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UK Classrooms: My Saving Grace

 

Cathryn is an Australian Teacher living and teaching in London through Protocol Education.

My Saving Grace

Half-term has finally finished, and – just like at home – the last two weeks of term mean ratty kids.  If you’re anything like me, you’re going to start wondering why you made the decision to take on a long term placement, let alone teach in the first place – marking is piling up, you’ve handed out more detentions in a week than you have in the last four, and you’ve got heaps of cover work because other teachers are sick. 

Yeah, so am I.  Sick of the place.

I say this all tongue in cheek of course, because even my worst day teaching is better than my best day anywhere else, but some days are harder than others.  There’s only so many lessons you can teach before your patience runs out and you have to put on your scary face.  So I’ve created a “haven” around my desk – I’m fortunate enough to have my own room, which is only used by other teachers four periods a week, but the ideas could be put into a diary or a little book small enough to carry around.  

My haven includes cards and letters given to me by students that are more than the generic “Thanks for teaching me” – they’ve got a special message.  One of them is a card cut into the shape of an apple, with a touching message written inside.  I’ve also got the names of kids written on a list that have made a special mark on my teaching career, like the girl who decided to concentrate on school rather than her drugs because she realised she had a choice to be more than she was; or the girl who stopped cutting because she felt like she could trust me enough to talk to when she had a bad day, and know that I would point her in the right direction. I’ve also got a photo that was given to me by the group of kids I worked with before I got into Education, and were the reason I went into it in the first place, and every time I look at it, I can’t help but smile and say a little thank you.   It’s because of them that I’ve finally found my place in the world.

We’re in the business of more than education – we’re here to change lives.  I know that sounds a little cliché, but for me, and most of my friends, that’s the reason we got into teaching; because we know the power of wisdom, and we know the influence we have on the future.  And every day, as the song goes, “I thank God for choosing me… for I have the privilege to teach.”

So if you’re having a bad week, or you feel like you’re drowning in your marking (as I write this, I’m looking at a pile of 70 stories to read and about 150 books to mark in a week.  And no, I’m not exaggerating.), take an hour and create your own safe-haven.  Make your own reminder of why you’re a teacher.  It doesn’t need to be much – it might even be a business card size slip that you keep in your wallet.  All it needs to be is something that helps you remember the reason you’re here.  Why are you teaching?  Why are you doing it in London?  Why is this actually the best thing you’ll ever do with your life?

One image that might help you to do it – Imagine this.  You’re in a class full of rioting teenagers.  You’re there, pulling your hair out, on the verge of tears, and all of a sudden you stop.  In a moment of calm, you reach into your bag, and pull out a little book or card, and all of a sudden you laugh really loud.  One kid sees you, and asks you what you’re laughing at, and you don’t respond, but merely keep smiling and looking at the card.

Then they all ask.  Peace and quiet ensues.  All because of a little bit of card.

~ by Cathryn, an Australian Teacher working in London schools through Protocol Education. Click here to read more by Cathryn.

Related Blogs and Pages

UK Teaching Stories: School Assembly
Teaching in the UK: Be Prepared!
The Behaviour Management Guide

Protocol Australia on Facebook - Protocol Australia on Twitter


Tags: Cathryn, Teacher, Australian Teacher, Teach in London, Teach in the UK, Behaviour Management

Category: Australian Teachers


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