Things I Didn't Learn at the Faculty of Ed
Reflections on My First Year of Teaching
by Lynne Ainsworth
A funny thing happened on the way to the classroom. My arches fell.
No, really. After six weeks on the job I went from open-toe sandals to
black pumps to loafers
It must be payback for all the summer and weekend hours I spent on my feet working retail. Come to think of it, teaching is a lot like being a sales clerk - you stand on your feet all day, smile at the customers and sell a product.
did it come to this?
I could hear the clock ticking - not that clock (it tolled 16 years ago). Suddenly a list of all the things I ever wanted to do and hadn't done popped up.
One day you're thinking it's time for a new hairdo; the next thing you know you're filling out applications for teachers' college. In the long run a Harley-Davidson and a tattoo would have been cheaper and a whole lot cooler.
But off I went. I cashed in the RRSPs, bought a backpack and a bus pass.
Nine months later I graduated. At OISE they introduced us to Gardner's
nine intelligences, showed us how to write a lesson plan and gave us Tribes
training. Out we marched, new recruits ready to conquer the classroom.
But there are a few things the faculty of ed didn't share about the profession.
This piece of furniture harkens back to the one-room schoolhouse. It's purpose, however, remains unclear because no teacher ever gets to sit at one, unless the teacher is starring in a television sitcom.
One theory is that the desk serves as a repository for all things students should not have in their possession and for some things they should, like the writing assignment that is due today.
In desperation one might lean against it or even perch on the edge, but these momentary uses are not to be confused with the other world of work where people actually sit at desks.
There's always a lineup for the ladies room
Learning to go on schedule takes training. By the end of the year your bladder will be accustomed to the teaching timetable, but in the meantime serious consideration is given to purchasing a set of undergarments most of us didn't think we'd need until our golden years.
If it's Tuesday, it must be Grade 3 day
Few principals will risk a free-for-all, so in the interest of fair play, the governance of the playground is judiciously divided among the grades. It's your job to interpret the treaty. This is no small feat. Those who have the right to play on the swings and climbers will look to you to enforce the rules of engagement. They will come right up to you and demand justice.
"Miss, see that boy there? He's not supposed to be here. It's not his day."
You look in the general direction of the pointing finger. "Which boy?" you ask.
"That boy!" And the child gestures to a sea of moving bodies swinging, hanging and hiding in the climber.
"What's he wearing?"
"He's the boy in the blue coat."
You march over to send this interloper back to the blacktop, where he joins his comrades to plot a coup d'etat.
Just as you dispatch one intruder, another takes his place. Is there any duty more painful than the playscape? You bet there is.
shalt not pass
Nothing is more important than preventing students from slipping into the school unnoticed. The entry door must be carefully guarded. Permission must be asked and granted of the guard on duty to use the washroom or get a drink from the magical water fountain.
With this duty comes the burden of knowing that many who pass do so for devious purposes. Be on the lookout for clandestine meetings of Grade 6 girls who retire to the stalls to apply sparkly stuff to their hair and face. Who knew makeup could be worth the risk of being marched out into the harsh bright sunlight, or worse, a chat with the principal on the merits of gel versus roll-on.
Chalk - the miracle tool
Who among us is truly prepared the first time such generosity is shown? Picking up the unwrapped candy out of the outstretched hand, I popped it in my mouth. Now I know how the folks on Fear Factor feel when they screw up enough courage to eat worms. As I swallowed I kept wondering when was the last time this student had washed her hands.
The trick, of course, is to take the treat and find some excuse for not immediately eating it. Say thanks for sharing, wrap it up and tell the student you'll enjoy it later. Don't even think about tossing it in the trash; it will be found. Wait until you're a safe distance from school before disposing of it.
Rah, rah, sis-boom-bah!
Dismissing the dressing up - or down, if you prefer - as child's play
simply will not do. Don't underestimate the Brownie points you'll earn
from the principal, who takes one look at your getup and feels instant
relief knowing he or she is not the most ridiculous looking member of