Hard as Steele - well, almost

9th July 2004 at 01:00
A long, long time ago (I can still remember how that music used to make me cry), I was having a crisis of confidence. Thanks solely to my performance with one second-year class on my first ever teaching practice, I had been told by a kindly PT that I would never be aggressive enough to be a teacher.

It seemed that I could do everything connected with the job well except interact properly with the pupils. I was heading for being a Scooby-Doo teacher. If it wasn't for those meddling kids, I'd get away with it.

Prone in those days to flights of fancy, I wondered if I could make a living from preparing educational resources. This was something people told me I was good at. Perhaps I could buy an old camper van and tour the Highlands, putting stuff together while admiring the scenery, scaling the odd mountain when I needed inspiration.

The realistic part of my personality told the flight of fantasy part to get a grip and went off to seek a second opinion on the aggression stuff. The rest, as they say in 5-14 speak, is environmental studies.

Now that the secondment is well under way, I am clearer than ever before about the parts of the job I enjoy. Though I am out and about a fair bit, going to conferences, meeting astronauts, getting trained or training other people, I do spend entire days in the office making up resources.

I don't dislike doing this but I get fidgety after a while, stretching, swivelling unobtrusively in my seat and swigging from a water bottle. If this last-mentioned activity ultimately necessitates a loo visit, so much the better.

I did get a chance to sort-of teach in the penultimate week of term, having offered to go out to schools to do induction into the Scholar programme with senior pupils. For a physics-teaching junkie this was a methadone fix, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Apart from being able to work with students again, I was able to add to my unofficial guide to our local authority schools which is called "How Good Are Our Cakes?", a series of performance indicators based on what's on offer at intervals.

I was not only reminded about the enjoyable parts of teaching. After one day spent doing induction for five periods, followed by a spell in the office, I arrived home and slumped on the sofa. "Look at you!" said my teacher wife. "You've been out of the classroom for two months. You do a bit of teaching and you're shattered."

But she had to make her point about how taxing it is to stand up in front of weans at another time. I was already asleep.

Gregor Steele awarded the school that gave him a strawberry tart a 4.

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