When you are giving a class you do not feel you have prepared enough, your head hurts and your class has a "Friday-it's-weekend" feeling, how convenient it is that the Ball committee need 15 minutes of your lesson to talk to your class...
During art classes we usually have the time for a chat while the pupils are working. This week pupils in two different classes asked me if I had any children. In both classes they were quite disappointed. However, in one of the classes I got a reason for the the disappointment.
- Now I will never mange to get a good mark in Art. All teachers like me if I make them tell me about their children. They seem to be quite taken by flattery about their children.
I must add that this was the same pupil who gave me a Christmas card with the greeting "From your favourite pupil"!
Tomorrow morning I am giving a 45 minutes lesson on Eastern Europe after the Second World War to my class of 15 year olds. I feel 45 minutes - that is approximately 30 minutes when taking in the need to calm down the class - is hardly anything on such a large topic. The text book has decided to emphasis ethnic conflicts, so i might go for that. I am talking without a manuscript as I probably would have too much to say anyway and it is better that I just remember the essentials.
I find it a bit strange to talk to people that do not remember there was such a thing as Easter Europe. They are born in 1990, so Gorbachev and the Berlin Wall are just "things in history". The text book is from 1999 and has not yet managed to get a distance to the dissolvement of Yugoslavia. All of this is so strange as I remember it so well.
Last night, after having finished making a pair of curtains for my brother, I was drawn between two of my New Year resolutions; should I write a blog post, or should I go to bed and get enough sleep. I decided on sleep, as I new writing a post probably would extend into me lingering online.
Yesterday was the opening of school after the Christmas holiday. My start was teaching wood works at quarter past eight in the morning. It was rather tough both getting up early and teaching something I have not really been told how to... However, I believe this term might continue better.
During the holiday I realised I needed to get a more stable working situation and thus needed to clear things out with the school. Yesterday I managed to put forward my questions, though I have not had an answer yet. First, I want to know how long I am needed for; secondly, if I am to teach wood works I need a course and, thirdly, if possible I would want Wednesdays off to do research. The first two questions has to do with uncertainty, if I cannot managed to get an answer to when and what to teach I need to get another job at once, because the uncertainty drives me mad. And this autumn my research has suffered terrible by my work load. So far I do not teach any regular lessons on Wednesdays and it should be quite possible to have that day off.
I have today off not because I have got my will, but because there was not acute need for me today. The research day has so far been spent having a long breakfast, but now I am off to the University Library and I really look forward to it.
I am going to Vigeland-museet on Tuesday and I have just prepared an information sheet for my student. Their homepage is quite nice. I went there Thursday last week too and we had a good time. The pupils are attending a drawing course and I can enjoy the sculptures of Gustav Vigeland.
Vigeland has not been a particular interest of mine earlier, but now I have had the opportunity to see more of the variety of his work and I am enjoying it. Especially his earlier works which were unknown to me.
When teachers are discussing annoying pupils, they always talk about the loud or rude pupils. I agree that loud pupils ruin any attempt of teaching and are thus an annoyance. However, the pupils who irritates me the most are the smirking pupils. They might be quiet and well behaved, but they are extremely attention seeking and also take the attention away from other things. And I cannot see why they try to flatter me, as I am usually in no position to influence their marks or put in a good word for them.
One girl in particular often grabs me while I am on my way from one class room to another to tell me that I am a good teacher and that she hopes I will have a lesson with her class soon. I am not very good at situations like that and just keep calm and give her a smile. Today, she grabbed me and asked me if I could ask the administration to give me the position of history teacher for her class, as everyone in her class had enjoyed my lesson on social changes after 1945. "But isn't your history teacher back?" I asked. "But I liked you better", she answered. I would perhaps have felt flattered if she had stopped after telling me she enjoyed my lesson, but I feel she went over the top.
Nevertheless, I was very pleased with that lesson and I really hope it was true that several pupils in the class enjoyed it.
Being a substitute teacher has taken all my spare energy, so it has been little academic reading and no blog writing for the last weeks. Today, however, I feel I have something to tell.
So far I have taught any subject, but history. I have done Maths, English, Norwegian, French (!), Literature, Science, Religion, PE, Art and Woodwork and gone on school trips. I am enjoying being a teacher, but I continue to feel that this is not what I want to do for the rest of my working life. I have always loved giving papers and leading seminars, so I do not think it is teaching itself gives me an unsatisfactory feeling. I have so far decided it has to be the somewhat "active" (this is an euphemism...) 15 year olds that tires me out.
Today, I had the pleasure of teaching history. I was told of this lesson yesterday, so I was able to prepare a little. The topic was social changes in the US and Western Europe after 1945. This would not me my immediate first choice of lecturing topic, but I believe I did well after all. I had one and a half hours and I gave a lecture for the first half of the lesson and helped them with exercises in the last half. That group of students have never been as quiet when I have been with them. They followed my reasoning, wrote down notes and were active asking questions and answering mine. I really had a good time.
When I came up to the staff room after wards, a teacher asked me: "Did you enjoy teaching your own subject?" And my smiling face must have been a good answer.
Even though I try to show confidence in class, my insecurity when teaching unfamiliar subject must show. Today I felt confident and I know I did a good job, and I see that it might be possible to work as a history teacher. Though, I still would prefer to teach older students. It is a joy to see students enjoy your own subject.
One nice episode in today's lesson was a boy, who I have considered a weak (and naughty) student having had lessons with him in Maths, Science and Norwegian, really enjoying doing his exercises. On a question asking what happened to women's situation in the 1950s and 1960s, he wondered if the simplification of housework, like the washing machine, had changed the work and images of housewives and thus made them ready for work outside of the home. It thought this reasoning was wonderful. The textbook had stated that industrial work was made simpler due to robots and new machines and in a later chapters that women started questioning their identity as housewives in the 1960s. There was no mentioning of washing machines and no explanation of why housewives started questioning their identity (though this was discussed in my lecture). Good boy!
Tomorrow brings a day of Art; two classes in art history and drawing techniques and one class in "Make your own paper doll representing a 20-25 year old to be used in a play in next week's ANT (Alcohol, Drugs/Narcotics and Tobacco) - project". The last definitively not my idea.
I remember reading in the newspaper in the spring that the school I am working at has the least number of computers per class in Oslo. I have never had the opportunity to try any of the ones we have untill today (We have airless network, so I have been able to use my iBook). I am unable to date the computers, but they look similar to the ones I used at school and they have the same software: Windows 98.
Today I have looked after a class having work experience. Not all of them have got a position yet, so they are allowed to do other things. Today that meant one and a half hour surfing the net. I find it quite ironic that this might be how they are going to spend their working life any way. Hopefully without windows 98 and slow computers though.
After little success in acquiring a relevant job in history I am back at the school teaching. So for the next weeks I am substituting a teacher in Maths, Science and Physical Education. Definitely not much relevant to my background, but I need bread-and-butter money like everyone else and teaching is quite fun.
I am quite fascinated by how focused fifteen year olds are on identity. Of course we all "read" other people in the way they dress and behave - and I suppose in the intellectual world which books read and theorist used. Fifteen year olds are occupied with the individuality/normality identity crisis, and brands seem to be the important thing. I try to dress neatly and proper as a teacher, but I had not really taken into consideration how much interest my pupils have in my appearance. In the middle of a period of concentrated work someone can suddenly decide to discuss an outfit I had a few days ago. And I repeatedly get questions about my favourite shops and brands. This are things I do not think too much about, so it is a bit difficult to answer. Perhaps I answer "wrong" are put in the category of "strange". I do not want that to happen.
Perhaps I should not be surprised about pupils interest in their teacher. I have always loved discussing the dress-sense of my teachers and lecturers. Especially those with fashion faux pas's