Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Half Term

It's been difficult to blog recently. I seem to have been visited by at least one of the plagues of Egypt and my lymph nodes have swollen up to cope with it, the result is an unhappy, uncomfortable me!
The by-product of this is that I find it difficult to get enthusiastic about anything and though I'm physically able to blog there's nothing much I want to say.
It's half term and all over the country teachers and support staff are enjoying some well-earned rest. Many are away (we once went to Venice in half term and the place was lousy with teachers. We spent a lot of time guessing their subjects, the particularly up-tight and annoying woman in our hotel was without a doubt a Domestic Science teacher...).
As a supply teacher I get horribly stressed by the holidays and become obsessed by the fact that I'm not earning anything, not because I'm a materialistic madam but because I like to pay the bills and would like to heat the house this winter. This always seems horribly ungrateful as The Girl and other people in "normal" jobs don't have the weeks off that I do. Mind you, they probably wouldn't want a quite as much unpaid leave as I have.
There is a myth that Supply Teachers get paid loads but in fact even if I worked every day that schools are open (which I would) I'd still earn at least a third less that I would if I was a classroom teacher on a proper contract and I'm not even very high up the salary scale. I haven’t helped the situation as I've recently agreed to work at a school for £15 less a day than my actual rate because I decided it was worth it for the better quality of life this particular placement affords. I am aware that this is going to put more pressure on the old finances so I was delighted when the agency offered me one-to-one tuition at a (very) local school. The pay isn't wonderful (once the agency takes their substantial cut) but it beats sitting on the sofa watching repeats of The Gilmore Girls.

I'm teaching two Year 6 girls. W is Polish and an absolute delight. Imaginative and enthusiastic she needs help with vocabulary and with verb tenses but has wonderful English given that she’s only been in the country three years and hears no English at home. She thinks I’m amazing, which is gratifying, and keeps telling everyone how funny I am, though sometimes I’m not actually trying to be funny. T is from the Traveller Community though she lives in a house now. She is very bright but lacks confidence. She was telling me yesterday about her love of Mozart and “Beet”hoven.
The school has organised it really cleverly. There are five tutors and ten children. We meet from 8.15 to have breakfast together and work for two two-hour sessions. Whilst one of your children is with you the other is baking, or drawing or having some kind of game in the hall. Mostly what I am loving about this is the chance to talk and listen. We have so many pressures on our time during term time and so much we try to fit in the curriculum. We have so many children and not enough time to have pleasant, non-work conversations. It’s so nice to be able to sit down at the table and have breakfast or a mid-morning snack and with a group of children. To have time to laugh at their jokes, listen to what they did the evening before or talk about things that interest them. It’s what I imagined teaching would be like and what it so rarely is like.
I’m having a happy week.

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