Words of warning and welcome:

This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. Obviously it started out as a blog about my cross-dressing but it has developed a great deal since then. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the New Readers' Page above this and the tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!

Saturday, 31 March 2012

I didn't get where I am today

I find the sentiment to be appropriate.  It's a Pet Shop Boys song (see video at the end) that I've often found clever.  The chorus suggests that more will follow, and usually it does, such as "without living that old cliche" or "without getting in someone's way".  Toward the end though they just repeat "I didn't get where I am today" with no completion of the statement.  To me it suggests something else.  I don't know exactly what they're driving at, but it resonates with me.  I really believe that I didn't get where I am today.  I'm a teacher.

A lazy student: that's me.  However, I was considerably
less pretty and visually appealing while doing it.
Calculating and bearded, well, slightly, maybe; but
not pretty.
I never wanted to teach, when people suggested it to me as a potential option given my long university career I always said that I would never have the patience and that I would be far too wordy and boring.  Nevertheless, being useless with dates and lazy meant that I missed the deadline for applying for a Doctorate in History and was told I'd have to wait another calendar year.  Having used most of my savings to pay for my MA and not fancying a year of working in a shop (I'd used that to supplement my savings in my MA) or something equally banal I went looking for a year's course that would keep me in education and safe from the Real World (tm).  I alighted on teaching as there was a £6000 bursary and I figured that it was a year long.  All I had to do was stick the course and then apply for a Doctorate at the end and move on, having hopefully lived frugally enough to keep some of the bursary back as savings to pay my way through it.

I got the gig, without actually being prepared, there was no way I did it alone.  I had failed to prepare, as asked, a presentation on effective teaching and really mooched through the tests and the process.  I put the fact that I got on the course entirely down to God. I'd attended a school as an observer, as suggested, and ended up being scared witless by the students and the stresses of school life.  I hated it.  I used to go home after a day there practically crying (I managed to fail on that after the first day and had a rude awakening when some of the students I'd met that day passed me and I had to hide the tears).  I fully believed that I would fail the course and then apply for a Doctorate.

Here He is, intervening on my behalf.  In all seriousness, I do
believe that getting into teaching was His plan and not mine.
Whether or not that is still true I don't know.  I haven't
phoned much lately.
I didn't fail.  My first placement was really encouraging.  I couldn't control the classes, which worried me as it was a fee-paying school, but I could create the odd interesting lesson.  I teach History.  It is the easiest teaching job going because I don't have to waste time trying to get students enthused.  History just is interesting.  All I have to do is show the History to the students and bingo, they're hooked.  I created what I refer to as 'The Nazi Lesson' by accident in that first placement, and thus recieved many plaudits.  My second placement was much stormier, they didn't like me and I was a bit shit in general.  But I applied for and got a job.
Four years later I applied for and got a job as a Head of Department because the school I was going to had a near invisible History Department with no real presence.  In the space of the first term, by Christmas, I had built the Department up enough that all students knew who we were, who I was, and our options were over doubled.  By the end of the first year I had quadrupled the Sixth Form entry for History, doubled it for Politics and results in A Level were up generally.  In the second year results began to pick up in GCSE, slowly, and the A Level were up again.  By that point I had wrestled control of whole school events for History and the Department was so well known among students that staff were coming to us to ask how we'd done it.  My stolen discipline system for the Department was working so well that we had voluntary buy-in from Geography and RE and even the senior leadership were intrigued despite themselves.  I had gained the respect of the Heads of Year, who also supported our systems and noted that many students felt 'cared for' by History where they did not in other Departments.  But the behaviour generally got me down.  I was miserable.

Also, I'd had to force a member of staff out, which left me feeling like a heel.  Don't get me wrong, it had to be done and she ended up in a higher paid job that was less stressful for her, but it was still a horrible thing to have to do.  I found that hard to live with and was aware that other staff viewed me with fear because of it.  I do not do well being feared, I don't want people's fear.

So, in the scond year, I applied for 56 jobs, got interviews for 27 and attended 18.  At the end of that I got a job in the school I got my first job in again, as a Second in Department.  The rest is elsewhere on this blog.

What's my point?  I didn't get where I am today.  I didn't do any of that.

Last night I attended a Battle of the Bands because one of my first form students was there.  He left school two years ago, left the place I worked before that... When I started teaching he was a member of my form group.  They were my form until I left four years later.  He left after one more year to go to Sixth Form College because, and I paraphrase him, I was not there to teach him History.  When I went back half way through his Sixth Form studies this student came to me to coach him through the History course he was doing elsewhere.  He came out to me first among adults that were not his family as gay, asked advice about his year-out, shared his frustrations with modern society and then asked me to attend this Battle of the Bands thing (okay, this is over three years).  So, yeah, I attended.

Two staff talked to me there.  They told me that I was well-liked by the student body.  They said I should go out with staff more often and that I was more liked and respected than they thought I realised.  They intimated my Head of Department, my boss, was not a nice person and that the reason I was being picked on was due to her ineptitude and fear of my standing with the students.  The teacher who'd organised the Battle of the Bands spoke to me that night too.  I enjoyed the music, the students were excellent and I got involved in the dancing (I do that, I can't actually dance, but give me a song I enjoy played loud enough and I'll jerk spasmodically with the rhythm).  Obviously I played up my poor dancing for laughs, there were students there - how could I take myself seriously?  This prompted this other teacher to comment "Sir, thank you for coming, everything the kids say about you, all I've heard, it's all true!"

This was echoed further in an e-mail today where this teacher, presumeably more sober than last night, re-iterated his thanks for my attendance and his admiration for my standing with the students.

But I didn't do this.  I didn't get where I am today.

Me as a teacher.  Except that I'm not
that pretty.  Or allowed to wear
I am a mirror, as a teacher, I simply reflect back to students their enthusiasm and hard work.  If students aren't interested then I'm not either.  If they're not hooked, I'm not either.  If they don't work then I sure as Hell don't.  In me students only see themselves, their good points.  I'm not beating myself up about this, I don't even know why I feel I need to record it, but I do.

Earlier that day I attended the recording of a political radio show for a national station.  I wasn't involved in the organisation of this but some of my colleagues were.  When I arrived the students corralled by those who were organising it looked to me for leadership, for praise for what they were doing and for advice if things weren't working.  Even the staff treated me like I was there as part of the organisation.  And I had an urge to take on that role, to help with the organisation.  It's what I do.

Before that the Police, Fire Service and Ambulance Service had run a day on road safety.  They had approached us to run it, free of charge, and they had organised every session.  All I did was provide rooming and student lists.  And run around on the day making sure everything was running smoothly, press some flesh and chase up other colleagues who hadn't done what they said they'd do.  I love that kind of work.  Really, I do, the thrill of sorting out problems, of smoothing potential conflicts, networking and making everyone feel valued and listened to - like their problems have had an airing, even if they haven't been solved.  The whole day was spent doing that, at a high level, and it was awesome.  This on the back of the job interview the day before.

And I didn't do that.  Everyone else organised it.  I didn't get where I am today.

In the job interview I was sanguine.  The lesson went well, the students enjoyed it and three spontaneously said that I should get the job when the purpose of my lesson was revealed to them by the observing teacher.  There was a student interview panel of six that, I was told, were split between those who would countenance no one else for the job and those who wanted anyone but me - the teacher that told me told me this as a negative as I had sort of ruined their process of selection.  In my actual interview I gave "left field" answers that were "interesting" but failed to tick boxes.  I was encouraged to think more about how I would tick those boxes in future interviews.

Il Duce.  Topless in snow.  Fascist ideal.
As an example, I was asked at one point to describe how I would lead a Department (this was the example used in my feedback too) and I responded that I would be a blend of Mussolini and Gandhi.  Mussolini was seen to lead by example, he was there doing the spade work, working all hours, the ultimate example of the Fascist ideal and a dictator - decisive and swift in public.  Gandhi, well, when a woman asked him to tell her son not to eat sugar because her son respected him more than his mother Gandhi told her to come back two weeks later.  She did.  He took the son to one side and said "Son, don't eat sugar" and then walked away.  The mother chased after him and asked, rather angrily I imagine, why she'd had to wait two weeks for that.  Gandhi said: "dear woman, two weeks ago I myself ate sugar."  In other words he could not ask anyone to do something he was not doing.  Both of them were charismatic leaders.  Left field.  But honest.  Well, okay, I don't think of myself as that good, but my point is clear.

I didn't get the job, I ticked few boxes, but I took the "left field" as a compliment.  It wasn't meant as one.  However, again, I didn't do that.  I didn't get where I am today.

I have, however, written a mammoth post.  The Fascist ideal: image over substance.

On Thursday I saw my CBT professional.  My NHS funded sessions are coming to an end and I don't feel that I've actually done anything in them.  Oh, I've written some SMART targets, two compassionate letters and some guff about work.  I've been 'Mindful' for about twelve days, created a safe place and carried out a survey.  I've done chair work, I've read stuff on Compassion and rambled for hours about my parents and my family.  I've ranted about the situation at work and my worries that I'll lose my job or that I'll be 'found out'.  That is, people will one day see that I have done nothing and that I haven't got where I am today.  But I am no closer now to being 'fixed' than I was before I started therapy.  I shared this.  She was professional about it but I don't feel helped.  I'm not sure what therapy is supposed to actually do.  People look forward to their sessions, Tilly did, and people come away feeling better about who they are, they come away more fixed than broken.  I haven't and don't believe that I will either.

Today I shouted at my daughter.  But I lost it.  I forced her to pick up some paper and, in so doing, hurt her arms and accidentally scratched her side.  The worst bit about this is that I actually feel no remorse.  Part of me feels that the rudeness and the deliberate winding up of me and her brother was deserving of the response I gave.  Logically I know this to be completely unreasonable, she's three and I'm the adult.  Logically I know that my physical response means that I already lost the battle and that hurting her into the bargain goes beyond the pale.  Logically, I am in the wrong.  Emotionally I still feel justified.  I am still angry.  At me, at her and at Tilly who needed the lie in.  I am still very broken.

Something like this.  I wouldn't pass
though.  Again, I'm not this pretty.
In all of this I'm fixating on the boots.  Trying to work out how I could wear them and my dress and go for a walk in the woods.  Which route would mean that I won't be seen by dog walkers?  Where are the dry paths that could take the heels?  Would I need tights?  What about beneath the dress?  How long could I get?  How late would I have to go?  Do I put the dress on beneath my normal clothes or do I risk changing outside somewhere?  What about if I am seen?  Should I travel further afield?  Should I drive dressed to do that or should I change in the car?  I'm not worried about passing: my legs are very hairy and I have a straggly beard; the only wig I own was last used in 2005, still smells of the club I wore it to and is barely functional and I'm a bit tall for a woman.  Instead, I wish to remain anonymous, this would be for me and not for public consumption.  Like if I were dancing for real rather than for laughs - no one gets to see me do that: it's me and mine and private.

My grandmother is close to death.  I don't actually care one way or another.  My mother is distraught, of course, it's her Mum.  I deal with that by listening and then forgetting, I walk away when she's done on the phone.  Not my problem.  My grandmother has been a horrible woman most of my life and, truth be told, I don't feel anything for her.  I don't hate her or anything but the news of her condition registers about the same level as hearing about people dying in Syria.  No, a little lower than that I suppose.  My wife needs my support: she's not getting enough sleep but she has to choose between what happened this morning and sleep and she's finding that hard.  I can't support Tilly.  Or I won't.  Either way...  I'm broken.

I got where I am today on this level.

Enough, no one is still reading by this point.  That song:


  1. Nope, made it to the end. But I need to think more before commenting. Interesting...

  2. And I'm caving here, because I'd really like to know what you think.



All comments are welcome, I have a thicker skin virtually than I do in real life!