Thus claiming ULTIMATE VICTORY over EVERY single fucking teacher I had in school who all told me "stuj, you will NEVER get a job that pays you to look out of a window SO PAY ATTENTION IN CLASS!"
Plus I could actually have retired 5 years back.
Living the dream. Right HERE teacher.
(, Sun 18 Jul 2010, 11:14, closed)
yeah fuck'em.
sorry just being paid more to look out of the window. :)
(, Mon 19 Jul 2010, 16:06, closed)

It sounds like you work in my school!!! Surely every school in the country can't be like this??
(, Tue 20 Jul 2010, 21:18, closed)
Dad tried teaching secondary science
Round the same time I was starting secondary school. Never seen him so stressed, it was a bloody awful time for the family.
Tales include comforting a woman teacher who'd had a 15 year old put his hand up her skirt (management response-try wearing different clothes!), someone trying to set his beard on fire and numerous assaults. He spent most of the 70's in Norn Iron in the Royal Engineers, and reckoned that was far less stressful.
Also, it is now part of the requirements of an apprenticeship that you do key skills in maths, english and IT, because most kids can't read or add up.
(, Thu 22 Jul 2010, 13:26, closed)

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