Before I started teaching, I would say I was inspired by a few teachers at my secondary school. Obviously, my English teachers they encouraged my love of Literature especially Shakespeare – The Merchant of Venice; Macbeth, King Lear and Othello (Henry IV not so much).
I watched a range of films such as ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’, ‘My girls are the crème de la crème. Goes without saying, ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ standing on desks, ripping up the curriculum, loved by his class…..
My first job was in Walsall Wood, on the edge of the city. The children did not understand me and I certainly did not understand them, we muddled along and occasionally they learnt something. I had some lively classes (shorthand for riotous). Once the teacher next door came in and told the class they were bullying me, the humiliation I felt during the longest three minutes of my life was a turning point.
My lessons needed to be planned down to the last second, I needed to seek advice and I needed a sense of humour. The majority of the children had limited access to people from other cultures so I looked like Diane Louise Jordan. The worst class I taught was a bottom set English group 17 boys and 3 girls. I could see the school gates from my window and there were times when I felt like running towards them and never returning. Fortunately, I had an escape (a little less risky), I would walk calmly into my stock cupboard, with the excuse of needing a piece of essential equipment , take some deep breaths, return and smile.
The majority of the time I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere, when a chance conversation with a student made me decide I could be quite a good teacher. He said, ‘Miss is this your first year of teaching?’
I said, .”yes.’
He reassuringly said, ‘you’ll be alright.’
I realised he appreciated that I was there every lesson; I was professional and I was a role model – the adult in the classroom.