Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Makeup & Pregnancy Tests

Today I returned from the classroom, to be greeted by a very friendly Australian, who is currently cohabitating in the same room. Exhausted from her travels throughout the UK, she quickly asked me:
“Do you like London? I don’t really like it here.”
My response: “It’s not my favourite place in the world.”
“It’s just so unfriendly!” she responded, with some relief.
I smiled knowingly. “Everyone here is just sad…”…and some days, that is what it feels like.

I spent another glorifying day in the classroom. Yes, a touch of sarcasm. I am exhausted and my feet ache. I am still not used to the idea of teaching in heals – grin and bear it, right?

My day was comprised of four periods of science and one period of English. Truthfully English should have been a breeze; it’s a subject that I actually enjoy (mainly because it doesn’t require a lot of brain power, and as long as you can muster some sort of abstract thought, it is a doable subject; plus I spend most of my time in abstract thought!). English as it turned out, was hell. What should have been a thrilling period of watching the DiCaprio-Danes version of Romeo & Juliet, turned into a classroom management nightmare. My classroom quickly transformed into a make shift beauty school – at one point I was actually gagging on the perfume. I do not know why teenage girls believe that makeup looks best when it is caked in suppressive layers, but I would like to say that the Year 10 class is singlehandedly keeping Revlon, Rimmel (etc) in business. I am actually impressed by their over-the-top beauty skills. I would fall over if I had that much weight and pressure applied directly to my face. Luckily the amount of hair product that they apply apparently keeps them upright.

Frustrated by the makeup situation I asked another teacher:
“What do you do about the makeup situation? It is beginning to irritate me.”
The teacher…a young man…looked at me just as helplessly.
“Well…ya…basically it is up to the forum tutor to make sure that it is confiscated.”
“Huh. That’s helpful.”
His answer was a knowing smile.

Science posed other challenges. I had what was described as a “difficult” class. Luckily the “difficult” class had a practical assignment. The assignment was fairly basic – take your temperature with a thermometer.

“Miss, these themometers look like pregnancy tests.”
I hadn’t actually noticed the similarity. Furthermore I am concerned that a 15 year old girl was so quick to point out the similarity.
We soon realized that there were not enough tests…thermometers to go around…

“Miss, I will go and ask Mr.HeadofDepartment for some more pregnancy tests.”
“That’s a good idea. Please refrain from calling them pregnancy tests to his face.”

Today I decided that it was time to answer one of my more perplexing questions. Many of the girls have their boyfriend’s names written on their hands…I love Johnny…Dave + Suzy forever. Even at 15 I never felt the inspiration to etch a boy’s name into my hand. So I ask:
“If I write my boyfriend’s name on my hand, does that make it official?”
Naturally, I received a bunch of blank stares.
“Miss, what do you mean?”
“Well I have noticed that most girls have their boyfriend’s names written on their hands. Is that some way of making it official? Should I do the same?”
“Oh Miss, its just silly to write your boyfriend’s name on your hand.”
I am still clueless.

I will say that there are various topics that I do not like to hear about in my class. Unfortunately working in an all-girls school comes with a certain amount of drama. As a cover teacher there are various things that I do not want to hear about. Sex and alcohol are two of those topics that I prefer to not have discussed in my presence. Though, I am shocked by the knowledge of thirteen and fourteen year old students. Please keep it out of my classroom – at 28 there are things that I don’t want to know. Periodically I feel tempted to stagger across the field that separates the girl’s school from the boy’s school – surely there can’t be as much drama in a boy’s school. I do have a theory about the makeup though – I have realized that at break the girls must go and press their faces up against the chain-link fence and ogle the boys. In order to diminish the appearance of the chainlink imprints, they are forced to reapply their makeup - repeatedly.

Finally, much to my delight, the student who I had shove me on Monday was back in my class today. I initially felt sympathy for her on Monday – felt that she had been provoked. Apparently it does not take much to provoke her. In fact, all it took was my asking her to complete her assignment. She didn’t shove me though :-p I suppose that is one feather in my cap.

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