I reckon that one of the reasons why I have not been blogging so much since September is the situation at work. The school I teach at – a French state school – has been going from bad to worse in the past few years.
Although we still have some great students, we also seem to have more than a fair share of rude, lazy, inconsiderate teenagers who spend their time texting from their phones and fail to understand why this enrages us.
Some colleagues are off-sick because they suffer from burn out or depression. Only this morning an experienced economics teacher burst into tears at 8 because of a violent incident that had happened yesterday evening and which meant she felt she could not face her class today.
I personally have an ongoing battle with a business class about coats (which they refuse to take off), textbooks (which they don’t bother to bring to class), note taking (which they try to avoid) and endless conversations (between themselves). I try not to give up because of what I believe a decent lesson should be like but it’s hard.
Dialogue with the administration is not easy. The deputy head blames everything on our inability to deal with students and is convinced that he would do a much better job if he were in our shoes. This obviously does not help and only creates more tension and frustration. The head is new, which means he is still very cautious in his dealings with the whole staff.
As a result, in December, we decided to unite and work together to improve the situations on several fronts. We made a list of the people who are sick and tired of the whole situation, asked them to email their complaints and organized a three-hour meeting (at the beginning of January) which 50 teachers attended and during which we drew up a list of problems and (suggested) solutions. This resulted in a short meeting with the administration yesterday where they agreed to consider our points and discuss them with us at the beginning of March.
So far we are not sure much will come out of this but the climate in the staff room has improved. People are more talkative and some colleagues now dare to share their problems. This is a small step albeit an important one in a profession where people are reluctant to admit failures and difficulties.