Monthly Archives: March 2016

Fits and starts

At some point during my twenty-seventh teaching interview, I began to lose focus. I gazed out of the window, at the empty playground, the brightly-coloured things to run around and climb on, and wondered why I was really there in the room at all.

I carried on talking, obviously. I talked about my passion for teaching, how those lightbulb moments made me excited about children’s progress, how I wanted to get the best from every child no matter where they started from, and so on and so on, and I think I meant it – I’m pretty sure I meant it – but I knew that I was settling back into a familiar routine, of trying to persuade people that I wasn’t going to persuade that I should do the job that they weren’t going to give me. I sipped my coffee and knew it wasn’t going to end well. Maybe a phone call later that evening; maybe a sad little voice message; maybe something else, or just nothing at all, or a bit of helpful “feedback”, but it was going to end the same way. It always ends the same way.

This time, the feedback was that the interview was “faultless” and the lesson was “brilliant”. I didn’t get the job, obviously, but it wasn’t because I lost focus, or thought I wouldn’t get the job, or because of some lingering negativity, which you might already be hoping is actually the reason I didn’t get the job, and maybe if I corrected that and was just a bit more jazz-hands then everything would be ok… no, that’s not going to work, I’m afraid. It was just the same as it always is. I’d be a terrific teacher… at someone else’s school. That’s what they all say nowadays. Oh, you’ll get something very soon, you’re bound to… but I don’t.

Having listened and learned and grown as a teacher for the best part of three years, I’ve reached the point where my interviews are exceptional and my lessons are great and I’m still not getting the job, because… well, I’ve given up guessing about the because, or the how, or the why, and frankly who cares? I don’t give a shit anymore. I’m fed up with playing the game and ending up with the same result every time.

At the moment, I’m bouncing along from one interview to another, one little flickering candle of hope to another, which is quickly removed. Soon I’ll be having to go back to schools for the second or third time. I’m running out of schools where I haven’t worked or been interviewed. So what? So it’s humiliating, every time, and every time it gets a little bit harder. I go into schools as a TA for a day because I need the money, and I work with teachers who quite frankly do not have a clue how to do anything, and they got jobs and I didn’t, and it’s depressing, and I am finding it harder and harder to get over it.

It’s getting to the point now where each little rejection is a bit of a relief. Thank goodness, I think, another school where I won’t be working. Another job that is never going to happen. Because it brings me closer to a point where I can just chuck this in altogether. And although it’s sad, that’s where I am, and that’s where it’s going. And it’s not likely to change very soon.

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Posted by on March 26, 2016 in Uncategorized


All I’ve wanted

All I’ve wanted all week is to be able to write, and, now I have half an hour to myself, the words won’t really come out. It’s a pain in the arse because I really don’t have enough time to sit around and plan and reflect on writing anymore; I just have to shove stuff down onto the keyboard and hope it goes somewhere. This is just a bit of rehearsing or finger-flexing before it actually arrives, I think; it’s not really going to rip up any trees.

But that sums up a week in which I have:

  • Been told I was “eminently employable” by someone who didn’t want to give me a job
  • Been told I was “lacking the necessary enthusiasm” by someone who didn’t want to give me a job
  • taught grammar (including the present perfect, which this has been written in) but found myself disagreeing with the way in which we’re doing it as a set of disconnected functions rather than as a living, breathing, organic whole wonderful thing
  • listened to Dog Man Star on pretty much a loop for the entire week, discovering that Asphalt World magpies quite a lot from Hendrix and Janis Joplin (which is no bad thing) despite it being such an album of its time, taking a surprising “ecstasy is actually shit” stance when in those days we were all meant to be gurning around in sweaty techno clubs after ingesting a couple of ropey doves
  • worked with special needs classes and found them to be actually easier to work with than mainstream classes at most of the schools I teach in; and, come to think of it, more fun to work with… but no. There won’t be any job there either, as I lack the relevant experience and training and, yes of course, am eminently employable and yet lack the necessary enthusiasm
  • been high-fived by my daughter as she sat eating strawberries, which was just rather lovely.

Anyway, look, I have no idea what I came in for. I am the middle-aged man who finds himself in the kitchen but has no idea why. I am that man quite a lot of the time, literally doing that. But today, I am trying to write. Remembering that I once upon a time actually got paid real money by actual people to write things, this is at once a disappointment and a cheer, meaning as it does that I might have been kidding myself that I was ever any good at it anyway.

Do you ever start something and feel you can’t bring yourself to finish it, or do it properly? I think that’s kind of how my career is now, and how everything is. I’m still sitting, waiting, for things to get better, for the tide to come in.

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Posted by on March 12, 2016 in Uncategorized