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The Scientist in Me Needed to Make a Graph….

My lack of blogs has severely affected my writing skills. In fact, I feel that they have already deteriorated and I am remorseful about the fact that I haven’t written. I have created a simple line graph to illustrate the phenomenon of my reduced compositional output: 

 

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Fig.1. Although the scales are completely bogus, it is clear to see that as the amount of bloggable material occurring increases, the time available to blog about the bloggable material decreases. Conversely, when the amount of bloggable material is small, the time in which to blog about it increases. 

 

 

 

 

 

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When it’s not your turn to be the teacher: Managing my/their/everyone’s behaviour #3

I have written before about changing friendships and those moments where I forget to turn off the teacher voice, but the problem of teaching becoming who you are rather than what you do encroaches further into my life than that. Every time I interact with a person who is unreasonable, overly officious or obdurate, it is me who takes the role of pandering to their needs in order to calm them. When I meet a person whom I find disagreeable, I make myself more agreeable to accommodate them. I even do this when that other person is in a position of authority or if they have been employed to cater to my needs. I automatically try to avoid conflict where I might have sought it in the past. I notice in the staff room at school that we all do this for each other as well. When somebody comes in with their temper in fragments, they are not often blamed for it. Instead, everyone else tries to keep out of their way or make them feel better, or simply avoid loading any further responsibility onto them. I definitely appreciate this when it is my temper that has erupted and I think it’s one of the major strengths of our faculty.

The power of placating service people is a useful skill and can win me extra consideration and bargaining powers. It’s also nice to have someone else think that I am a lovely customer. However, there are situations where managing people is a drawback.

When the habit of dispersing tension leaks into your personal life, it costs you meaningful relationships. Managing another person’s behaviour categorises them into a new box in your head. Instead of being equal to you, that person is now lesser. They become equivalent to a student and they also take mental effort to deal with. They will never be a person whose company you seek for pleasure and you will never be able to turn to that person for advice or comfort when you are having a rough time. It also ties you to someone whom you would normally meet and then forget about or refuse to see again. The problem is that you’ve gone to effort to make them feel good at the expense of an opportunity for you to feel good. They leave the interaction liking you, and you leave the interaction pitying them. You end up with a superficial friendship that becomes an obligation. It’s never comfortable and it’s frequently awkward. You end up either making all of the plans  because part of your role in their life is to organise things, OR you get no say because your role is to accompany them when they’ve got nobody. When I began to find relationships like this creeping into my life, I began to question those relationships I had pre-teaching that were a little awkward. It turns out that some of my relationships were less than ideal and I’ve begun to make more efforts with people I actually like. It’s comforting that other people just past my age have said they went through the same thing in their twenties.

Additionally, being a behaviour manager makes it difficult to behave graciously when being taught by someone else.

I got a remote first aid certification recently. It was a two-day course with a mixture of practical and theory, with a very experienced first-aider as a teacher. He had a few tics that it was difficult to ignore though. He had a habit of saying only half of a sentence and ending it as a question, as though waiting for one of the adult pupils to finish the sentence on a subject we had not been taught about yet. He was also patronising and he threw us into practical situations that we could not solve because we did not have the knowledge. I was there with a colleague from school and although the teacher’s first-aid experience and knowledge could not be questioned, we harshly critiqued his teaching methods and laughed helplessly at his manner. Our behaviour was unbecoming and something we would never tolerate from students of our own.

Teachers, like all professionals, have a multi-faceted life with many priorities and responsibilities, but I am finding that I’m turning into a person who approaches all of my priorities with my single-faceted personality. If I continue to do this, I will continue to struggle with making meaning of the place in my life that each person I know holds. In my future, I would like to keep the behaviour management at school and relax when I go home and when I go out to socialise.

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The Essential Bits of Kit

At the end of your teaching degree, you step out into the world with a piece of paper that declares you qualified to inculcate young minds with Science learning:

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However, on your first day as a teacher in a school, you feel more like this:

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During prac, when you’re teamed up with another teacher, you collect a great deal of resources from them, learn to develop your own resources and build confidence standing in front of a class. But it’s not really teaching and it’s not really you managing their behaviour. You also never end up paying the same amount of attention to detail that you do when you’re on your own.

Here are the things you really need when the responsibility is all yours:

Inspiration from the 21st Century:

YOUTUBE CHANNELS: 
AsapScience

MinutePhysics

MinuteEarth

EarthTouch

Veritasium

WEBSITES
TED talks

HSC online

BBC bitesize

TALE

Zenpencils 

ABC Splash

FACEBOOK
I Fucking love Science

ScienceFriedArt

ScienceAlert

TheEarthStory

Creativity

Designing interesting lessons and experiments takes a lot of mental power. You have to ensure that they are scientifically rigorous, but engaging enough to keep teenagers entertained for 50 minutes. I use a lot of role plays, information search activities and electronic simulations. You also have to be able to dope an experiment and judge the level of detail you will require in the results.

Designing punishments also takes a lot of mental power, and this is where it helps to be a little evil. The last thing you want is to be a predictable teacher. You need routine and predictability in the environment, but your students should NOT be able to press exactly the right buttons to elicit an entertaining response. There is no point getting angry with a student or a class. Instead, you should ALWAYS find a way to get even. Here are my personal favourites: the bitch-stare; writing dashes in a corner of the board without explaining what they are; making a student sit alone or with someone who is not their close friend; sitting next to a student and silently completing the work you have just given the class; an apology letter to the student who has been maligned; copying from the dictionary the true meaning of the word ‘faggot’ and then explaining why it is unacceptable; generating adjectives to replace the use of ‘fucken’; a 1-page essay explaining how student behaviour contributes to learning; a lunchtime scab duty where a plastic bag must be filled with rubbish (environmentalism AND public humiliation); phone calls home. If none of this is successful, I write hidden insults into their report comments. This does not help the situation, but it is in line with my personal philosophy: nobody gets something for nothing. It also makes you feel better.

Flexibility

Always have a backup plan. Take textbooks or worksheets with you in case the kids are too feral to undertake a prac. Keep a group work activity up your sleeve to use if NOBODY will complete individual tasks that lesson.

NEVER be flexible with an instruction or punishment though. If you don’t stick to your word, the kids will soon learn how to manipulate you. That is a bad thing.

An Alter Ego

The easiest way to hold a position of authority is to act like you belong there. This requires gaining careful control of your facial expressions, your voice and your body language. You have to ensure that you avoid telling your students much about yourself and focus on telling them everything about Science. There will always be a class that you get close to who you break this rule for, but your average student should not know where you live, your marital status and what you do for fun. Let them think you go into power-saving mode at night in the staffroom. If they ask questions about  you, just ask them the same question. It’s an easy deflection that usually works.

Here are some examples of items that help you to maintain your Science persona:

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Here are some essential wardrobe items to help you maintain your ‘appropriate teacher’ persona:

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These are the ideas and things that have really saved my life!

Please feel free to contribute below anything else that you have to add 🙂