Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Am I still 'fit to be a Teacher'?

This term has been a wopping eleven weeks long. This is a tongue-in-cheek look at my state of mind as a teacher by the end of the term!

In the April edition of NZEI Rourou, a small insert asks the following question: Are you of "Good Character" and "Fit to be a Teacher"?

It continues:

The Teachers Council defines "good character and is fit to be a teacher" as someone who

a) 'has a police vet satisfactory to the Council';

Yeah, this I can attest to, after months of waiting. I applied for my Police vet in November for immigration purposes. (I had to have it done through the South African department of internal affairs, although I hadn't set foot in the country since moving here in 2005.) After months of telephone calls, payments to various individuals (I won't go into details) and desperate emails to family members living in Pretoria, I now have the police vet. Actually, I don't have it. I sent it straight off to NZ Immigration. I've just thought of something: I hope the Council finds it satisfactory, once I get it back!

b) 'displays respect for persons, for cultural and social values of Aotearoa New Zealand, for the law and for the views of others.'

Well, I have a bit of a confession to make here. While I do respect said persons, cultures and values of Aotearoa and also the law... the views of some others are not always to my taste! And by the 11th week of the term, I find myself, well, a trifle outspoken. I don't think I actually always display the respect I feel. As a matter of fact, what I might be displaying is considerable disdain at some people's views. (I'm thinking: That's ridiculous! I don't agree. What a nincompoop! Oh, no, don't ask me to do that stupid admin again. It's too much work / too hard / too boring. I don't wanna!) I'm not normally a negative kind of person, but I seem to have undergone a personality change of late. Hope no-one gossips about me to the council! I probably just need some rest!

c) 'upholds the public and professional reputation of teachers;

I haven't been dancing on the tables recently, so I reckon I could say 'Yes' to this one. Fat chance of putting the reputation of anyone
at stake, including myself, with the work load we teachers have! Life has pretty much been school, school, school for the past 11 weeks. Note to self: Go somewhere, over the rainbow, where no-one knows you're a teacher, and have a wild party during the holidays. Stay up until at least midnight. Be wild. Throw all caution to the winds, and go to bed without flossing.

d) 'promotes and nurtures the safety of learners within his or her care;'

Yes, they've got the 'his or her' part right. I don't know whether I'm Arthur or Martha by week 11. Regarding the 'safety of learners' I've told my learners all about Cybersafety, Road Safety, Water Safety, not talking to strangers (except while blogging) and saying 'No' when it's appropriate. I've encouraged them to wear their hats all summer (repeatedly) and their shoes on rainy days. I've asked, cajoled and commanded them to 'walk, not run'. I have reminded them over and over and over again to wash, blow and wipe the appropriate body parts. How do you 'nurture the safety of learners'? I've nurtured the learners themselves, though. I've even been pretty patient. Well, mostly.

e) 'is reliable and trustworthy in carrying out duties;'

Oh Dear! Does that include Road Patrol? Shh, don't tell anybody, but I forgot to go out the other day to check on the duty parent. No-one noticed. Does that make me unreliable? I can say uncategorily that I am trustworthy, though. You can trust me to put my foot in my mouth at least once a day. You can trust me to forget to check that my window monitor has closed the windows. You can trust me to steal a few moments of quiet before I go out to field duty. You can even trust me to wait until after school before I read my RSS feeds. Except today. I have to confess, I sneaked a peak today.

f) 'is mentally and physically fit to carry out the teaching role safely and satisfactorily.'

I dunno...! Kids drive you crazy on rainy days. And windy days. And hot days, too.

Physically I'm not doing too badly. I do count kilojoules and at least once a fortnight I remember to wear my pedometer. (So far my upper limit has been 7500 steps per day.) Not completely sedentary. I have the occasional wack at a golf ball at the driving range. I even beat my teenage kids at mini-golf the other day. Much to their chagrin!

Mentally? Is it OK to keep on babbling away, while you have a group of kids looking at you in awe and wonderment? No, it's not the riveting lesson I'm teaching that's creating the awe. It's the fact that I've absent-mindedly reverted to my home language - which they don't understand. Am I still mentally OK, if all I want, after a term of hard work, is to crawl under the covers with a soppy, mind-numbing, zero-literary-value-at-all love story? (I've been reading kid's books day after day, week after week. I have to progress to adult fiction slowly, step-by-step.) Can the snappy, grumpy, growly, quick-to-criticize, slow-to-smile, cannot-be-pleased-even-by-a- chocolate-peace-offering person I have become (after a hectic first term) still qualify as 'fit to be a teacher'?

I realise that I do have some introspection to do about my character and desirability as a teacher. But first I'm going home, pouring a big glass of red wine, and relaxing with my feet up! I'll worry about the laundry/ planning / groceries / kid's squabbles / term goals / classroom displays next week. When I'm on holiday!


  1. This tongue-in-cheek look at a teachers life was just the right tonic I needed at the end of my teaching day. The tears of merriment just rolled down my face. I mean, if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

    As an educator, you can get wrapped up in the serious issues that seem all important in your little world and forget that thing called humour.

    There is a saying by Mario Andretti who says: 'If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough.'

    But I like this little story a colleague of mine told me last year.

    A crow was sitting on a tree doing nothing all day. A small rabbit saw the corw and asked him, "Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long?"
    The crow answered "Sure, why not?"
    So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.
    The moral of the story is:
    To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very, high up.

    Keep the stories coming!

  2. I can just feel your exhaustion! It reminds me of the days when I would go to the Teacher's Lounge and devour all food in sight. Donuts, left over pizza, burnt popcorn, you name it. That was my exercise. Running down the stairs, looking frantically around, and devouring junk food as I ran back up the stairs to my class.