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A day at work
Well, I finally wrote some stuff and with any luck I can write more tomorrow and so the people who still bother to check this site (for some reason the number seems to be steady at 30 a day) finally get some new content. For those interested, here's a day in the life of a history teacher
The morning usually starts well and it certainly did this Monday morning. I was feely generous and had allowed a student to do a test he had missed last week during the first hour. Yes, I’m a bowl of generosity all right. I can almost feel the love he was emanating for me when he heard I wanted him to do that test on his usually free first hour. No sleep-in for you my nearly blind ‘ I have to wear sunglasses or else my retinas will burn off from overexposure to light’ friend.
He didn’t show, which normally sends me into a bloody rage of broke glass and blood but instead of indulging in such fun I just let it slide and had some more tea all the while envisioning his blind ass having hit a light post on the way to school or something cool like that. Thank God, classes started after 30 minutes of dreary boringness and I was faced with a new group of students. In its wisdom the school only allows the 2nd class of the Gymnasium half a year of History classes and fill the other half with useless geography or some ludicrous tripe. Half a year to get 3 revolutions in their minds and convince them all to stop playing World of warcraft. A tall order to be sure. Luckily, almost all of them had forgotten their books and none of them seemed to have any idea about what they had done during History the previous year. Frankly, I’m so used to these responses I’d be surprised if any of them actually realized there was a precious year to begin with. After convincing them I was the most awesome person on the planet and writing on the big board everything they should have learned in the last year it was time to move on.
The 4th class was on my ass. Due to horrific incompetence on my part I had accidentally put some questions I had used before on tests in the big 5 chapter test which was bloody important for them. Most were fine with this but some felt it was an ‘ unfair advantage’ since they didn’t get those tests. Bear in mind that are the same people who couldn’t tell me what period of history came before well, history. (its prehistory) This will be important later. For now, I was celebrated by my own 4th class who hailed me as a hero for giving them advantaged over others. I reminded them they completely screwed up even the questions they had seen before and went out of my way to nearly call them idiots. They seemed to get the message when I banged my head on my desk. Then, I told them all about how the Spanish were idiots for losing to the Netherlands in 1588. A lot of my classes revolve around historic people being idiots. Columbus, Philips II, Louis XVI, Charles Cornwallis, Hitler, Stalin, Bush. The list goes on. History is drenched in idiocy. I may have to do a separate article on that..
At any rate, after the 4th comes the hour of mental torture for any teacher. 3rd. The 3rd have had two years of education already and so they know the drill. They also have ahead of them another 2 years of education which makes the 3rd year the most useless of them all. No exams yet, no hard choices or thinking about their future. Nothing. Just learning. And that pisses them off. After spending nearly 15 minutes of attempting to teach them about the goddamn Berlin wall I gave up, told them they could do whatever they want and I’d do the hour again when it suited them less. Amazingly, that got their attention and I was able to at least get them to write stuff down. Yes, I’m an educational genius. Threaten people and they’ll do things. Most of the time. After that epiphany it was time to run like hell because my next class was in another building and the rigid time schedule didn’t leave me to do anything but run for dear life.
There’s a fundamental difference between the Dutch HAVO and VMBO. The HAVO are the smart bastards who will grown up to be like us. They occasionally read things and pretend to be smart. Like us. The VMBO kids are the not quite so smart bastards, destined to be craftsmen and workers and gas station attendants. They’re necessary but I’d prefer it if they’d stay out of my life as a teacher. Unfortunately, since I don’t get enough hours at the HAVO I’m stuck there. Stuck like a wingless bird on a traffic intersection. When I arrived at my class in the other building the place was already a barely recognizable cacophony of screaming, twisted furniture and contorted faces and it took a full 15 minutes to create something resembling order. I was thanked for my efforts with a Hitler sign by one kid who’s so thoroughly autistic that he barely managed to acknowledge how angry I was at him for that. Never mind, I had a class to get through to. Luckily even the thickest of VMBO students (and boy, they’re thick) understands that a teacher shouting at you for 10 minutes might be a bad sign and they opted to shut up for at least the time it took me to explain their assignments for the remainder of the hour (which had shrunk down to a good 25 minutes Hu- fucking-rah). To my amazement they managed to get some decent work done and I could safely move on.
It probably helped that the subject was WW2 and every students everywhere thinks Hitler and Churchill are funny.
The greatest joy on Monday has to be the fact that I can go on teaching till 4 o’clock instead of the usual 3 o’clock. This may not sound like a long time to anyone who doesn’t work in education but trust me, 7 hours and 7 classes is more then sufficient to go batshit insane if you’re not careful or like me, sarcastic. On this glorious Monday, I had 8 hours or as we call it in teaching terms: the full enchilada. The big One. The burn out special. 3 teachers this year alone have already lost their minds to the Big One and I’m hoping not to follow in their steps.
Luckily, I had a plan. Simply pile so much work on them they were to busy to complain, sit back and hope there won’t be any repercussions. Praise be to whatever deity is up there because it seemed to work. They all went quietly to their assigned tasks and holy freaking hell, one of them asked an intelligent question instead of the usual ‘can I go to the toilet?’ or ‘can we go home early?’ nonsense.
And then, at 4 o’clock exactly my rollercoaster Monday came to a complete and unexpected halt. The sudden silence that engulfs me when I stand in an empty classroom is quite astonishing… as was my still being alive and for the most part, sane.
So, almost time for the weekend then.