How my training prepared me for the challenges of teaching.
Some snippets to give you a flavour:
- Phone call requesting school placement to Dock Road Boys Secondary Modern (Remember those? For those who don’t, they were a kind of transit camp for 11+ failures to keep them off the streets till they could go out to work ) “Can you take a couple of lads for Woodwork and Tech Drawing?” “Aye we can always do with a bit of extra help. Send us a couple of big ones.”
- PE advice from my placement teacher in very old RC Juniors: “You can’t do ball games in the hall because of the heaters” “The heaters?” “They’re gas – those ceramic things on the walls above the wallbars – like old gas fires. And then there’s the Catholic Pensioners’ Dinner Club” “?????” “They use the end of the hall for their hot lunches. They usually come in early for a chat and to see the kids.”
- Wise counsel from my second placement teacher when I couldn’t find some pupils on a school trip I had organised to an Open Air Museum. “I’ve lost two! They haven’t turned up at the meeting point!” “No dear, one might be lost, but two are getting up to mischief somewhere. Look in the places they aren’t meant to be” (FYI – they were in an out-of-bounds historic railway carriage having a fag)
- Personal tuition – Because we had a variety of qualifications (or lack of qualifications) we had to do basic courses in English and Maths. I had been educated in a system where you could give up Maths at 13 and go for Lower Leaving Cerificate Arithmetic instead. The redundant engineers and draughtsmen helped me out with extra Maths tuition in the student common room. They had to be very patient. “Negative numbers! You’re having me on! How can you have negative numbers? One apple + one apple equals two apples! How can you have minus one apples?”