Many people think teachers have got it easy, what with their short hours, super-long holidays and training/inset days pretty much every other week.
On occasion I too may have been guilty of thinking that teaching was a soft option. After all, children are surely not as demanding or as hard work as, say, running a company or trying to get your work team to follow objectives.
But now, after spending some of my free time in local schools, I’d happily eat my words.
On Monday morning I gave my first-ever assembly. In my head I was well-prepared. After all, I had rehearsed what I was going to say in front of the mirror and it all made perfect sense.
What I hadn’t factored in was that, with 200 or so children in attendance, I might have to employ a bit of crowd control. And that, while I thought adding a few pantomime elements would be an interesting way of engaging the crowd, to them it was a signal that I had no idea what I was doing.
The teachers’ faces when I said to the audience: ‘I can’t hear you’ should have been a clue that this was not the best tactic to employ unless you’re either skilled at reigning it back in, or wearing a cross-dressing ensemble and throwing sweets into the audience with abandon before breaking into a stupendous leg-kicking cabaret to a cunning mix of the latest top tunes.
Sadly my black-and-white Powerpoint didn’t tick any of those boxes.
I quickly realised the issue with my presentation. The problem with rhetoric, especially once you’ve started the pantomime cheers, is that kids don’t understand that they’re not supposed to answer.
There is something ever so scary about a sea of faces who are looking at you with a mixture of scepticism and hope – and you know that you’re the one responsible for tipping the scales.
To have to do that on a daily basis, while making sense, not swearing, and speaking clearly must be simply draining. And then you’re supposed to check they’ve actually learned something.
As much as it pains me to admit it, I have to say that teachers are pretty amazing.