High school staff office. Interior. Day. A loud argument between a student and a number of teachers continues on the outer side of the partly open door. “Oh my God, I’m not on PILLS!” the young girl cries out from the corridor, eliciting quiet chuckles and wry grins from the staff inside the room. The debate about whether the girl is harboring drugs or cough lollies continues to escalate while pens scratch and keys clatter inside. A university prac students flicks through papers and makes notes between bursts of typing on a notebook computer, attempting to masquerade over the fact that he has nothing to do. Idle hands are devil’s play things, and the devil loves to give prac students marking to do. It begins to rain outside.
My first day at the new school was fairly gentle, and I can assume the same will be true for today. I am only asked to observe classes, and this morning I have the first periods of the day free to myself. When I am teaching a full load, highly caffeinated and stressing the tether between myself and sanity, this will be a great spot to take some time to myself and to do some lesson planning. Right now however, it is time to do approximately jack squat and type up some notes on my experience so far.
My mentor teacher at this school is, at a guess, roughly half the age of my last one. Considering my last one was sixty however, it’s not as bad as it sounds. I hope. The idea of mentoring is that the senior teacher uses all of their years of experience and wisdom to help the student teacher become a better educator, so I’m not sure of the implications there when the mentor teacher is still relatively green themselves. It also doesn’t bode well for my impressions that he marks his students on ‘ergonomics’. As he put it “if you have to tell them to sit up straight all the time”. This is one of four categories on which the students are marked , the combination of which makes up their grade for a project. This seems quietly ridiculous to me, but hey, I’m not the one who is going to have to say “Well Ms Johnson, little Timmy would’ve made the cutoff for engineering, but he has bad posture.”.
Judging from some of the IT classes I sat in on yesterday, one where the teacher read out definitions of ‘lurking’, ‘netiquette’ and ’emoticons’ from a computing textbook, I don’t think it’s going to be an arduous task getting these kids on side by giving them something half-way interesting to do. And I’m pretty confident that the same logic applies to the science class I’ll be teaching, where yesterday the teacher handed out some heat transfer worksheets and at the end of the lesson passed on to me the little gem of knowledge “Another day, another dollar.” Truly inspirational stuff. But it’s not all bad here, the staff toilets are very fancy, even the Gents has tiles, fake marble vanities and large mirrors, while the staff room is roughly the size of the Dominican Republic and is referred to by staff as ‘the QANTAS lounge’ due to unsettling parallels in decor.
It doesn’t feel as all-round warm and friendly here as it did at my last school, and there seem to be more of the ‘living dead’ style “When’s my retirement?” variety of teachers here as well, but it shouldn’t be too bad. At least there’s free coffee. And from what I could gather from the lung capacity trials outside, it turns out that the girl did, in fact, have a roll of throat lozenges and her teacher is, apparently, a “grumpy cow”. I miss out on all of the fun stuff.