Wonderful Wednesdays

Sometimes, I just ♥ my work. And surely that’s what it’s all about? I wish I had a little bit more, but I know that’ll happen.

On Mondays, I taught an 11 year old boy who got so carried away by the English language that he didn’t want me to stop.

Now, I was afraid of this lesson. I know I LOVE the English Language, this curious inter-married Danish-German-Dutch base language with some fine Latin-via-French thrown in to the blend. I love knowing where words come from and what other languages share our words (or gave us the words) like ‘oven’ is ‘ovn’ in Danish, and we’ve got often two or more words that mean the same thing because we kept one kicking about like some old Steptoe of languages, so we’ve got ‘old’ AND ‘ancient’ which mean kind of the same thing, but never thought to throw one out because it was redundant.

But how do you share this with an 11 year old boy whose last project was on free running??

Apparently, some people love words as much as I do even if they are 11.

And then this morning, I have the most delightful 5 year old who I’m teaching to read. She’s brill. She gets so excited and it makes me so excited. We sing songs, we say nursery rhymes, we read great stories, we look at words.

Then this afternoon is my final (sob!) paper run for the Poitou-Charentes Journal – Michael and Rachel have had twins and twins and under-fives and editing and life mean something has to give – which is a shame because I’ve doubled my route and I’m so excited about that, it’s untrue. Still, Living Poitou-Charentes will continue and I’ll still get to keep my fabulous route – not all sad. Paid to go to the prettiest towns in the area, drop off papers, chat, have coffees, see lovely people. It’s a hard life!

And after that, it’s a return to the keyboard to write some poetry analysis. T’other blog – Madame Anglaise – is getting more hits by the day – way more than this one (yes, AQA poetry is more searched than me… and I’m already on page two of Google’s returns for the poems) and I have my fingers crossed that someone, somewhere will pay attention to my words and not write things that say ‘John Agard’s poem looks like a flag’ or ‘Simon Armitage’s poem looks like a sausage’ or any other such bizarre, unfounded idiocy. And if I can outsell those shite CGP texts, so much the better.

Actually, the AQA stuff on their teacher site has been written by a genius. I don’t know who it was, but it’s mint. Loving their work. Now if only Teachit (Teach-Shit as I rebranded it, as I refused to let any of my staff download a single page of their dross) would die a death, I’ll be a bit happier. But good teaching, lovely kids, happy clients, variety, doing the work I love… joy.

Back in the world I came from, teachers are striking and I feel little sympathy. When will we understand that we have to tighten our belts? We can’t grow if we keep spending. Where is this money coming from to pay for salaries and pensions? I know, I know the banks are the biggest thieves, and if they were tackled then there’d be money, but crying for more money in the worst financial crisis most people have ever known… not exactly getting my sympathy. Teachers are saying that the job is hard. Sure, I get that. They are saying the pension needs to be good to attract good staff.

That’s where I disagree.

If you come into teaching because of the money, rather than because you cannot see another job for yourself, a job you know you’ll love, then you’ve got it all wrong. My first pay cheque was £720.00. By the time I left teaching, 15 years later, it was quadruple that. Mind you, I was in from 6:30 in the morning until at least 6:00 at night; I worked hours and hours at home and I was a national treasure. I wrote, I marked: my whole life was about teaching. And the pay packet was neither here nor there. It took me five years to earn over £1000 in take-home pay. And these were the Nineties: inflation wasn’t THAT bad over 15 years!!

But… I’d have taught for free. I pretty much do now. By the time I’ve spent an hour or more planning each lesson, then getting 15€ for it, I earn less than the hourly minimum in Europe. I’d teach for free if someone paid my bills.

That’s what teaching should be. It’s a vocation.

And if people go into it for the money, well, why on earth would they even try to teach well?


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