I few years ago I started teaching at a school and I was told that I was being given the naughty class, and not to expect too much from them.
But actually when I got there they weren’t what I was expecting at all. Yeah, they were a bit tired and grumpy but it was a Friday afternoon and they were being forced into an afternoon club by their parents – I got that. So we did things a little bit differently, we played loads of games and chilled out a little, tried to separate it from the classes they’d been sitting through all week. And as we got to know each other they became a bit more invested in the classes and I became more interested in planning classes and everything worked out great.
Skip forward to my leaving day. Their new teacher came along with me and in the car I kept telling her ‘nah, they’re great, just have fun with them, ignore what everyone else is saying!’.
So imagine my absolute horror when we arrived to find that the kids had locked themselves in the classroom with the key, stuck paper over the window in the door, they were blasting music, the cleaner was outside in tears trying desperately to find another key, the ‘good’ kid was hyper-actively running around in circles by the door whilst also trying to tell me the story of what had happened and the new teacher was standing outside looking utterly terrified (can’t blame her really).
Anyway, I lost it. I was banging on that door, screaming, trying to make myself heard over the music, “Oh, you are in SO much trouble, open this door RIGHT NOW so I can punish you appropriately” (in retrospect I didn’t really think that approach through so carefully).
After a few minutes the door opened, and my face is red with anger, embarrassed as hell – how could they do this to me in front of the new teacher?
And inside, the classroom is decorated with pictures and signs and the tables are filled with food. And they’ve decided to throw me a leaving party, and the cleaner’s in on the whole trick, and they’ve spent their own money on all the pop, crisps and sweets they could get their hands on. So I simultaneously felt like the worst person in the world (was I really about to go nuclear on a bunch of eleven year olds?) and the most loved person in the world (they spent their hard earned pocket money on me!)
One of my favourite things about teaching is that people can still surprise you. It’s just about being flexible as a teacher and not being afraid to try new things. Chuck in some funk every now and then, or do a blues warm up, or some gypsy inspired improv. If the definition of madness is repeating the same mistake over and over again, why do the same old exercises with students who are clearly not interested in them?
Have you go any stories of times your students have surprised you? Or tips to shake up tired routines? Let me know below!