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
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.
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.|
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.
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: