Friday, 18 September 2015

February is Chinese New Year...and a lot of changes!

I found myself starting off February newly single again and in the middle of a friendship skirmish. I found that I had moved across the country for two people who now were missing from my life. I was also absolutely drowning at school now. It was excellent timing for my best friend from university to move to London and invite me for a weekend visit!

We visited King's Cross train station and I attempted to escape to Hogwarts.

I was much too excited to visit the Harry Potter store. 

 After we found out we couldn't go to wizarding school, we toured around London for the day.

The next morning we woke up early to go to the Chinese New Year parade. It was an exciting year, as it is year of the horse (which my friend and I both are).

It is hard to see parades when you are short.

Overall a great weekend! The good news continued when previously said friendship issue was resolved upon my return to Portsmouth. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for school.

My school had been telling me since I began that they would be providing support for me in my position that I had yet to hear even word of. I had some very lovely coworkers who were helping me the best that they could. 

In England teachers are required to mark each piece of work students complete, every day. This includes an assessment of whether they have achieved their learning objective (which must be displayed to the children during lesson - something I was still unfamiliar with), a note of something they did well, and next steps for the child. As you can imagine, this took up the majority of my waking hours (especially as I was still getting used to the way in which I was expected to mark). I was marking books on the train on the way to work, in my classroom before school, during my lunch break, after school, on the train home, and on my couch at home until I went to bed. Then there was lesson planning (which, luckily, was a shared responsibility with my year group partners and I). On top of this I had a class full of behaviour issues and children who were angry that their teacher had left them midway through a year. I'm not one to complain, but I was absolutely floundering. 

Despite these issues, I showed up to school everyday happy to have my own class to teach and trying my absolute hardest to stay above the water. 

To understand the state my school was in you would need to be familiar with OFSTED (which is a 'they who must not be named' kind of situation for teachers in the UK). OFSTED is a governing body for education in the UK. They come and visit schools for 3 days at a time, watch lessons, look through books, test scores, records, interview staff, students and leadership and make a judgement on that school that is written in a report and posted to the public. Schools are rating on a scale of 1-4 (1 being outstanding, and 4 being inadequate). Most schools are in constant fear of an OFSTED inspection, especially if they are already judged as a 3 or 4. My school was a 4 and expecting an inspection soon.

This was causing a lot of stress across the staff. We had recently acquired a new head teacher who was good at her job, but very abrupt. She did a surprise drop in to one of my lessons and at the end of the day came in to my room, told me that I had potential but that the school didn't have time to give me the support I needed and that I wouldn't be coming back to teach on Monday. My deputy head teacher acknowledged that they had not given me the support or information that I deserved. It was obviously hard to hear, and shook me quite a bit - I had never been let go from a position before in my life!

I called my supply agency to explain what had happened, and they told me that this kind of thing happens all the time! She very kindly told me that they would take care of me and I was immediately put back on the supply list. 

To this day I am so thankful that I had already booked my trip to Rome (which took place two weeks after this incident) before this happened. If I hadn't, I was ready to pack it in and move back to Canada that next day. I would have missed out on so many more great adventures!

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