Welcome to Janet's Blog

I first used this blog to publish "Trash" before I knew about ebooks. I wrote "Trash" twenty years ago. The novel explains why, in the original version of "If not for the tomatoes" Annie wrote: "We had aliens come and tell us". It wasn't Al Gore at all.

Annie isn't the hero of "Trash", but she has her own story ( a much more polished novel). Go to smashwords.com and look for "Tipping Point". (Follow the link to the right.)

If you're a first time visitor to my blog, try reading "If not for the tomatoes" first. (It's the short story in Annie's future - look in 6/5/07) This is only half the story, though. The complete story that inspired Tipping Point appears in my other blog as "Our choices".

To begin reading "Trash", start at 17/6/07. (Many apologies for the poor navigation.)


Saturday, 5 July 2014

Losing my class . . .

The words are sliding along in the background, persisting like the lyrics of that daggy song you just heard on the radio. "Old teachers never die, they just lose their class."

I started teaching in 1982. The world was a different place then. I remember the first computer room I worked in with students - Apple IIE set up in sequence. One button out of place and you had to reboot the whole room again. (A process that took five minutes or more, inserting floppy disks and booting each monitor individually.) Now the kids have laptops and we mark rolls electronically.

In my prime I was a damn good teacher. But the techniques I honed in the eighties and nineties no longer work. I remain a decent teacher, but can no longer hold their attention and fire their ambition to write well. Those who want to learn from me will do so, and they can learn well, but the percentage of kids who resist is higher now; there are more whose behaviour is extreme and disruptive. And I'm losing my patience.

For roughly thirty years I've been listening to variations on: "But I wasn't talking, Miss. I just asked him if I could borrow a pen." ("I'm not wet, I never went near the trough and another boy pushed me in!") Except these days, when asked to be quiet, to work, there are more and more students who are just as likely to simply say, "No!" I have no technique to counter that. And it's making me angry.

I know, I know. The older generation has been complaining about the younger generation since Adam was a lad. I deal with the younger generation professionally - I work in an atmosphere where conflict constantly threatens to break out. I am expected to endure, and somehow change, behaviour that is abusive and bullying towards myself, as well as other students. I just don't want to do it any more.

I suffer from a form of faulty thinking; and a person's attitude affects what is happening around them. Perhaps I would do better in the classroom if not for this deep-seated and dysfunctional belief that I should be teaching. But as I face the sabotage of the recidivists, I don't believe I am. Nothing classy about what's been happening in my room.

(Although I also believe there have still been kids learning in there - except they're not in my face like the world-weary rebels who have no need of my knowledge.)

Fortunately, right now, I don't have to battle my harsh judgement of my effectiveness as a teacher. It's school holidays and in ten days' time Nev and I embark on our long service leave adventure. We will travel through the centre of Australia to Kakadu, then back through the Kimberley and Pilbara. I hope we have time to spend in the SW of WA as well.

And when we return?

There are decisions I need to make about my future. Maybe I should leave the classroom before I lose my class entirely?

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