Saturday, 30 March 2013

Today I... Felt Defeated

Today I feel as if I am wading through a deep pool of my own morose creation. Most people that know me see me as quite a callous, dry individual - admittedly, my default mood is misery - and, as a teacher, I must subdue these waves of frown-faced frumpiness and radiate a more glowing appearance to ease my students into a state where their mind can easily absorb information. As any teacher will tell you, this is 'the dream'; a class that revels off your every word and allows the lesson to flow without interruption. As any teacher will also tell you... the dream is a lie.

In reality, a standard lesson is only as good as the pupils' current state of mind. If one of the influential students is feeling a tad bit angsty, you are basically pissing in the wind for the duration of the lesson. Childrens' state of mind acts as a ripple effect in these situation. A single instance of bad behaviour can act as a green light for living mirrors. If one child is not in the right mind to be taught, it soon becomes a mutiny.

I class today as my worst day of teaching by a country mile. After being softened up by an early start and two hours of 6-8 year old students, I was ready to throw in the towel. But I am no defeatest. I picked myself up, splashed some water on my face, performed the mandatory ritual of an intense bout with the mirror - culminating in a 'you can do it' moment - and headed for my next class. For me, this class is a notoriously challenging one. It contains two passive boys, who humbly sit, do their work and leave. Wall-flowers, in other words. Great kids. There are also a group of girls in this class, all of which are very able and can be a genuine pleasure to teach, but there is a dark side.

As I entered the classroom, the atmosphere sat as a light hum of disdain instead of that uplifting crackle of excitement - an early sign. The rest of class consisted of huffing, the rolling of eyes and a certain 'don't talk to me' just as the piƩce de resistance. They have this routine refined. After locking glances, an ironic smile begins to pull at the corner of one of the student's mouths. It was enough to make me picture a full suitcase and Sunday dinners. As time progresses, the more I realise that I may not be cut out for this line of employment. There is nothing worse than staring into the coaxing jaws of defeat; that slobbering maw with morning breath and 'come to bed' eyes; repeatedly drawing you in for a glorious and soul-destroying fall. These are the moments that are designed to test your character, and do you know what, I have myself to blame.


I should have tried harder to engage the students. As a facilitator, I should have fought to find a way to ease them out of their hormonal ruts. That docile state leaving many teenage girls grazing on their hair for hours, whilst some poor sod just teaches on oblivious. I should have forced them into a mood where they were conscious enough to accept the impartation of my knowledge. Yet I did not.

It is difficult for me to sympathise with anyone who is in a sour situation that they could have prevented. I had the strength to alter this attitude, instead I grinded each of my students through this lesson, thus damaging our relationship and our days. Step up, maggot!

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