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:
However, on your first day as a teacher in a school, you feel more like this:
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:
I Fucking love Science
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.
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:
Here are some essential wardrobe items to help you maintain your ‘appropriate teacher’ persona:
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 🙂