woensdag 25 mei 2011

Teacher In Combat

Stallie is a teacher. And she likes her profession. But after 13 years spending in front of the black board I wonder if the job description I did sign up for at time is still up. I doubt it. One look over my shoulders at the end of the day and I know that more then ever I am more then just a person who is pouring some knowledge into the brains of fierce teenagers.

But did I ever sign up for that when I decided to go for that teaching degree? Let me think, let me think very hard. Uhm, hard to say. In the first place my intention was rather to make sure that kids got to learn something new. When I then decided that special ed was the audience I prefered above A-level students I was aware of some pitfalls. This teacher was very aware that she was going to have to deal with a lot more then just unfinished homework assignments and teenagers who did not seem to care about school...

But lately I have a bit of a hard time to link my job description to what I seem to be doing more and more:

- I am told more and more that I am in command of children their well being and this on all fronts. Even my own pupils tell me. They even consider me 2nd in command after their parents. So that then means that I am so to speak their lieutenant general. And those do yell once in time to get their point across.

- I have to be prepared to be called less nice names. Kids are very creative in coming up with 'funny' names when they want to get your attention. They just then seem to forget that words do hurt. Okay, I do put on a bullet proof vest before I go into my classroom.

- I face more and more pupils who seem to have a very hard time to combine school, friends, family and free time. Many times entering my classroom feels like I am entering a minefield. In some cases I can find the detonator in time to make sure that there don't take place some major explossions in my classroom. Unfortunately I do sometimes miss by an inch or is the bomb that intelligent planted that I do miss the signs and just have to face the bloodshed and the casualties. All that is then left for me to do is calling in the medic and hoping he can patch them up in no time.

- I am not always considered their best friend and not popular. Especially by the ones who I keep telling that they should pay attention. The more I point out that it is important to keep all your senses open, keep your material ready for battle and make sure that you keep fit by going to bed before midnight and store away in time or shut down all electronic devices because if you do not then your worst enemy might find you in no time: exhaustion.

- There are even days that I have to deal with mutiny. My troops then have the tendency to turn against me. Order in the classroom is then hard to find and then I need to be negotiator. Cautiousness is then my biggest alley out there on the battlefield but still I might end up losing a few of my best soldiers out there. Some of them never return 'home' and decide to keep hanging out the edge of 'nobody's land'.

- More and more I am engaged into battle with the invissible enemy. I sometimes go blind and need tons of high tech protection gear to make sure that I get unharmed out of a battle. Because even my own troops do not always trust me. They then decide to keep things to themselves and then forget that this causes also chaos. Communication is in the heat of the battle the key to victory. So when one soldier then decides to ignore commands and instructions then it is no wonder we are about to lose some gained terrority. But I must say that fighting with night vision googles on is rather tiring and that I sometimes just need to let go.

- Having to call in other troops when my tactics seem to fail. I then need to call in the Green Barrets because these special forces then need to engage in something that I still seem to fail at. And believe me 'search&rescue, security assistence, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistence and demining, psychological operations, manhunts and counter-drug operations are nowadays actions that do take place in a schoolbuilding.

- Facing court martial once in a while. Some of my best soldiers sometimes make me end up in court. First we try to settle the issue behind closed doors and does my attorney advice me to stay calm and not lose it all together. I then give them an other chance to show me what they are worth out there in the jungle or when having to face open fire. We then both dust of our combat boots and take a long hot shower in order to start over fresh.

Oh dear, it seems that I have signed up for the army rather for being a teacher. Okay, I hope you do know I am bit overreacting. But I do want to point out that I can't be just a Blue Helmet the whole time when I am out there trying to fight the teenage monsters and trying successful to finish any operation without losing anybody on the way. Armed with only chalk, an apple and a grading system I would not even make it through day 1!

BUT still.... I do hope that most of my pupils do trust me. Because yes, I do still will catch a granate for them when an enemy is throwing one at them. The biggest weapons I do have while I am out there are compassion and sympathy. I still feel responsible for each of them put under my command and so I do grant them many chances to get it right. I just hope that they also do realise once in a while that I also need to be granted a few extra shots to aim right and hit the bullseye! Because in the end I do need to make my pupil's targets and that is what counts the most to my general. So you better be ready for combat when entering my classroom!

3 opmerkingen:

Inge zei

Ja Stallie, trek die kogelvrije vest en valhelm maar aan. Het zijn de laatste maanden en die zijn meestal niet gemakkelijk. Ik moet zeggen dat ik versteld sta van de evolutie die onze school(populatie) heeft doorgemaakt de voorbije jaren. Les geven zoals vroeger is er niet meer bij. Je moet helse toeren uithalen om wat leerstof over te brengen, want op kousenvoeten moet je ook rekening houden met allerlei neveneffecten die tot explosies kunnen leiden. De voorbije weken waren er heel wat explosies, waaronder zelfs enkele waarbij leerkrachten lichtjes in gevaar waren. Dat heeft me toch al behoorlijk doen nadenken. Ik hoop dat de leerkrachten op tijd aangeven wanneer ze zich niet meer goed of op hun gemak voelen binnen de school. Want ook al werk je met leerlingen die een speciale aanpak nodig hebben, dan nog mag je je er als leerkracht wel goed bij voelen.

Petra zei

Every time I see you writing about your job I get the feeling that you are exactly in the right spot and doing it exactly right.
You have the compassion this job requires, the compassion so many other teachers are lacking nowadays.
The fact that your students fight with you means that they actually care, about you and about their education.
Not many teachers can get THAT out of their students.

I remember only too well the differences in "teacher quality" from my own time at school. Some just didn't care about us and so we didn't care either. Others really hated us and we hated back. But a select few threw themselves into the fight with us, with other teachers, with life, every day. And they were the ones we really liked, the ones you go to when you have a problem and need a serious bit of advice, the ones you would never really play a trick on, the ones you'd always be honest to at the end of the day.

Let me tell you: you are doing it right! You are fighting the good fight and you are winning!
Keep that up!

Fie zei

Pfff, wat een entry. Ik ben blij dat je het allemaal door je vingers hebt kunnen jagen, ventilatie is echt wel nodig op zo'n momenten! Nog vijf weekjes Stallie, en dan kunnen we die monstertjes weer even achter ons laten ;-).