Monday, 8 June 2009

A dilemma. . .

We Stepfords have been put out of our collective misery. Pompous Pilate has announced the classes we will be teaching next year. The good news is I haven't been given the Year 6 nutters. The bad news is I have lost my wonderful teaching assistant and I'm teaching a strange mixed class, a mixture of the cleverest from Year 4 and the thickest from Year 5. That means I will be keeping lots of my current class, which is wonderful as I love them to bits.

However, I can't help but think it is time to move on. I adore the School of Hard Knocks, but tomorrow I am going to look round a very different school. A tiny village school, with just 90 children in total (as opposed to the 400 at S of HK). There is a teacher's job going there, and I am very tempted. I imagine obedient, rosy-cheeked Enid Blyton-esque children, harvest festivals where children bring soil-encrusted carrots (not crushed packets of quavers) and candlelit carol services in the local church.

One of the main reasons I need to move is an awful American literacy programme my school has adopted. Every English lesson is completely scripted. I didn't become a teacher to read from a script. I adore teaching English, it is my favourite subject. I remember being inspired by my Year 6 teacher. Every afternoon she would read us wonderful books: Jamaica Inn being the one I remember the clearest. She favoured darkly romantic stories. These days she would be forced to get her children to chant phonics based spellings over and over again.

C - A - T = CAT
R - A - T = RAT
M - A - T = MAT

Yawn. I can't help but think this programme we've adopted may well give our children the tools to read texts, but I guarantee it will also stifle any interest in reading or writing. The lessons are deathly boring. Teaching should be about creativity, passion, personality and spontaneity. The teachers we remember so fondly are those who inspired us with their own passionate love of learning. That can never be scripted. I want to teach somewhere where I don't feel constrained by scripts, where I can really be creative with the subject I love so much.

Yet, I also feel, in a very worthy and Guardian-esque way that the School of Hard Knocks is where I can make a real difference, to children who are in desperate need of a safe and nurturing environment. Oh, I just don't know. I am planning on visiting this school and trusting my instincts. My instincts are consistently shite (see all blog entries about my love-life for conclusive proof of this fact), yet I follow them blindly anyway. I am a classic case of heart ruling head.

Oh, a footnote. Pompous Pilate is observing us all teach at the moment. I have not had the pleasure of the rotund buffoon in my class yet, but it shan't be long. He has said the focus of his observations is 'co-operative learning.' He will be looking for children helping each other, discussing their work, sharing ideas etc, etc. He will then be grading us on our effectiveness as teachers.

'I want you to make the co-operative learning in your classrooms blatantly obvious' he blustered tonight. 'Really draw attention to it whilst I am in your classes. That's what you need to do to be graded 'excellent'. Nothing subtle. You've really go to treat the assessor as if they are an idiot. Treat me like I'm an idiot!!!'

Somehow I managed to bite my tongue. . . .

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