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.