It's finally the october break, and I'm so tired that there isn't even a descriptive term for it. Every new teacher (and every experienced one, for that matter) will tell you that it's that first term which really stings. The sheer work involved in that first round of forward planning, where you have not a clue what you're supposed to do. The unfamiliarity with the resources in the school - where the fuck is everything? What are you supposed to do? The daily battle with behaviour: a problem in any new class, let alone a class like mine. New children, new staff, new surroundings - it's a big challenge and one which takes its toll on any teacher.
There have been many occasions over the past 8 weeks where I have really, truly doubted my ability to make it even this far as a teacher, let alone to the end of the year, so I do have a certain degree of pride in the fact I've made it to half-term, and further that I've done so without a nervous breakdown. It hasn't, however, been easy. I've cried myself stupid many times at school, in the toilets at lunch and break, in my room at the end of the day, thinking "What the fuck am I playing at - it's not worth it". And I'm not the only one, by a long stretch, it's been hard for others who I know, harder even.
But, it's not been a wasted term: I've made progress personally and professionally. My disaterous first unofficially observed lesson has been improved upon with two good, if not outstanding lessons, of which I'm fairly proud. The constant stream of bad, shocking behaviour has been, if not replaced, broken up by lessons in which the behaviour could be desribed as very good. It's been a good few weeks since I've cried from stress or despair about teaching, and it's also a few weeks since I've considered quitting, although the last week was a time in which I regularly had to force myself into school against my own wishes.
Of course, I've made life a bit more difficult for myself with the training - I've spent a term getting into school for 7.15, working 11 hours a day to leave at 6.15 (when the school closed), and training for an hour or sometimes two every night. My poor, uncomplaining husband has literally not seen me for more than 2 waking hours a day for over 2 months, but he never makes a fuss - he may well be too good for me.
So, praise be, I've got a week of no school. A week of sleeping late, doing what I want, or not doing anything at all. I've got no fights scheduled at the moment, so I don't need to diet as such, but I intend to eat healthily, exercise lots and try to get a bit more healthy: I am at the moment a bit on the grey, spotty, cold-ridden side, as my immune system has taken quite a wallop recently.
It's made me very happy to see the way that some wee boys, who would have me believe they're the hardest thing since Ghengis Khan, will light up with joy and self-satisfaction at the mention of a pleased note home to their mothers in a special, silver bound jotter with stars on which says "Colin* is a Star!" inside the front cover. (*names changed to protect identity)
Small victories, like having taken two girls who hadn't understood in maths, out of class in my own time to try again to explain how fractions convert to decimals and vice versa, and having them say "oooohhhh, right....I get it now - I understand", can really make your day.
Hearing, second or third hand, that management consider you "well organised" is nice in an anally retentive, superficial kind of way.
Camp was a great experience - some of these children are just not designed for formalised education, and they thrived in the environment of activity, self-relience, and challenge which camp provided. Also, being surrounded by young men and women who were all, without exception, cool and who were not afraid to tell the little hard-nuts just how unimpressed they were by their antics certainly did them no harm.
So, it's not been all bad by any means, and I'll stick it out I think and make it to the end of the year.
But in the meantime?
Fuck teaching. I'm on holiday :)