When I first decided to become a teacher, I was 17 and had no experience of “the real world”. I applied for university, racked up £30k of debt, and never looked back. On a daily basis, I’m entrusted with 29 wee darlings and spend more time with them than their parents. How fucking lucky am I?
Throughout my training and working career I have worked with different age groups, all the way from 3 years old up to 11. There are always the good days, the bad days, the days you wish you never bothered and the days you wonder if you should just go back to working in a call centre, abusing your wrap time to read the Daily Mail. There are always “money can’t buy moments”; some where you’re proud of what you’ve achieved and other times you can’t help but stifle a laugh at the child stood in front of you.
Let’s start with the youngest – my least favourite age group to teach – nursery.
1. You really can’t appreciate children this small unless you’ve bore child yourself.
- They are so tactile. By this I’m simply referring to one of my experiences of teaching this age during my first ever teaching placements. It was January, snowing outside, I had not long been finished by my ex and the teacher insisted on leaving the door open so children could roam in and out, like the pack of feral animals they were. ‘Twas all well and good until a child rubbed my right tit vigorously, telling me I had something on my top. Correct. I had a nipple on from the outside conditions and this unsuspecting child thought I had a mark on my un-ironed top. Never again.
Moving slightly through the school, bypassing key stage 1, as I only ever taught Year 2 there and the kids were, well, somewhat normal.
Year 3. My NQT year. 31 children, whereby I could only see the good in 4 of them. The remaining 27 were kids only a mother could love. Before starting I was told, “you have the worst class in the school” which I always laughed off, until 3rd of September came around. During this ghastly year, I came into contact with children’s piss on more occasions I would ever want to admit. One day, one child urinated all over my carpet through laughing at the word Thursday. This repeated on a weekly occurrence for the foreseeable future, much to the disappointment of my cleaner who spent most evenings scrubbing at my pissy carpet.
I quickly realised that, in fact, I didn’t like many of these children. They all insisted on constantly badgering me, so I did as any sensible adult would do. I used masking tape to draw out a perimeter around my desk they couldn’t pass as it had been cursed by Santa and if you did, you’d get nothing for Christmas. One child crossed it accidentally and cried so hysterically they were sick. Still, I got a good 4 weeks or so without the snots coming near me.
One benefit people always believe there is to teaching are the gifts. By that I’m referring to the end of year presents (I once got 14 bottles of wine and 8 boxes of biscuits). During my NQT year, one child went to cadburys world. Lovely – 1 less book to mark in maths, English, topic and science for the day. Upon his return on the Monday, he produced a box of Cadburys Heroes – delicious. Cue his mother constantly bringing me different things to eat. I swear one week she gave me: Turkish delight, chocolate, cupcakes, biscuits, you name it! And for no apparent reason. ‘Excellent!’ you are probably thinking. Yes, great if they are store bought, wrapped and safe for human consumption. This particular lady had severe bowel problems and 13 cats. 13! Safe to say I never touched a single thing after the time when she told me she “had taken too much medicine and was so loose, she won slimmer of the week at slimming world”. Point proven.
Now as you get closer to the top of the school, the Year 5 and 6 classes, you realise that they really are 13 year olds who go to primary school. When teaching this age, you realise you’re fortunate enough to have kids who can do stuff for themselves but you’re also so unfortunate that you have to be surrounded by teenagers every day.
At my current workplace, we are two form entry, meaning we have 2 of each year group. Because of the burning distaste I have for my teaching partner, it’s so important I’m the “cool” teacher and I think that’s because she’s an absolute dick. To cement my “cool” teacher status, I play YouTube on a Friday whilst the kids draw and I mark books (am I shite staying past 4 on a Friday!). I was recently playing that Jax Jones song and didn’t realise there was a swear word in the lines. The kids were getting on and as soon as it said fuck, they all went silent.
“Shit play it cool!” I thought to myself. One of the kids raised their hand and told me it had just swore. I didn’t dare seem like I could make an error like that so I went ballistic. “I think I know more than you and wouldn’t play rude songs, don’t you?!” I roared in the face of a bewildered 9 year old. He nodded. I nodded. The whole class nodded in unison. I cancelled listening to music for the foreseeable future or until someone didn’t dare question me. Ha, suckers.
And although we may get 13 weeks holidays in the eyes of non-teachers, we work 12 hour days at least by the time we mark and assess. So there you go behind the desk, or rather, behind my masking tape marks on the floor!