Wednesday 25 April 2018

Diary of a Schoolteacher: Teachers have it easy? Try dealing with problem pupils like Aaron...

My brother F has me trapped in his car, giving me a lift. Off he goes: 'You're such a spoofer, E! I've read your diary, and there's no way it can be true! All that stuff about kids running wild and making threats is rubbish.

Teachers have it easy!' The only answer is to give him one example of how it is for me dealing with a single individual pupil. Here it is.

I pass third year's Aaron, on my way to take his class roll at nine. He's bolt upright leaning against the wall beside the entrance doors.

He's obviously very stressed; his face is bright red and he's muttering to himself.

"Are you all right, Aaron?" seems the most neutral approach. He tells me to f- off, so I leave him. Got a whole class waiting for me somewhere else.

Later I find Aaron sitting down at the computer next to mine in the IT room. The fact that he's not present in class is not an issue. He rarely is. He just walks out.

"How do I get this computer to work, Sir?" Might as well show him -- teach him as he's willing to learn. An hour later I meet him in the corridor. He's got his coat on and he's obviously waiting for one of the girls to exit the loos and go home with him.

"Nice coat," I remark. He tells me he got it in Dunnes. "Good value, Sir, they have them in your size." He makes it to my class after the deputy principal pushes him through the doorway and orders him to stay put. He sits down at the back of the room and stares wistfully out the window at the free world outside. I ask him to listen. "Go away, you fool," he replies.

No books, pen or bag, but if I send him out to his locker he'll run off again. Ten minutes before the end of class he gets up and leaves with a, "class is over, Sir.'

I forget about him until I'm in a shop with my son that afternoon and he enters flanked by two side-kicks. At a signal, my young fellow swiftly makes his exit. No point in getting beaten up because your oul fella's a teacher.

I brace myself but all Aaron has to say is, "there's my class teacher!" and gets on with chasing his mates around the premises.

One teacher, one kid, one day. All true. Now multiply that by four for each class and then by another 12 for each year and imagine every sort of obstructive and negative behaviour that teenagers can come up with, then you've got an idea of what modern teaching is like.

It doesn't matter if the rest are angels. You need a lot of patience and understanding as kids like Aaron make it hard to get some actual teaching done.

I'm not complaining -- just trying to explain to whingers like my brother, that in fact, we don't "have it easy".

E GRADE

Irish Independent

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