Wednesday, 22 October 2008

hang on, there was a funny moment today. I has set a task for the girls to impro a scene between  Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta Scott King, in which she wants more of a political career and he is is saying that she should stay home and raise the kids.  ( read it on wikipedia 'so it must be true et'c.)

Two girls did the most ghetto slang version you could imagine. Martin is asking Coretta, " are you dumb?"  and  that she's sket and she is calling him a waste-gash et'c and that he's just after a boomting. In the end I had to stop it and say that I was suprised that they would depict these icons in this way. One girl says " miss, you don't understand. we are doing the Black version!"

Excuse me? Have I missed something here? I am now really worried.

Have all those Black History Weeks you slogged through at primary school been wasted?

" Yeah, we know they're black miss.." (phew!) " but this is is how black people talk"

" So you think all black men talk to women like that. Do you really think that Martin spoke to Coretta like that?"

 This provokes thought. Some are saying yes, others are not so sure...

" Rubbish, he would not have spoken like that to her and she wouldn't speak like that to him. Do your parents talk like that to each other? I doubt it" I say.

"Sometimes..." some of them say. ( Jesus.. i'm thinking...)

More discussion.

"Well its how teenagers talk ..."

Aha, there we have it! 

So then I have to say that it was a bit mental to portray MLK and CK as London teenagers. The whole point was, just 'cos he was a revolutionary, doesn't mean he wasn't a sexist. 


I wish that it was my last hour on the titanic. Im at break point. Today, a girl who screamed at me last week for not praising her rubbish work, told me to shut up every time I spoke, that i'm stupid and then repeatedly called me a tramp.  there were many other moment like this today but that topped it. I found it very hard not to insult her back. i did call her a fool. I also learnt that two of my collegues are leaving the department leaving me to do hold up the fort and induct new staff which i will not be paid to do. I now see why teachers go off work with stress. I find the workload almost impossible. I get in a every day. I work all day til six pm with less than hour off in the day. I leave when the school keeper kicks me out and i could still stay on till nine and only then feel like I have done most of what is asked. I have no life. I'm drinking way too much. My period is over two weeks late. I  have psoriasis on my elbows and ankles.. and i want to leave this profession and say... hey, let someone else fucking do it.

Monday, 13 October 2008

sorry if i cant blog that often. I'm basically too tired or planning lessons.

OK, more news from the front. I think I forgot to say that my school is being closed next year... well this is what is proposed to happen... but local council are still in 'consultation'. They want to merge the school with others and flog 'em off  to Academys. It saves them a lot of money and hassle. I didn't really get the whole Academy' thing until now and its pretty sick that it exists under a Labour Government. But then thats the con, there is no labour.

Our local council has also put a cap on the amount of exclusions you can have per year. Ours is seven. Any more then you are financially punished  12.5 grand plus the 4 grand you are given per year per child. So you have to keep the nutters or lose a teacher or two. Academys don't have a quota or a cap so of course they can  shed the rest.  Nor do they have to have a board of govenors to answer to that is made up of parents. They can put their own in place. They are pretty much outside the jurisdiction of the local council. Nor do many of them recognise the teaching unions and don't have to. Thanks Labour. Ok so the tories created this, but why havn't Labour used their massive power to rid us of this nonsense.

Plus, the local council questions the school way before they even et to their magic 7. I don't think my school excluded 7 last year.

But as the gov't has a legal mandate to educate every child,  thus the normal local school ( also known as a community school) has to take up the slack and thus become crapper.  I read last year that one academy shed 25% of its kids. Eventually when every school in the borough is an academy, the kids will be forced to go into the next borough to be educated and then that borough will go ' academy' too, just to not become a bin. 

So many of these kids have serious emotional problems and there is a minimal service to back them psychologically. So many of them badly need a shrink. 

Oh and did I mention I also got pushed the other week. she got excluded for five days. I had her back in my class  because other staff were out or sick and there was nowhere to put  her. I tried to talk to her before the class but she refused and was rude, let alone saying sorry. She did mention that she would lie to blow up the room with me in it. I eventually has enough and asked her t go into another class but she ignored me and walked off shouting at me to shut up. After that I decided that I would not have her back in my class no way. Last Friday she thumped another teacher. She is being excluded for 5 days again. 

Friday, 19 September 2008

God its been a long week. I am home on a friday too knackered to go out and realising that I am too busy working to have a life.
The week ended well. Three teachers were assaulted by pupils in 24 hrs.  It began on Thursday, when a student punched a six foot female Brazilian PE teacher in the stomach. This morning, the sister of a year 7, sneaked into the school to beat up some kid and pushed a teacher into the classroom in the process. Then by 10.45am, as I was in an assembly about 'harmony and accepting differences,' I noticed a girl scampering up some stairs.
 Then I saw a tall high heeled black woman striding through reception, followed hastily the Head and a few other teachers. I instantly knew something was seriously kicking off.
 I thought, 'ooh praps it's a mum come in to give her daughter a good slap. Sometimes this happens. Teacher's have to take the softly softly reasonable approach to discipline, and I'm a bit ashamed to admit it that I get a certain sense of moral justice when I know that the parent doesn't give a damn about this PC stuff and gives a well earned whacking. Earlier in the year, a parent who found out her daughter had been lying and stealing from other kids clothes in the changing room, came into the school, ( her teef daughter had also told her she didn't have any dinner money and should come up the school to give her some) but when the parent got there, it all gloriously back-fired on her when her mum was told about her daughter crimes. The mother ran across the sports hall, took off her shoe and began giving her daughter a beating in front of the other girls, screaming 'dont you shame me'. ( imagine this in a strong Jamaican accent) Obviously the PE teacher was duty bound to stop the mother, as it becomes a 'child protection' incident, and of course, she did... eventually.
ANYWAY, it was my lovely maths teacher friend. She'd taken a piece of paper away from some girl the day before for some good reason, and so the girl took the teacher's mobile and refused to give it back. She got a temporary exclusion. ( She had been permanently excluded only the term before????) She then decided to come up the school the next day and beat up the teacher ( slightly spookily pre-meditated). She got into the classroom and began her assault. I saw kids being sent out the classroom and other teachers, plus the school caretaker fly in. Later a large burly Maths teacher told me  that everytime he tried to prise the girl's finger away from a large clump of Miss Maths hair and scalp, her fingers snapped back on again. The she gave my friends a thump, before finally being calmed down by her mother.

Only to be followed by.....  a  fight in the afternoon that had to be broken up and one girl locked in the library for safety. The other pupil couldn't be dragged away and began a stake out. Eventually the police had to be called. She refused to stop texting (probably to her older gang lord brother per chance, and i'm not joking) She was finally escorted off the premises having been pinned down and handcuffed by the police. She was heard to be screaming and spitting a them and calling them dickheads. I guess she had stopped texting by this point. A fellow teacher got a pic of it on his phone. It'll certainly be a screen saver on my mobile shortly. The joke is, she had also been permanently excluded last term, but the admin at the school cant get their paper work done and handed in properly and so the parents won an appeal at the local education authority on a technicality and she had to be let back in. 

Last night I had to stay for an open evening for prospective pupils. All these people tuned up with their cute little primary kids, looking for a nice school to place their cherubs. It was my role to sell my department. I felt a shallow fraud, encouraging them, knowing what I know. Wierdly, someone I knew 20 years ago had come with her daughter to view. I couldn't help my self but say to her quietly,  ' take my number' ill give you the low down.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

One of the ice breakers at the induction was to write three things on a piece of paper and then get up and go around the room to see if anyone elses completely matched yours. Of course it was virtually impossible. 

The chief mathematician talked about the probability of it, and then the member of staff who I shall refer to as Chief Black Person announced that her technique was to only seek out other black members of staff, as they were more likely to have the same tastes. I wonder if I were to announce the same but change black for white... it would have been perceived as racist and exclusive. 

No-one said a darn thing about it!  To much hassle to come above the radar and challenge it. There an accepted apartheid within the staff. The majority of black staff sit together in the staff room. They are nice to the rest of us, but they're definately a clique. 

It echoes all the way down the ranks into the school. There is a pecking order. It is best to be a black student. Asian students are seen as "Neeks", -  uncool swots, -  who are to be avoided at all costs, unless of course they go seek acceptability, and act 'black'. Pretty much same goes for the caucasian girls. I'v noticed that mixed race girls make more effort to define themselves as black within the school. 

Perhaps it is the legacy of '80's politics, but it desperately needs an overhaul. Many worthwhile battles have been hard fought and won and barriers broken down. It's a good thing, but the politics have stagnated. 

In the '80's, it finally became  more socially acceptable to have mixed relationships and in turn have mixed race children. I think that if I had made a black/white marriage, I would have to demand that my partner not only held up good black role models to our child but made their approval and belief in good white role models explicit. I think it's neccesary to be proud to be black but it is also neccesary to be proud to be White. It sounds  socially unacceptable and feels clumsy to say this. I think this is cause  we are not used to hearing it.  Often people want to immediately attach negative connotations to these sentiments, and not only occupy the moral high ground, but build a smug luxury argument on it in order to make a peacock display of their well-honed social conscience.

I talked about being proud to be both races to my new tutor group. They took it in and we discussed how we racially defined ourselves. I could see the mental cogs whirring in the mixed race girls who said they defined themselves as Black. We discussed with one girl who is mixed race, how she see's herself. I don't think that she had time to answer before another girl said she looks white. (She is quite light skinned. She could be mistaken for Spanish.) She  quickly said that she wasn't sure how she saw herself.  I shall see how this goes and where it leads. I only have one white girl in my tutor  group and she is virtually silent. I am glad to get these subjects up for discussion.  I am aware that it is important to tread carefully, but it is important to keep treading. Too many people are covering their arses with the 'silence is golden' technique, the Queen Victoria famous line to her court:" We shall pretend we haven't smelt the fart". If you say nothing, you cant be condemned. Though neither can you advance your understanding.

Anyway, back to our INSET training, in which we were lectured on use of language towards students. This was defined into 'inviting language,' 'intentionally inviting,' 'uninviting 'and' intentionally uninviting.' We were also told to smile more at students and be more welcoming of them into the class room at the begginning of the lesson. 

This type of training is what really gets up the noses of the staff. Loads of cutting edge researched new ideas into how to get the students to learn more et'c, but all the time refusing to address the screaming emergency of how we dont have a working system to deal with our disciplinary problems with consistent consequences.

I don't disagree with these marvellous theories. I just know how damn hard it is to use inviting language, after a couple of weeks into the term, when the eight girls at the back of the line refuse to stop talking and recognise that you are their teacher.

It's like I am being ordered to mix more cocktails instead of launch the life rafts as The Titanic goes down...hence the title of my blog. 

Later we have an NUT meeting. The local rep informs us that they field more calls from our school than all other schools in the borough put together. Speaks volumes. I think we also have the highest turn-over of staff.  I guess that when you cant change things, the only thing to do is to get out.

One of the girls in my tutor group finds me at lunchtime. She is in tears because she is being followed and verbally abused by two girls who used to be her friends. I go outside the door to confront them. I ask if there is a problem and why are they standing there,  when they should, by that time, be in their form room. One is clearly a nasty piece of work. They are aggressive and sarcastic to me. I control myself from returning the same. Experience tells me that this strategy leads no-where. It just escalates things. I hate backing down to bullies. I hate to lose face and I have a hell of a temper and bottle of acid repartee to throw at them. I know I could severly verbally wound these girls within the blink of an eye, but then I would end up being in the wrong. I make the professional decision and call for other staff help.

I wonder why the Head doesn't start the term educating the students about inviting and uninviting language, instead of us. I think about about how this poor girl is being harrassed and has to leave the school early and accompanied to avoid them. I wonder how 'intentionally uninviting' the language of these bitchy bullies is on a scale of one to ten. The answer is 36, which is the number of  abusive phone calls the girl received on her mobile later that day within one hour, including one that threatened her with being a stabbed.  

Monday, 1 September 2008

Day 1. Induction.

First day back. Im trying to remain positive and open minded about the prison sentence ahead.  To hang onto my relaxed state following a month holiday in France, I greet other staff members by kissing them on both cheeks. I kiss the deputy head. It is a mistake. She returns the kisses coldly, even tho she is French. Then I remember the end of last term and that she basically despises me. It sums up my presence in the system. I am the walking personification on " inappropriate"ness. At the end of last term I could barely stop myself swearing in my sentences. Im glad im a member of the NUT. One day im really going to need them.

I meet my maths teacher friend on the stairwell. She has just got her exam results. She has an 82% pass rate. She vows she will work even harder this year. She wants to achieve at least 95%.I suddenly really saw the Cambridge graduate in her. A 'B' is too average. She wants an A*. I have to hand it to her.  She is amazing. She held weeks of after school extra math session last term. Those girls were so lucky to have her.

Today we are just easing in to it all. No kids in yet. Its almost bearable. I clear out the office and rearrange the stock cupboard. I see some class lists and crow over the fact that some of the most hideous girls in the top set of year seven have this year been dropped to the bottom set. Thats quite a way to fall.

We have a big meet with the Head. She tells us the school got 48% A-C's this year. I dont think this is that great. I think Roedean got about 92%. 

We discuss the new house structure for the school. I ask if we are going to have a head girl. I read a lot of Mallory Towers and the Chalet School series as a kid. I always wanted to go the either of these girls boarding schools. The latter seemed to be a lot of ski-ing in the Austrian Alps before 'frustuck'.  I am living in la la land. 

Then we go over the classic teaching jargon. ECM is my favourite. It stands for Every Child Matters. It is a government directive on the Educations systems pledge to include and teach every lovely/clever/stupid/nightmare kid. It will be a great shock for them when they reach 18 and they find out that no body gives a monkey's anymore. Why not Every Adult matters? They will spend more of their  life as one.