‘Can I please have some more, sir’ – The stressful reality of casual teaching

A month down the track and to no surprise, there is a whole bunch of things that has happened.

I handed in my (hopefully) last assignment for my Post Grad in Religious Education. It’s done! No more study for a long time. Thank goodness!

I have to say, this was one of the most stressful study periods of my educational career. I don’t know if its because I was working two jobs and had to juggle between those AND study units where information was just ‘given’ rather than ‘taught’, BUT it was hard. Nevertheless, I hope to say that I can officially add another subject to my teaching skills. I can’t help but be at least a little proud of that.

Speaking of which, why am I only just ‘a little bit’ proud of that achievement? I am adding another degree to my skill set!

No one told me that entering the shark-tank of the workforce, would test your confidence this much.

This leads me to the crux of what this entry is going to be about. Casual teaching is like the Hunger Games of the teaching world. You have a heap of teachers to fight, push aside and beat just to get your name remembered. I was never good that this kind of competition. I always believed that your talent shines through no matter what. Of course, this does happen but you are always questioning ‘Am I apart of those talented people?’

I have never doubted myself as much as I have ever since I graduated. I have never experienced this much failure, anxiety, stress and struggle. Without sounding too cocky, I have always succeeded. I may have never been exceptional but I was able to surface to the top one way or another.

Currently, the school that I liked has stopped calling me. Why? What has happened? Did I do/not do something wrong? Who beat me on the casual list? What makes them so special?

These toxic, stupid, depressing questions seem to always find its way into my thoughts – always circulating and following me. I find solace when other teachers aren’t called in whereas I’m called in. Since when am I this hateful?

Casual teaching and the casual life is toxic and sometimes suffocating. Those that are entering it should realise this and mentally prepare yourself for that reality.

Then when you DO get called in, how do you stay on the list?

Lately I’ve been called in to a local public school and I have decided to change my mind set about it. Originally, I hated the school and its whole set up. I didn’t like the teachers nor did I give them the same respect as I gave those teachers at the local Catholic school that I liked.

How wrong I was to take such a close-minded approach to it. Thinking this way made me a bad teacher. My class room management went downhill. My ability to teach and care went down hill. If I didn’t care about the school, I didn’t care about the students and thus, I became the thing I hated – A crap teacher.

If I were to go back in the past and talk to my past close-minded self, I would tell myself that I should take every school as a gift. Someone is giving you a chance to be the best teacher you can be for the day. Take it and learn! Listen and grow. Every experience at any school is worthwhile and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

After changing my thoughts, a sliver lining appeared. I spotted amazing teachers in the school. I began to build rapport with some amazing students. My classroom management is still fluctuating between good and eh but its getting better. I am getting better.

Casual life is hard. Very hard. Its been a year since I graduated and about 6 months since I started casualing. I feel like such a baby still! Time is running yet I don’t feel I’ve progressed as much as I have. But what is there to do but keep going?

Not getting enough work? Call up schools until you get a call back

Not getting called back enough? Well.. I don’t know what else to say but WHEN you get called, be the best teacher you can be. That’s all you can do.

Drowning in the negative ramifications of casual life? Find support. Be kind to yourself. You are human.

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‘All work and no play makes Vivian a dull person’ – How to balance work and study

It’s Term 2.

I’ve dumped my resume around everywhere and I’ve finally started to get the calls. People want me to work! FINALLY! I start to think I’m not as useless as I thought I was. I am actually doing what I want to do!

But wait…

I’m getting more calls. I’m getting called in everyday followed by my other after school job.

What do you mean I’ll get tired after a 10 hr day?! Of course I’d love to do that Monday-Friday and there is no way I’ll get burnt out. I’ll definitely be able to keep up AND knock out my assessments for my online Postgrad units. Too easy

So that has been my life for the past term and a half.

I’m tired, weary and drained. I need more energy! I need more motivation! But it all seems to disappear once my alarm goes off or I get my morning call. I find myself rushing around all day, coming to my other job with a dead face and a horrible attitude. I just want the day to be over so I can sleep. It’s affecting my other job. I’m starting to hate it! I don’t want to be the person that trudges into work every day, hating life. I actually really enjoy what I do but I just can’t seem to muster up the energy to care as much as I did before.

Does that mean I need to quit my after school job? 😦 I don’t think I’m prepared to do that. However, I do feel my time is ending soon.

On top of dealing with the daily grind, the stress of studying has definitely taken its toll. I decided to continue my studies to appear more employable. After receiving a huge set back in my last unit, I have lost all confidence to tackle my final assessments. I hear teachers tell me ‘I love learning! You can’t get into this profession if you don’t love learning! If I had time, I would go back to uni and do another course’

….O’rly.

My feelings are the opposite. I am very very very very over studying. I have reached a point where I have put off studying anything for about a month now. I look at the work and my brain can’t even work out where to begin! Then I get lost in a whirlwind of thought of questioning whether or not I am skilled enough to do this.

School – Stress

Work – Stress

Study – more stress!

Have you ever been so stressed that you just end up sitting there, waiting for the world to go by and consume you? That is what my life seems to feel like lately.

But of course, life can’t go that way!

The title sort of tricked you into thinking I actually had advice on how to balance things and get motivation back. Alas, I don’t.

I don’t have a neat trick or cheat way to get your life on track. The only thing I can think of is to slap myself into submission.

Chuck a Shia Labeouf and ‘JUST DO IT’

Getting motivation will hopefully follow…

Catching Up

It’s been a long while since I last updated this blog and my goodness, a lot has happened!

There is a list of things I want to blog about! Here are some pending posts…

‘Oh no. Not you’ – How to deal with crazy classes and not die

‘Can I please have some more, sir’ – The stressful reality of casual teaching

‘All work and no play makes Vivian a dull person’ – How to balance work and study

‘The one that got away’ – Job applications and just do’n it

‘You are the weakest LINK!’ – When things just go to s**t

‘Public vs Catholic’

and on the brighter side of things…

‘Good morning class’ – When things are actually good!

Although there are a lot of negative posts that are in the process of being written, I do love waking up and going to school. I often find myself looking out towards my class and thinking

“Thank you God. I am grateful I get to spend my days laughing and teaching.”

So despite all the complaining, I do love my dream job. But with every dream comes its ‘interesting’ bits.

Keep going

So it has been a while and I must confess, it reflects my current career status…

Nothing

Besides throwing myself into further study and continuing my part time job, my efforts to find casual work has been little to nil. To all the budding teachers out there that are hopeful and full of promise – hold on to it.

I have found it tough, tiresome and disappointing. However I do blame myself for this.

I think one of the largest hurtles that I’m trying to overcome is my mental and emotional confidence as a graduate teacher. After finishing 4 years of guided study and practicums, it is very daunting to step out into the working world and use EVERYTHING you’ve learned. Of course, you have to be extremely practical and at the same time display exceptional professionalism that make you stand out from the crowd of teachers.

On top of that, you are relearning/discovering a whole bunch of other skills that no course or degree can teach you. You are bound to make mistakes and you are bound to freak out. I would like to think that the school is forgiving but the pressures to deliver quality lessons and outstanding teaching skills makes me question it.

My best advice to myself and others that have found themselves in this annoying situation is:

Keep Trying

Print those resumes and cover letters, ring the schools and keep putting yourself out there. No doubt schools will spit you back out but the only way you can get in the game is to play.

Don’t let your inner demons keep you down

I for one place high expectations and pressures on myself to be as amazing as I can be. So when I knew I wanted to be teacher, I wanted to excel at it FAST. But of course, the world doesn’t work like that (at least never for me). When I don’t progress as fast as I want to, I definitely get caught up in some dark thoughts and moods that stop any form of progress. It’s very counterproductive 😦

However, that is why this blog is here! It’s a place where I can express my concerns, worries and hopefully success’.

Keep Learning

I think it’s important to be involved in your specialisations. I’ve neglected my studies in Art and English for a while and I realise how foreign the content is once I try teach them. As a result, I have another blog where I post interesting artists/artworks with a short review of analysis. My aims is to keep developing that and possibly create interesting lessons that I can use in the future. Those that do, teach! Don’t ever be a stranger of your subject.

Believe

It’s not so much that you need to believe in yourself as a teacher, but believe that you deserve a chance. Whenever you get knocked down or something doesn’t go right, keep believing that you are a capable teacher that can go the distance. My dream is to be the best teacher I can be. A person that is able to foster creative learning and excitement in students. I need to believe that I can do that and work my way to that point.

When I have very tough days that seem to drag on, I’ll remember to read this post. To those that need the extra hug or support, I hope this post can relight that fire that fueled your passions.

Let’s keep going 🙂

What If I’m Not a Good Teacher?

This question has been looming over me over the past 10 weeks… thank you for keeping my mind at peace!

the dirigible plum

question

Today, I’m tackling another question posed by one of my Methods students:

What if I am not a good teacher? What if I fail? Yes, I know, these are technically two questions, but they are related so they count as one. (My blog. My rules.) These are serious questions I have about my future as an educator. I do not want to fail my students and I do want to be a good teacher, but what if I just suck. What then?

What then? You’ll try again and get better.

Teaching is such a complex and complicated act. It is composed of philosophies, beliefs, techniques, strategies, and methods that may be shared among teachers, but even when I use the same techniques and methods as another teacher, even when we share the same pedagogical vision, my teaching does not look like hers.  I teach who I am. I teach…

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Week 9

I’m covered in ink and clay, my hands are dry and my feet are killing me

Such is life as an Art teacher.

Today was a tough day. A lot of prac and not a lot of resting but it is all in the name of the students learning.

As it draws near to the end, I hope the boys actually learnt something from me and I wasn’t a waste of space. Maybe it’s just the ‘toughness’ of the day talking, but I have never questioned my abilities to succeed so much as I have done in this practicum.

I’ve had smooth lessons but is that enough? I’ve had pretty disorganised lessons but is that forgivable?

I am dealing with the responsibility of molding young minds but I am afraid that I haven’t done enough to prove I can do it. That is the constant fear and regret that has been hovering over my head for the past 9 weeks. I shouldn’t be feeling this way should I?

I am trying so hard – is that enough?

 

7 lessons from 7 weeks

 

I broke the first rule of blogging. Not blogging. Whoops 😦

BUT I’m back. Prac has been crazy with up and stressful downs. I have never been so challenged before but this is just the beginning. I’m still shaky but I know this is the start of something rewarding. So here is a BIG catch up of some of the things I’ve learned so far….

 

Things I know already…

I know enjoy teaching and sharing knowledge. I also reaffirmed my passion for connecting with students and making that ‘difference’. With this being said, I also have realised the stress of responsibility and duty to these malleable minds. I am finding that for the first time, I am seeing the results of the my teaching shine through their work – the good and the bad. Teachers have to carry their students to success. How do you make sure each and every student is able to reach the end goal? Unfortunately, there is no ONE answer to this. It always changes and its great teachers that are able to manipulate themselves for the sake of their students.

We are here for them.

 

7 lessons I have learned so far…

1. Be consistent

Being consistent in your rules and processes! If that means you are chasing up students during homeroom to check if they have their stuff, then so be it. If that means taking time out of your recess to double check if those ‘special students’ have done their duties then you might need to postpone your coffee break. Every little thing matters, especially when teaching boys. I have learned that setting your expectations is only half the battle. Seeing them through the is rest of the war. I have spent MANY lunch times and recess in detention. Written in countless diaries and looked at hoards of devastated faces. However, this is the reality of being consistent. There is no point in setting rules and processes if you aren’t going to stick to them. THIS I have learned.

2. Break up your information

You have an assessment to explain AND you have the art making process to explain. You want to connect it to the previous activity and their prior knowledge so they can base their ideas on it. That is already 3-4 lots of information you are going to throw at these mind already. Not only that, they have already attended 4 hours of lessons. What to do….

Break that information up!

Assess their prior knowledge –> hand out the assessment sheet –> explain the assessment –> watch a video about the processes.

Boys and students in general have short attention spans. They can only realllllyyy sit still and listen for about 5mins (arguably shorter). So it is imperative that you break that information up and give them short breaks. It makes life easier, you have less classroom management because little Johnny will stop bugging his friend and finally, you will get them doing the right thing!

That is all you can really ask from them.

3. Stay positive

They told me that you will have bad days and you will have good days.

Boy oh boy, those bad days can really pull you down. Luckily I haven’t cried yet. Vivian 1 – School 0!

I find that although there are days where you just want to crawl into bed and forget the day happened, you be grateful that you survived. You take the bad and turn it into a lesson for the better. Keep reminding yourself of why you chose teaching. You didn’t choose this vocation because it was easy. It’s never easy. It’s freaking hard. But you keep coming back to school and you keep improving your teaching. That is the only thing you can do and all that the students can (subconsciously) hope for.

3. Ask questions and talk

I’ve always had this problem. I don’t like to express my issues and questions. I tend to stay quiet and watch for answers. That is wrong. Do not do that. You will drown in insecurity and will make mistakes. Talk to the experienced teachers and tell them about your issues. I need to do this more!!!! I need to fill my teacher in with everything I do and don’t do. I vow that for the rest of my prac (and career) that I wont hold my tongue if I need help. I need to ask more questions and check MORE. It is better to correct your mistakes BEFORE they happen than trying to fix it later.

4. Take part in everything

School is a haven for extra activities and groups. Even when I was in school, I took part in as many extra curricular activities as I could. They were so much fun and I was exposed to amazing opportunities. However, as a teacher it is a bit different. The teacher is the facilitator and obviously experiencing a different type of ‘enlightenment’. You stay back and help out for the benefit of them. You turn up to school an hour early to help set up the hall for the talent quest to ensure that the students can enjoy school life smoothly. Again, teachers hold that responsibility to the students and ultimately to the school. When is enough, enough? (Answer: never enough)

5. Be careful of what you say and do

The office is a jungle and you are an newly introduced species.

First rule of being a newbie: Shut up and get out of the way.

This is the first time that I’ve had a proper insight of how delicate the office can be. You need to say the right things at the right time OR not say anything at all. I thought teaching in the classroom was tough enough.. woof! I’m not saying that the office is an unsafe place and you must always stay on your guard, however there is a certain mannerism that you need to maintain. Be wary.

6. Make life easier for you

Back again to classroom processes. Art has a lot of equipment!!! Makes lessons fun but messy. I’ve been trying to fine tune clean up and its taking me surprisingly longer to find a process that works. Staggering the collection of equipment seems to the best way to do things. However at the same time, the students need to be doing SOMETHING. NEVER LEAVE THEM TO DO NOTHING. EVER. Unless you want lots of talking, throwing, walking around and other disruptive behaviour…

7. Have faith

I do believe that I can become a good teacher even though I have walked away from the classes knowing that there were areas I was weak in. Keeping faith gives you the motive to keep improving. I think that is the first step of becoming a great teacher. Knowing your weaknesses and always trying to better them. This world may have teachers but it needs great educators.

 

So these are the main things I have learned from my experiences so far. I have 4 weeks left.. not long now until I’m out in the real world… eep~!