A daily photo-blog of my life as an American transplanted in the UK.
Friday, 18 March 2011
Y3 - 169/365: It's All So Backwards!
Bless him. Couldn't figure out where the "go" button was. It's been a long week for all of us.
Walking the two miles from the train station today didn't seem to take as long as it usually does. Then again, that could be because my mind was racing with so many other things that I didn't notice that I was traveling the route without much thought as to my surroundings and where I was going. I was anxious to see the kids for the last time, anxious to see my new T.A. friend and explain the whole story to her since she had been out, and also rehearsing how I would break the news to the students that they would be getting now a FOURTH teacher for the year and I would no longer be with them.
I signed in at the office and immediately went to my room to prepare for morning lessons. My own T.A., who has been helpful in some instances and a huge thorn in others, told me she was going to prepare downstairs for the assembly as our class was doing a performance. She then asked what I had planned for the afternoon since it was Red Nose Day and each class was supposed to have planned a fund-raising activity. I told her I didn't recall being told I had to do this so I didn't have anything planned but would figure something out. She then went on to harp about how it was mentioned in briefing and blah, blah, blah...well, forgive me if I hadn't been mentally including myself with the rest of the staff at the school knowing all the while that today, Friday, would be my last day. So, this is when I clued her in that I wouldn't be back after today. I didn't get into the details since I didn't care to be gossiped about, so I told her I asked my agency to find me another school...which is true as I did make this request. I just left out the bit about the school's un-professionalism towards me.
She didn't seem phased in the slightest and I suspect she was secretly happy. I don't think she liked the fact that I took control and made some changes to put my own stamp on the class. She was pretty "old school" in the sense that she wanted to keep things the same and wanted me to follow in the ways things had been set up from the start of the year, despite them clearly not working for this class.
Oh well, I won't miss her.
She asked that I take the children down to the hall at 5 minutes to 9 so they could help set up, so I agreed. However, between collecting the childrens' money for Red Nose Day and parents coming in to question about the assembly, we were only just lining up at 9am, which is when my T.A. had returned to the classroom to question why I hadn't brought them down yet. I reminded her that I had parents with questions and students aren't even required to be in our room until 5 to 9, so it takes a bit more time than simply lining them up. She snapped at me to not raise my voice to her and I had to assure her I was not doing any such thing, simply explaining that it wasn't possible. She felt, however, I could have just ignored the parents and told them I didn't have time to speak to them.
Wow. Really? Right, because that would be totally professional of me.
The kids did a wonderful job performing the story of The Ugly Duckling at assembly and singing 'Don't Worry, Be Happy.' As people were leaving and the class was tidying up, a parent of one of the boys in my class approached me to compliment the class on their performances. I remember this parent had told me when we first met only 3 weeks ago that her son didn't deal well with change, so I pulled her aside for a quick word to explain how I wouldn't be returning, in case he had any questions over the weekend or in case there was any change in his behaviour. She was quite upset that the school would do this yet again and told me she really appreciated me letting her know. I know, as a parent, I would be furious if my child was constantly getting a new teacher and the school wasn't making me aware of this.
The children returned to the classroom where we began our literacy lesson and then they went out for morning play. When they returned, one of the girls approached me with tears in her eyes that someone had taken her red nose from her tray. I asked the person who took it to step forward and be honest, but no one budged. So then I told the class I would give the person until lunch time to come to me and return the red nose anonymously and no one else would have to know. I pointed out that their classmate was in tears and how even if it was meant as a joke, it was really hurtful to her.
Then surprisingly, ten minutes into our numeracy lesson, one of the boys raised his hand. He said he was thinking about what I had said about his classmate being in tears and it really made him feel bad for making her feel that way as he was the one who took her red nose. At this he pulled it out of his pocket to return it.
Such a shame my time with the group was closer and closer to being cut short and they had no idea.
At lunch time, I sat quietly in my room eating my sandwich and contemplating how and when I would let the kids know. That's when I see the headteacher walk into my room to inform me they were actually sending me home then and still going to pay me for the rest of the day. She said she wanted to introduce their new teacher and give her a chance to start getting to know the class -- a courtesy I was not given when I began work here. I asked her if she would allow me to stay until they came back in from play so I could say goodbye and she agreed. I didn't want them to think I had just abandoned them.
When the children began to filter back into the room at half-one the headteacher was ushering them to their seats and a fresh new face was already in the room standing next to me. The head began by telling the children there was going to be "a bit of a change" and that they were going to have a new teacher effective immediately and I would no longer be teaching them. At this they all started looking at each other with puzzled looks and asking why. The head then gave me the floor so I could say what I needed to say to them.
I had rehearsed in my head that if I had to say goodbye to them in front of anyone, I would make sure to show the progress I have made with them in the way I was able to grab their attention, so I stepped to the front of the room and began...
"Class, class." I said. And without missing a beat, they all sat up straight and tall and replied, as they were taught, "yes, yes." Their immediate cooperation had such an effect on me that I immediately teared up despite praying that I wouldn't. I wanted to hug each and every one of them but knew the administration were just trying to get me out of there as soon as possible, so I did my best to compose myself. I told them that it was true I would no longer be with them, but that I would miss them so much and I wanted them to really think about the choices they were making in how they were behaving and that I wanted them to do their best work every day. I reminded them that I would check up to see how they were doing as well.
They gave me some "good luck" wishes and told me they would miss me too.
From this point, I picked up my bag and coat, gave one last wave and exited the room before I felt my cheeks flame up with tears. The look on their faces was heartbreaking to me because here was a group of inner-city school children who had little to no respect for any adult authority, actually showing empathy over someone who actually wanted to take the time to know them and who cared for them so much in such a short amount of time.
I walked all the way to the train station fighting back tears, got back to Rowley and carried on walking back up to the house.
I tried working out in the garden for a bit to get my mind of things, but I felt so incredibly vacant. I just wanted to curl up in a ball because although I was still technically employed by my supply agency, I felt as though I had just been sacked and not even for a reason that was truly within my control.
Some Ryan-cuddles helped a bit when he returned home and so did a phone call later from another supply agency ringing to schedule me in for an interview next week. I can't afford now to not have work and that means I can't afford to sit around and wait for my one agency to ring me...so just being a bit proactive on my side.
I know things will get better in time, but the whole nature of the situation has really done a number on my self-esteem.
After two and a half years in a long-distance relationship, I packed my life of 29 years into 21 boxes and moved to England to marry and be with my husband, Matt. Now I'm reveling in the youth of my 30s in Great Britain, supply-teaching in primary schools near Birmingham and enjoying newlywed life, being a mommy, and all the surprises they bring!