I’m linking up with the lovely Sara at mumturnedmom again this week for her new linky ‘The Prompt’. I really enjoyed reading all the other posts that linked up last week. It’s interesting to see everyone’s different takes on the same prompt.
And so, to this weeks prompt…
I was saddened by………….
I was saddened by a tweet I read this week in which someone said the TV documentary Educating Yorkshire, which this week won a National Television Award for Best Documentary Series, made them “despair for our education in this country”. As a secondary school teacher myself it made me think about the impression those with no experience of secondary education, other than their own, have of our schools today.
I live in Fife, in the east of Scotland and in my four years of teaching I have taught in four different schools. Three of those schools have a high proportion of pupils from low income families. The school I taught in most recently over 40% of pupils are eligible for free school meals. The pupils I deal with every day (when I’m not on maternity leave that is) are not dissimilar to those kids you see on programmes like Educating Yorkshire, or Educating Essex which came before it.
A lot of the kids I teach are often labelled as ‘challenging’. It’s been in the news recently that two-fifths of newly qualified teachers leave the profession within five years. To me this is a shocking, but not surprising statistic. According to the Ofsted Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw – “Many new recruits are quitting the classroom because they are inadequately prepared for dealing with unruly pupils”. And I can believe it; behaviour of some pupils in some schools is appalling. If you’ve seen Educating Yorkshire you might have an idea of the kind of things pupils get up to – if you haven’t let me give you a few examples of the kind of behaviour that I have had to deal with in my four short years as a teacher:
- I have been sworn at more times than I care to remember
- I have kids flatly refusing to follow any instructions they are given
- I rarely get through a lesson without having to send someone out of the room for causing a disruption
- I have, on two separate occasions, had pupils overturn their desks in anger
- I have waited more than 15 minutes for a class to stop talking so I could start the lesson. (I tried every tactic I could think of to get them to be quiet – in the end, waiting it out seemed the best option)
- I have kids pushing or hitting each other almost daily
- I have had two 14 year old boys have a fight in my classroom, with chairs, when I was about 5 months pregnant!
- And that’s not to mention the general chatter, answering back and disrespect that happens in every lesson.
I can understand why some new teachers can’t cope with the behaviour they have to deal with. I’ve been lucky that in every school I have worked in there has been a decent behaviour policy in place which is backed up by support from senior members of staff. And there are always some kids who are well behaved, who do want to work and to learn. I’m sure there are schools where the general standard of behaviour is better, but to some degree or another wherever you find kids, you will find badly behaved kids. There have been many times over the last four years where I’ve thought I couldn’t cope, that I had made the wrong decision by going into teaching and if you look at the way teaching is portrayed in the media then you would wonder why anyone would do it.
But this is what makes me sad; we shouldn’t despair over the state of education in this country, although I’ll be the first to admit I’m glad I teach in Scotland, out of the reach of Michael Gove and all the terrible decisions he keeps making about education in England. Because, these kids don’t need despairing over, they need help to overcome whatever it is that makes them behave the way they do. They need some hope, that if they work hard at school then they can achieve, that they can make something of themselves. My main role, as a teacher, is not to teach these kids French or Spanish. It’s to teach them how to respect one another, how to work with other people, how to communicate, how to trust that there are adults who will do their best for them, how to ask for help, how to become responsible members of society.
There are no excuses for bad behaviour, but there are often reasons behind it. Some of the kids I teach just don’t know any better. Maybe, the kid who is falling asleep at his desk, or staring out of the window in a daze didn’t go to bed until 1am last night because he had to stay up and look after his little sister while his mum was working the night shift at the 24 hour supermarket because that’s the only job she can get. Maybe the kid who shouts and swears is just following the example of his dad, because that’s what he does when he wants something. Maybe the boy who is having a fight is so angry with everyone because he lives in a children’s home and when he sees his mum every third month she makes him promises she can’t keep and it takes the next month for his teachers and support workers to get him back on track. Maybe the boy who can’t sit still in his seat and keeps shouting out the answers is really trying his best to keep his ADHD under control but sometimes his impulses are stronger than he can manage.
So I try to understand why these kids are acting the way they are (and believe me, their stories make me feel sad every day), and I do what I can to show them the right way to act, the right way to behave, and therefore, hopefully, the right way to learn. I set consistent boundaries and I stick to them. I don’t let them get away with poor behaviour but nor do I just shout at them, because sometimes they spend their time at home being shouted at, adding my voice to the mix isn’t going to get them to do what I need them to do. So I talk to them, I reason with them and I get them to do what I need them to do but I make them think that it was their idea. And I know that there are thousands of teachers out there who are working their asses off to do the very best they can for all the kids that they teach. So don’t despair for the state of education in our country. There’s really no need.
So we’re into week three in the I Heart Snapping Living Arrows project. Toby was sat in his highchair in the kitchen while I did the washing up. He was very happy playing with his new toy that he got for Christmas. I really like this toy because not only is it wooden and really well made instead of being plastic and noisy and liable to break, it also has suckers on the bottom so I can stick it to his highchair tray and he can’t throw it on the floor! So while we were in the kitchen I noticed the light was pretty good so I decided to grab the camera and see what we could get. And this is the result…
I’m linking up with Katie at Mummy Daddy Me again this week for some more ‘Ordinary Moments’.
At Christmas we gave Toby his first food to play with. He has eaten a few things since then but he doesn’t really seem that interested at the moment. Still, I’m trying to give him the opportunity to eat at least once a day and this week he tried porridge for the first time!
I wasn’t sure if he had actually eaten any or not, he seemed to spit most of it out. That was until the next day’s nappy – then I was sure he had definitely eaten some! And I will leave you with that image….it is after all a very ordinary moment for all parents of young children!
I’m linking up this week with the lovely Sara at mumturnedmom for her shiny new linky ‘The Prompt’. Each week Sara will provide a prompt – the rest is up to you. I’m already joining in with a few photo linkys so the idea of one focusing on the writing appealed to me and hopefully I’ll be able to join in every week. You can read more about why Sara decided to start the prompt here.
So without further ado…this weeks prompt…
Guilt to motherhood is like grapes to wine. Fay Weldon
It is morning. I hear my baby wake up and start babbling to himself. I don’t get up, I wait. He goes quiet, I turn over and go back to sleep. Ten minutes later I hear him again so I drag myself out of bed to go to him. He is happy, lying in his cot and grinning at me, but I feel guilty in case he has been lying awake and waiting for me.
I sit on the sofa, scrolling through Twitter on my phone. My six month old son is lying on the floor, wriggling and reaching for his toys. He is happy and yet I feel guilty that I am not giving him one hundred percent of my attention, that I am not down there on the floor playing with him.
My boy is in bed having a nap. I hear him wake up and call out. I don’t go to him straight away. I just nip to the loo first and get the washing out of the dryer before I go and get him. He is happy looking at the stars and planets on his wall and yet I feel guilty that I don’t go to him as soon as I hear he is awake.
We go out to the park to meet our friends. Toby is sat on my knee whilst we chat. He reaches out and tries to grab the teapot which only a few minutes earlier contained boiling water. I move it away and he is fine, the teapot was cool, and yet I feel guilty that I didn’t think to move it out of his reach earlier.
Home from the park, and it’s time for bed again. My son loves to sleep and I know he needs his nap and I yet I feel guilty as I hope he sleeps for a few hours, so that afterwards I don’t have to entertain him for too long before it’s time to go and pick up his daddy from the station.
Only an hour until bedtime. The little bear is happy playing with his daddy and yet I feel guilty for counting down the minutes until we can have some time to ourselves.
My baby is clean and ready for bed. He lies on his daddy’s knee having his last bottle before bed. I kiss him good night and tell him that I love him. He is happy……… and so am I.
This is my second photo in the I Heart Snapping Living Arrows project. I’m looking forward to Toby being able to sit up on his own so I can take some pictures from a different angle. At the moment it has to be on his tummy or lying on his back. I’m not sure what had caught his eye here but I love the expression on his face!
I’m linking up with Katie at Mummy Daddy Me again this week for some more ‘Ordinary Moments’. I’ve even managed to get my post written and published on the day the linky opens instead of in the middle of the week!
I know babies develop quickly and sometimes it seems like they learn to do something new every week, but for us this skill has been a while coming. Toby has been almost rolling over for a couple of months it seems. He would manage it every once in a while but I think that was more a fluke than on purpose. Until this week that is. Toby has now well and truly mastered rolling over. But only from his back to his front and only to his right side. And now he literally won’t stay on his back for more than a minute (or sometimes even a second!). Which would be fine except that he hasn’t worked out how to roll back again so when he gets fed up of being on his front (which happens quite quickly sometimes) he shouts for someone to come and help him turn back on his back. And as soon as you do he promptly rolls onto his front again….And repeat, ad infinitum!
The last few mornings this is the view I’ve been greeted with when I’ve gone into get Toby up. I’m not sure if he is rolling over straight away and then sleeping on his tummy all night, or just rolling over when he wakes up. I suspect he might be sleeping on his tummy all night though. When I popped my head in while he was napping the other day he was sleeping on his front. I don’t mind if he is – we have a Angelcare movement sensor monitor (which I’d highly recommend by the way) so I’m not worried about him burying his face in the mattress – apart from the fact he always used to wake up in the mornings and lie happily chatting to himself until we went to get him and now he starts grunting and groaning with the effort of trying to turn back over before starting to shout if we don’t go and get him pretty quick.
Hopefully it won’t be long before he masters rolling back the other way and then he can be whichever way he chooses. And then it won’t be long before he’s on the move! I love seeing Toby learn new things but it’s all happening so fast!!
I Heart Snapping is a collaboration between several photographer-blogger-mums. It’a all about using photography to capture those special moments in your children’s lives. I mentioned in my 2014 plans post that I wanted to take some better photos for the blog and learn how to use my husband’s DSLR. To that end I have decided to join in with I Heart Snapping’s Living Arrows project; one photo a week but it has to be a good ‘un, taken on the proper camera. No iPhone snaps allowed for this one! Hopefully over the year this will be a record not only of Toby’s growth and development but also a record of my improving photography skills.
So without further ado, here’s the first one…