Friday, June 19, 2009

And week will have an end . . .

This week has been five days of Fridays.

Each time I came home it felt like the end of the week and my body and brain behaved accordingly and tried to shut down week day responses and relax into my weekend style. As packing has dominated this week, my weekend approach was to look forward to a couple of day’s intensive action to get thee bulk of the ‘stuff packed.’ I then had to adjust violently to the recognition that it wasn’t a Friday. I have done this throughout the week until today.

Today I left school early (legitimately) and bought a dishwasher, washing machine and refrigerator from El Corte Ingles. This sweeping purchase is on twelve months’ interest free credit and the total monthly payment is less than the amount that I have to pay to keep my books in prison in Bluespace!

A thoroughly unsatisfactory day in school today with too much baby sitting.

I also found myself as the only teacher on duty at lunchtime. It turned out that my two other colleagues were engaged in the taxing intellectual struggle with the evaluation of the dossiers of the so-called Credit of Synthesis by the pupils. The only problem, of course, was how to let everyone know that I was by myself.

Luckily an extrovert Australian colleague passed in the dinner queue at the apposite moment and being told he immediately went into information overdrive and spread the news. Bless!

Each time I return to Building 1 from lunch I have to pass a group of lads who are playing basketball. As I pass they beseech me pleadingly to attempt to shoot a basket - if that is the appropriate phrase to use. I think that they take malicious joy in my inept attempts to achieve something that they find remarkably easy. I have of course, given the law of averages, managed to achieve one of two baskets, but usually ignominy is my reward.

Today, after taking the boys (and girls) for two unsatisfactory lessons where I had to do little more than contain their itching boredom as they awaited their turn to perform for two assessors in another classroom, I was again invited to try my luck.

Two futile throws were more than enough for me so when offered the ball for a third time I merely threw it over my head backwards towards the ring. Needless to say it went in - and I had the bare faced arrogance to keep on walking away without a backward look to tumultuous applause as if such athletic successes were an everyday occurrence for me!

The next couple of days are going to be interesting as the pupils continue to be inadequately contained. The immediate future contains little of substance to deal with increasingly bored kids. Monday has a fun run (a contradiction in terms if ever I heard one) in which I am apparently involved, though no one has said anything to me yet.

I am beginning to understand the ways of this place.

I think.

As far as I can work out the kids have now all been dispatched to ‘other’ places and the only children still in the school are those taking the recuperation examinations. I am, of course, naturally, invigilating one of the examinations and my suspicions are beginning to harden about my use in various situations requiring a firm hand.

I am beginning to find a recurrence of the “Oh, Stephen!” syndrome which I thought that I had left behind me permanently in Llanishen High School. But no, here it is again surfacing in Barcelona as I seem to be a resource that can be used, very much in the same way that I used Morris Dancers in the Swansea Arts Festival of Swansea University – to fill gaps. And still I say nothing because I do not have a permanent contract!

Oh Joy!

I have just been given an intimation of my timetable for next year and there is no form tutorship involved. I have spent the whole of my career lying in interviews about how important the function of the form tutor was to me and how much I would be devastated if I were not able to shepherd a form through the troubled waters of the academic year!

I was praying that my less-than-perfect Spanish would protect me from the horror of being a form teacher in this school. Our kids are ‘needy’ in a way that I have not seen before – perhaps it’s something to do with their being able, nay encouraged, to call us by our first names. Whatever the reason, they are constantly moaning about their problems and the multitudinous injustices that they have to suffer on a daily basis. They are the sort of kids who will find every sort of explanation for their lack of progress apart from the obvious one of lack of work on their part!

The other face of this coin is that the pupils are very friendly and are generally able to be controlled. What are virtually uncontrollable are their inability to shut up and their chronic lack of listening skills. You can see why at the end of my first week as a Spanish form teacher my classroom would look like a gamekeeper’s larder with the corpses of various children hanging from hooks on the wall!

According to a few chance words from the head of English my timetable next year would be much the same as this year with the loss of a Year 10 and the gaining of a second sixth form class – sounds ok to me.

My campaign to point up the injustice of my not being paid over the summer continues apace with the odd words casually breathed in receptive ears. I doubt that it will all have any effect at all and it almost certainly won’t gain me any more money and, as I keep saying, without a permanent contract I am in a very vulnerable position.

Roll on September!
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