Griffith: Day 3 [the teaching begins]

Teaching in Griffith

This morning was a slightly less unreasonable wake-up for me – at 7:25 I crawled out of bed and donned my most teacherly attire. As it so happens, even when you try to dress up, the kids find something to use against you. But more on my humorous encounter later.

My lovely supervisor was quick to introduce me to everyone, and let me know who was the most friendly (the allies of the English department) as quickly as he could. Having an honest and capable communicator to guide me continues to be invaluable. It was also his birthday recently, and being the popular teacher that he is, he has received (thus far) the sum total of 14 cakes. I am in no way exaggerating the figure. I turned up to recess to a cake that another English teacher had baked, this being a chocolate vanilla swirl baked cheesecake with a milk arrowroot biscuit base, dark chocolate ganache topping and raspberries. Truly decadent, and honestly one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. I can certainly see why teachers come to Griffith on a short term basis and end up staying far longer.  I sadly did not take a photo, but I hear the recipe is somewhere in the depths of taste.com.

One of the highlights of my first day was getting to observe the top year 9 class, taught by the head of English. Incidentally, the head teacher used to live quite close to my local area, and has worked at several schools I know well. As such, he’s an excellent person to talk to about the differences between Sydney’s northern beaches and Griffith. It’s always inspiring to see someone achieving what I hope to achieve as a teacher. He was patient, effective at managing his class, and his work was engaging, thought provoking and very relevant. He didn’t shy away from broaching issues of racism, suicide, and transgender people. I hope I have the rapport and bravery to do the same in my teaching.

Probably the most amusing encounter of the day was with a year 7 boy. My prac teacher had informed me that the class was difficult; he was correct, but none of the kids were actually bad people. Painful perhaps, but not really ‘bad’. It was a great opportunity to apply my classroom management knowledge. As I was dressed in suit pants, suit shoes and a collared shirt, students were quick to note that I was dressed similarly to my supervisor. This was a rather harmless observation, until the resident class-clown-come-disturber-of-the-peace decided he wanted to ask:

“Miss, are you a boy or a girl?”

I thank my father for instilling in me a sharp wit, and an air of diplomacy. Not missing a beat, I calmly inquired:

“Well you called me ‘miss’, didn’t you?”

Unfortunately I didn’t get to hear his witty retort, as my supervisor decided the behaviour warranted some time out of the room (which is fair enough). Unperturbed, I moved to the other off-task student and assisted him, and much to my joy he became engaged and got some of the work done. He improved so much in fact that my supervisor sent a text to his parents to let them know – teaching certainly is a rewarding thing to do.

It’s late, and as per usual I’m procrastinating on work, but it will get done in time. I’ll finish this post with some photos from my lovely walk home this evening.

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