Is it half term yet?

36 days. Five whole weeks (and a Monday) and they haven’t realised that I am completely and totally making it up as I go along. I have had two crying episodes in the staff room, one- a slow ebbing blub as I started to speak to my head of KS3, the second, a no-holds-barred emotional eruption starting in the corridor in front of terrified year 11’s as I legged it to the safety of the English office. The cause? Teenage girls.

It’s weird, not long ago I was a teenage girl, two years ago in fact. There I was, sleeping till lunchtime, eating all the food, having nothing to worry about except when to wash my hair and if I was ever going to find a guy who liked me. How is it then, that this two-year disparity feels more like 20? When playing ‘guess miss’s age,’ (the favourite classroom game of 11-18-year-olds) I was met with answers that ranged from 25 to 35. I admit that last one hurt. I spoke to my year 12’s about Snapchat the other day and I could hear them cringe. They thought I was trying to ‘relate’ to them, apparently, the most sickening thing a teacher can do, I wasn’t. Snapchat was meant for people my age! It was all about 5 seconds flirting and the ability to make your ex-boyfriend jealous by showing a quick snap of you at a Spoons with a tinder date. Now it’s used for 365 days snapchat streaks and emoji based bullying.

I thought (naively) that my age would help me form relationships with them, and for the majority, I think it has. However, there are always some that you can’t hook in with conversations about Love-Island and your shared love of Topshop. These are the girls that people warn you about before you meet them. The adjective that accompanies them is ‘manipulative.’ You nod as a knot ties itself in your stomach and you pretend that you haven’t heard it. They are the worst teenage girls because they don’t just strop and sulk at you, they make you feel like you have them on-side. you have conversations about their hair colours, about their future hopes and aspirations and then they lose it at a very random, out-of-the-ordinary moment and you are left in the wreckage of the classroom you once felt a little bit in control of.

The first girl, a year 8, left me blue, not really by her actions but by the looks of her classmates, these little girls who looked up at me with pity and frustration because they knew, once again they had been given a shit teacher who allowed her lessons to be derailed by one twelve-year-old girl.

The second a larger than life year 12 who despite the odd eye-roll and refusal to do any work had led me to believe she liked me. Until one Friday, period 5 I was involved in a screaming match in which I was in effect called the worst teacher ever. this was my ‘volcanic emotional outburst’ moment. I sent her out, if I didn’t I would have said something I regretted. in the last 10 minutes of the lesson, I didn’t look up at the rest of the class, my hands were shaking, the tears were coming, I practised submarine depth breathing. One by one they placed their books on my desk in silence and left, five minutes before the bell went. I didn’t care anymore, the sooner they left, the sooner I could cry. One boy stayed behind a quiet kid who never really said much. ‘what happened there?’ he asked,

‘God knows’ I replied.

‘I felt really sorry for you.’ he told me and walked out. and then the floodgates opened, the dam was bust and I sobbed the entire way home.

I would be lying if I said that I let it go, wanted them both back in my class. the truth is, if those girls were taken out I would have a great time with the students that remained. that isn’t in my power though, I had to go in on Monday and see them both, treat them like it hadn’t happened and as they blushed and didn’t look up at me or scived a lesson so they didn’t have to see me, I knew that it was something that they felt uncomfortable about as well.

Whatever happens, I am their teacher. whether they think I’m shit or not. The number of times I have laughed so hard I had to take a minute to compose myself, the poster I was made by a year 7 that stated I was ‘the best teacher ever’, (even if she spelt my name wrong) the times I had girls waiting outside my room asking to speak to me because they had a friendship-group fall apart, or just the ‘good morning miss’ as I greet them at the door, those moments eclipse the bad once totally. And as we begin the countdown (9 school days) until I hibernate and drink too much for a week, I can reflect on my 80 students as a unit and it’s strange, but I think I am starting to like them. even stranger? I think they are starting to like me.

 

 

 

Help I’ve Accidentally Become A Teacher.

‘I’m not really sure how I’ve got here,’ seems to be the main thought scrambling my brain at the moment. Last time I checked, I was the queen of the all-nighter, breaking up my three in the morning essay sesh with glasses of wine watching my grammar slip beyond repair, and now I spend most of my evenings looking up essay plans on Pinterest. I know people say that when you get older time just gets quicker but this is ridiculous.

It was the same sort of confusion that I remember experiencing at my Teach First Assessment Centre. There I was in the ‘interview clothes’ I picked up in a mad rush at Sainsbury’s the night before, sitting in a lovely office in Greenwich drinking tea like it was about to be rationed with a group of lovely girls all going through the same process. I remember feeling a bit of a fraud. They were all talking about how they had wanted to be teachers since they were kids, had been on the waitlist for two years, or girls who hadn’t been successful the year before and were trying again. I ended up here because I had a bit of a meltdown about what I wanted to do with my life and saw the programme as a bit of a win-win: earn money, do my bit for Britain’s youth, why not? Anyway, I probably wouldn’t even get my application accepted.

Then everything seemed to happen very quickly from the moment I sent my application off, three days later my application was accepted, two weeks later I was doing my assessment centre, and then I just kept on ticking things off the list and soon enough was fully accepted and enrolled and now I’m here, a month away from starting my training.

Now all this ‘feeling like a fraud’ isn’t to say that I didn’t want it, in fact with every stepping stone I reached in the process, I started to panic a little more over the result, every extra day I waited to hear back about my result was a little more painful and when I did hear back about finally being enrolled, I strangely  found myself ugly crying because ‘I’m… just …so…happy.’ (insert horrific sobs.)

And now, just four months away from September where I will be called ‘Miss,’ for a good 2/3rds of my day, I feel more excited and enthused about the opportunity I applied for on a bit of a whim. Having people look at you and think that you would be good enough to handle a position of such responsibility is actually quite life-affirming, and gives you the extra bit of confidence that you lacked to say ‘I want to be a teacher,’ in the first place.

So whilst I have so much respect for those amazing girls I met in Greenwich, who thankfully all got accepted as well, who made it their goal to be teachers since childhood it doesn’t mean that my place on the course was worth any less because I just so happened to fall into it a little later. I may still question why the hell I’m here in the upcoming few months but my answer will be, ‘because I bloody well deserve it!’ Because now I want to be the best teacher I can be more than anything.