Had completely overlooked this series, 'Educating Essex', until it was mentioned on BBC Breakfast yesterday. As hubby and I were both teachers (he taught Art, I taught Physics and Science) we thought we'd have a look. Especially interesting as it was being filmed in a School in Essex.
It was the first time I'd been 'back in a school'. I know it was on the telly, but you can't help but remember your own experiences from your teaching days. I haven't been back in a school since getting CRPS and as a rule they don't make documentaries about real teaching. Programmes like Waterloo Road aren't representative of what teaching is like, but this was about real teachers, real pupils with all the problems, issues and battles I had seen or encountered first hand.
My first comment would be that nothing seems to have changed in Schools. There are still the really challenging pupils, the children who are bullying someone or being bullied themselves, the teenage pregnancies, the terrible home life that too many children have to deal with. I sat watching and could visualise pupils from my teaching days with me doing my best to help them as I watched the staff on the programme try to do. I remembered having exactly the same kind of conversations with pupils in my Science groups or tutor group. Trying to show them the way, give them a shove in the right direction. Point out what will happen if they leave School with no qualifications because they 'can't be bothered' or only want to mess about, ruining things for everyone. It reminded me just how much I really miss that. Getting a young person on side, working well, doing their best and keeping out of trouble. Making a difference, however small is why I went into teaching in the first place. It was difficult to watch, knowing that I can never do any of that again. I never got a chance to fulfil my potential, go as far in the profession as I could. In short I wasn't 'done' with teaching. CRPS ripped that away from me in an instant.
There was a Deputy Head at the School whose approach to teaching reminded me of myself in the classroom. He was more than happy to have a laugh, be silly, basically doing all he could to make history less yawn inducing and fun, whilst remaining completely in control of the group. He used the word 'cock' in an entirely appropriate manner, but of course the pupils took it a very different way. I remember using the word 'fart' with a group of year 6 pupils who were visiting the school. Appropriate to what I was talking about but using a word they wouldn't expect a teacher to use. They loved it of course!
It's a wonderful feeling during a lesson when you've got a group of pupils really engaged, they're coming along for the ride, hanging on your coattails. Enjoying the lesson as much as you are delivering it. Lots of banter. You get the idea. Most importantly they are learning without really realising they are. I miss that terribly. The programme brought back memories that I've buried somewhere in the dark recesses of my brain, because there is no way I could ever hope to teach again. Living day to day is hard enough. It annoys me intensely when you hear on the news about people being on benefits when they could work, are just scroungers and cheats. I'd give anything to be back in a classroom again. The fact that I can't hurts. Really hurts!
I would like to think that I'd have become a similar Deputy Head to the one in that programme. Truth is we'll never know....