I Know How Basil Fawlty Feels

Yesterday turned out to be one of those days that deflated my desire to remain at my current place of employment; it concerns not only a number of pupils, but the school’s policies and routines.

The day started with a half-group English lesson with the six-year olds. I’d had an appalling time the last lesson we had as a whole group, which consisted of shouting again and again at children who refused to listen/sit in a ring/generally get involved. I was determined to keep calm this time, using a smooth tone and a placid temperament to resolve any misbehaviour, to try and attain a closer rapport with them; however, this failed to work, and a continuous volley of reminders was necessary to bring the children back to the lesson (of nine pupils, I’d say one was behaving suitably).

I decided to take action, and went to the teachers’ computer room after the lesson to prepare three “first warning” letters. When I got there I found that the printer was not able to perform my request. Usually it is the photocopier that mangles important documents, requiring time to fix that we don’t have, but today it was the computers’ turn to give me the V’s, so I left frustrated and angry, with another item for my to-do list.

Since I was already thinking about letters to parents I thought I’d try my luck franking two other “first warning” letters I’d been unsuccessfully trying to post for four days. Franking requires access to the headmaster’s office, which is only open to teachers certain times of the day. This routine has been enforced to give Naged and Maria alone time to resolve other issues, but it sadly does not work. Along with the franking machine, the office is host to pencils, glue and other assorted stationery, so any teacher unlucky enough to require these essentials at the wrong time will be left wanting.

As a testament to this system’s failure, I have been on four different occasions in four days, and I have either come at a time when visiting times are over, or at a correct time, but no-one is there to help. I did manage to get in through the sub-rectors side door (with her permission) on one occasion, but when I got to my goal I saw the franking machine requires a code. Foiled again.

A splenetic Jon then goes to his 10.10 lesson with class 1. As usual no-one is there. This is because the member of staff outside at that time hasn’t rung the bell for them to return from their break. Had this have been with one of the higher classes I’d have been a bit pissed off by this, especially class 5, who have their National Test this year, but class 1 coming twenty minutes late was actually pleasing, giving me time to calm down and not have to be concerned that my planning would fall short of a full forty-minute lesson.

The rest of the morning and early afternoon went by without problems. I actually had time to sort out loads of paperwork that had accumulated on my desk, though my last lesson, with one of the class 5’s, was most unproductive, with the children showing a general tiredness and lack of concentration. It is these kind of days that have me believing there must be must less stressful ways of teaching English, and I’ve even been considering writing a C.V. for the next time I become disheartened.