You see, life is pretty simple. I have been harping on about that in my musings for quite some time now. Life doesn't have to be complicated. It's the individual, society expectations, that fake life manual I spoke about in the last post that holds us back. I have started reading a great book (kinda cliche because I know everyone is reading it) but it makes a whole lot of sense to me. 'The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***' by Mark Manson is a fantastic overturn of what society keeps banging on about today. This whole concept of being perfect all the time when we are bombarded 24/7 with perfection thanks to social media. But the main thing I really like about the book (and I'm only a couple of chapters in), is that it is brutally honest. It's not a book about becoming a bum, not caring about anything and basically giving up on life. No. It's a solid look at why we as humans don't need to give a f*** about everything but instead we need to choose specifically what we want to give a f*** about. This is the key. Choose specifically what you want to give a f*** about. For me, it has become abundantly clear that I no longer wish to give a f*** about teaching. Not because I am a horrible teacher or that I hate teaching but I don't want to give a f*** about the backstabbing teachers, endless paperwork and constant behaviour demands of the majority of students in a mainstream class.
I don't want to give a f*** so much so that I made the decision to go back to casual work because my mental health was suffering. So let's get onto the point of this post. My musings for today after another frustrating day of casual work where I promise myself I no longer give a f*** but deep down really, kinda do. Because I am a teacher who respects the profession and puts her heart into everything she does.
Case in point. The lesson had started and not even 15mins in, a student walks in after returning from the principal's office. Rather than get to know my name, show me respect or sit down and start the lesson, the student decided to become completely disruptive and interrupt the whole class flow. Anything I said was met with back chat and disrespect, continuously. On it went and I could feel my blood boiling (not that anyone would know that on the outside because I am a teacher and have to perform like a circus elephant every day- musings for another time!). I am not a yeller. I don't yell and scream as a teacher. I make a point of this and am very proud of how I go about my teaching. I called to have this student removed because 1) my patience was waning and 2) she wasn't learning anything anyway. This was to the detriment of everyone else's learning (again, I know I've harped on about this before BUT SERIOUSLY! THIS STUDENT IS NO MORE IMPORTANT OR SPECIAL THAN ANYONE ELSE IN THE CLASS. I'M TIRED OF THEM DEMANDING ALL MY ATTENTION. I'M TIRED OF THOSE LOVELY STUDENTS ALWAYS MISSING OUT. Phew, sorry! needed to get that off my chest again. I hate the unfairness of it all.
This student returned to class later on. They were much better than earlier on in the morning until the afternoon session hit and she decided to demand my attention once again. Same story, bla bla bla. It's like coaxing a cat to come out of hiding when that's the last thing they want to do. I tried every trick in my bag but nothing was working.
Here's where we come to my musings for today. I bumped into an assistant principal at the end of the day where he proceeded to ask how my day was, specifically asking about this student. No surprises for him that I had a hard time with her. Completely normal and expected. But this next part. The part I really hate. The part that is almost single-handedly bringing down the education system. He said:
'Oh but she has a sad home life, she's in care and going through a lot of things. It's not her fault'
BOOM! Right there. RIGHT THERE! This is what is wrong with our education system today. This might make me sound like a b**** (excuse the language but since I am not giving a f*** anymore may as well do it right), but why are we giving these students a ready made excuse for their behaviour on a platter? A platter filled with yummy treats and sauce on the side. A platter that is so enticing, so tempting, the student can't help but use this excuse everywhere she goes until it is ingrained and becomes a habit.
I have no doubt this student comes from a bad home life. She is like so many others I have taught. My problem is in the fact that if we continue to give this child an excuse for why she behaves so disrespectfully, that's an excuse she will hold onto and repeatedly use for the rest of her life. She will be saying this to herself over and over again, believing that it is because she is in care, it is because she has a hard home life, it is because she's seen a lot of things she shouldn't, that she behaves the way she does. She will continue to say this straight to the Centrelink line, she will continue to say this when she gets fired from another job, she will continue to say this when she is up for theft charges and holed up in the police station.
I know this sounds dramatic and incredibly unkind. But I have been in this game long enough. I have seen a lot and heard a lot around a staff room table. I am not trying to be negative but this girl needs something else. Something else that I can't give her because I am a trained teacher, not a trained psychologist.
I do know one thing though. Enabling these behaviours and accepting them is not doing these kids any favours. EMPOWER THEM! We should be helping them to understand how to use their shortcomings as fire in their belly. As motivation to jump over that next hurdle. As a steamroller through life. Not so they end up in that police station or Centrelink line but so they end up as driven, motivated individuals who will contribute positively to our society and the world as a whole. It is not right to hand student's excuses on a platter. That is wayyyyy too easy. As teachers, our work does not revolve around making lives easier. It should be about challenging students to the point they no longer need our input because their brain is capable all on its own. The problem is that in a mainstream classroom, this just isn't possible with so many of these students floating around.
I don't know the answer but one thing is for sure. When these students are starting to become the majority of the class, where does teaching come in? Will teaching just become behaviour management before anyone does anything about it? Why do we think that saying 'poor you' is the answer to the problem? We consistently focus on data and standardised test scores as a means of measuring the success of our education system but I guarantee that stamping out this 'poor me' mentality will do more in increasing test results than any amount of clicking boxes or assessing will achieve.