Education, Life Experience

My thank you to my high school internship

Welcome to Brigshaw High School, where everyone is happy and nothing ever goes wrong.

What is ironic about this statement is that this is how I used to view school. When I was here as a student I loved it, the teachers were great, I had friends and I was getting good grades. Since coming back, however, it’s felt like a different story. I thought I wanted to be a teacher, but these last ten months have made it clear to me that I categorically don’t. I think as an ex-student it’s been ten times more difficult than it would be for a brand spanking new member of adult staff, because with some teachers, they have come across as if they can’t handle it. Without holding a grudge or becoming bitter about this last academic year, I have learnt a lot – it’s been an interesting and revealing experience and I don’t regret taking this opportunity for one second. Rather than take up a PGCE qualification and wasting a year of time, energy and money, I have earnt my way through a full school year, taking in everything I have learnt and feeling grateful that I have not thrown my life away into education just yet. Being at a challenging high school for a year has encouraged me to think that I might look into teaching one day, maybe when the age gap between me and some of the students is more than five years. One of the factors of not wanting to be a teacher is that I don’t feel wise enough yet, I haven’t finished learning and I’m not prepared to mould the next generation just yet; I’m still having my day.

I was afraid of teenagers when I was a teenager and that hasn’t changed. They can be pretty intimidating with their outrageous hairstyles, their strange language (like, what does dench even mean?!) and their absolutely solid attitudes. They’re not afraid of you and if you’re fresh meat with a nervous face like me, they know exactly how scared you are of them. There are only so many times that saying ‘I’m going to report that!’ in a squeaky voice is going to make them laugh before they become completely immune and deaf to it. But as we know from GCSE Media Studies (or mine 7 years ago, anyway), teenagers aren’t all bad; that’s just a nasty stereotype that The Mirror and The Sun have shoved down the public’s throats for years now. Some kids at school were lovely, mature and so easy to help and get on with. The ones I didn’t have to chase around the school, the ones I didn’t have to yell at in the middle of a lesson and turn myself into a shaking piece of meat, the ones I didn’t have to refrain from telling they would never succeed if they carried on in this way. Some actually wanted to be at school and they were the ones that made my days feel like they meant something.

Now, I’ve voiced pretty strong opinions since starting at school and I haven’t necessarily agreed with the way that they have run things. I didn’t agree that as a group of new members of staff, we were constantly referred to as the collective of ‘The Interns’ (and never in a positive way), even last week when some of us left. There was nothing personal about being in that group and it never felt like other staff truly accepted us because they could group us together and use us as one great big scapegoat. I also didn’t agree with having little to no training even though there were a whole five training days. In my personal experience, I was expected to work with certain students who had life-threatening conditions and being left alone with them before having training on their conditions and how to work with them was something that I could never quite understand or get on board with. We did have some training a few weeks into September, but by then it felt too late to me. And don’t get me wrong, the training that we did receive was good and well delivered by people that I eventually got quite close to, but I can’t really forgive the school for not giving it sooner, or even giving me (and us) a heads up.

I want to thank the school for giving me the experience that I gained; to be able to respond to an aggressive teenager without swearing at them; to be able to improvise when thrown in a room alone with thirty eleven year olds; to be able to find something to do when faced with sitting in an exam room; and to be able to smile when everything is gradually crumbling inside. I’ve been employed for a year, pretty much as soon as I finished uni (after working at Carluccio’s restaurant for a week – never again, dear god), and I’ve been able to pay my rent easily for the last ten months without much worry – something that is looking bleak at the moment. I’ve made friends all over again; people who I thought I wouldn’t see again and who have helped me through this year. I’ve made friends with some of the teachers, something that I wasn’t necessarily expecting and I met some awesome sixth formers who I hope to keep in touch with.

What I sometimes feel, though, as I start my new job in York, is that I’ve wasted the last year doing something that won’t further my career. I feel like I could or should have been putting my energy into something more relevant to me, and I just wonder where I would be now if that had been the case. I know, though, that teaching is not for me (yet) and that I want to be my own boss one day. I know more about myself and what I’m capable of so where it’s been a really difficult year, it has been enriching on a personal level and now it’s over and done with I can look back and see the positives rather than the extremely dark days.

Education, Life Experience

To Draft or not to Redraft?

This morning got me thinking. Sitting among a class of year 9’s being taught English and how to write a newspaper article led me to ponder – this happens an awful lot now that I am basically back at school – about blog writing. The teacher stood at the front talking about how your first draft is never your final, never the one that you take to the editor and I thought to myself that I never actually re-read my blog posts. Anything could be in there and I wouldn’t notice. But is this because I can’t be bothered or I feel like I don’t need to? Am I at that age in life where I feel like I don’t need to redraft simply because there isn’t anybody there to look at it? Or is it because blogging is such a fast-paced piece of writing to do that there isn’t any time to redraft and think about it? As a blogger should I be more responsible and look over my work, two, three, four times? Or is that a part of the charm of reading a blog – you know that the writer has literally poured their heart into it without a moment’s notice and essentially you get what you’re given.

I have no idea.

Of course, there are no answers – using my rhetorical questions there as a literary technique to spice things up a little and did you see my tripling earlier? This is what year 9 English is doing to me. Not only has it encouraged me to think more carefully about my writing (although I doubt I’m going to read this back before I publish) but I have started writing fiction again after their descriptive writing activities and I have recently started reading a book (I never read). Being at school is actually making me a better person, dontcha know.

I’m also keeping up with my editing skills by making a nice video about the school for their website. Marketing. Yeah.

love blogging

P.S I know the title doesn’t make much sense, I liked it, back off 😉

Education, Life Experience

Feeling 22 (At Least)

Age is a funny thing. Like, actually weird. I turned 22 on Saturday, what even is that?

I’m working at a school, whereas 3 months ago, I was living the life at uni, going out three times a week, going to bed when I pleased, waking up when I’m actually awake. Now, I’m up at 05:45, taking an hour to travel to and from work and I am working my butt off with kids that I never thought I would meet.

It’s fine. It’s a fine job, it’s not a problem. But it’s hard. It’s hard working in a school when you are constantly faced with kids and their personal lives that they bring to the school.

High schools seem terrifying to other people – “How can you possibly work with teenagers?! They’re horrible!” My answer to that is they can be horrible. But so can middle aged people that you might work with in your high rise office. You get good and bad in everybody and that is no different with kids in a high school.

One of the most difficult things I find, however, is motivation. Because I am essentially an assistant for kids who need that extra help within lessons, the students that I work with are not always keen to be in school which of course makes the job difficult but also interesting. Naturally, at first I was frustrated with them and would get mad at them but now, I sit back and talk them into it. It’s much easier now, obviously because I’ve been working with them for like 10 weeks and now they kinda know me (even got a birthday card off one charming sixth former).

It is a scary job, there’s no denying that. There’s the fear of having a constantly changing day at school and there’s the fear of getting something wrong because you are literally working with a person and contributing to their future life and development. That’s a scary thing. Even though I’m not a teacher and I only see some of the kids once a week, I am still there and I am something to do with their school career. Let’s just hope I’m doing it right and not making a fool of myself (which is a very easy thing to do in this sector).

To finish off, here is my anthem for the next 12 months.