Saturday, July 25, 2009

Teaching drums on a table and other bedtime stories

So I’m on this Practicum that is so close to reality that I feel I just have to document it to remember it.

Normal Prac’s are a warm ball of idealistic word counts and theorist haziness. Everything can be improved and analysed for the greater good of the students.

Here’s the background to my current existence:

Once a yr for the last 3 yrs I’ve been dumped unceremoniously into an unsuspecting school on Prac–for as little as 2 weeks up to (this year) 2 months. On this Prac I write over the legal word limit, I nod off in class while ‘watching’ my supervisor wow me with their brilliance and nod my head when ever they blather to me about why they feel they are the best teacher. I then hide in the photocopy room for lunch or if I really daring- I walk around the playground (why do they call it that- high schoolers don’t “play”) and pretend I’m on duty- all in a daft effort to avoid other staff preying on a victim ear to vent their cynicism. I also invent elaborate tales as to where I’ve come from and what experience I have to justify my presence in a class full of well- lets be obvious here- students.

This is the Foreground:

I’m at this 2000+ (I’m sure I’ll have to know the statics accurately shortly) public school. Its uniform is stock standard moss green, with tartan lower half. Its co-ed and there are over 200 teacher/support staff. The staff room is themed bright red and blue with modern furnishing. The art dept still use blackboard while the music dept is a sharp contrast with mood lighting and a recording studio. I strongly suspect the principal bats for the other team (typical of woman in power in Nz sadly). Staff: hmm, it was just today that I found out a teacher was arrested for marijuana possession, other members of the staff range from leaky taps to stock standard army cadets. The students smell of cigarettes and hormones. There are more boys and the girls have cold knees because of the tartan belts they wear.
And now let’s fill in this canvas with detail.

I started 2 weeks before the end of term. During that first week there was a boiler explosion where 3 men were seriously injured and sadly one died. The school was hyper due to the media and days off school for the investigation. One thing I equally admired and hated about this school. The staff banded together as an absolute unit- I’ve never seen this in a public school before. There were morning teas shared lunches and morning teas and lunches and morning teas- I have now learnt that in order to support someone- you eat first. They were beautiful. But they completely neglected the students. Due to their worry that the media were going to twist the story- they never discussed any of it with the students. There was no de-brief assemblies of consequence, we (staff) were NOT allowed to mention his name to the students and if they at all showed signs of wear and tear- we had to shove victim support brochures in their face and send them on their way.

That weekend- after the After Ball of the School Ball, a 17yr old hung himself. A classmate did himself in. Again I was not allowed to mention his name to the students and to the teachers eye- School returned to normal by morning tea on Monday. Ugh those students are hurting and we can’t do a damn thing about it. It tears at my Christian heart.

Now- about my crazy supervisor. She is brilliant. British if that’s any key to your imagination. I watch her teach and I actually am furiously writing in my journal everything that comes out of her mouth. She has a sharp wit and an intimidating look that had me putting my hand up in response for hers when she demanded silence. I was scared to teach in front of her because anything I knew I would do- she would know how to do it better, faster and quicker. I have never felt nervous before standing in front of a class before this woman. She soon got bored of the fact that she had nothing left for me to teach because I absorbed her teaching style and completely plagiarised it. So she invented challenges. I had the task of going into a completely random poor yr 8 class who was on a practical lesson and absolutely yell at them (because believe it or not she thought I was shy and had to prove I could yell). So I did- I wrenched open the door with murder in my eye and I bullocked the socks off them about something I barely can remember and spun on my heel and would have slammed the door if it wasn’t on that stupid controlled hinge thing. Another challenge was to have them lined up in 2 lines outside, marching in, and sitting down and on task in record time all without saying a word.

So that was before the holidays. And now it is the beginning of term 3 and now she is gone- left to go to a school where they all have laptops and lapdog students. Pros and Con’s about her departure: Pro- I can now breathe easy with my new supervisor/HOD of music because she’s a gentle older lady called back from retirement. I also know the roped of the department and she is the one asking questions. Con- I have never been pushed so hard by a supervisor and totally on my toes. She was passionate and couldn’t care less about being politically correct or cynical. She had a job to do and she wanted to do it well. Sound sappy to say- but if I am a little bit like her I’ll be a very good teacher.

So right now because the supervisor is rubbing her weary eyes clean of retirement I have been given the opportunity to be welcomed to the real world of teaching. Its day 2 today and the reliever ran away so I taught a full day (first ever thank you very much) and because my supervisor was trying to interpret the new manual for her new computer I had the freedom of teaching my style to students I have built a rapport with and somehow that ended up with me on a desk demonstrating how to play the drums. And I loved it. I absolutely loved it. And that’s a bit of a relief because my poor parents have invested a bit in this degree.

So now I’ve proved my point- I spent 1159 words to tell you about my Prac- that’s not including the words I need to actually prove I was on it to my lecturers.


I used to run a few holiday programs. And where the programs were based there was this amazing wall. And the only way to legally take the kids pics against it- was if I incorperated a photoshoot into the progam. sneaky. It seems also semester I come back from college there is an additional family member- so included in this blog are some 2nd cousin shots too.