Saturday, 18 September 2010

The Making or Breaking of Miss.

This is a confessional. I have been living a lie. Not a huge one. I’m not married to an RAF officer and I do have four children who, in their own, charming, individual way, ensure the grey hairs are not stymied but creep through my highlights, however hard I attempt to stem the flow.
No, what I have kept hidden all these years is the fact that I am not a qualified teacher. I was in fact a teaching assistant and should have a red badge of courage for my efforts, as should the army of TAs out there, who do a sterling job in keeping kids in their seats as the teacher sets about attempting to teach the little darlings.
I do have a degree in English literature and have harboured the dream of writing my own novel. As yet it hasn’t happened and, with Hubby leaving his beloved Royal Navy in a few years time, it has become more and more apparent that I have to consider a more serious career than the one I have loved. Who would have thought that chronicling my life and, making coffees and paninis for visitors to our ‘forgotten corner’ of Cornwall and, for my beloved regulars, the lattes and flapjacks I would comfort them with when, in the bleak midwinter, they came for a chat would have given me so much satisfaction? But there it is. It has.
Three days ago however, I embarked on a new chapter in my life. That of fully fledged teacher training. To say that I am terrified is an understatement that bears no immediate analogy. It is something that I have put off for years, for many reasons, the most pressing if I’m honest, apart from my dream of novelist, is my utter ‘special needs’ in mathematics. A test has to be passed in maths before I can qualify. Yes, even to be an English teacher. I girded my loins at the weekend and had a go. There are practise tests online. I couldn’t do one. Not one.
Hubby, in his inimitable manner, strode in, shoved me, albeit gently out of my swivel chair and, with a macho, “Tut, tut, how hard can it be Alice?” was himself subdued in seconds, and this is a man who can compute, in his head, in a matter of seconds, all manner of mathematical gymnastics.
“Gee whizz, Alice love”, he said, after completing it, successfully, forty eight minutes later, “You’ve got your work cut out for you”. Thanks for the moral support.
So, it was on our 19th wedding anniversary that I walked into our local University College and took my place beside eleven other wannabe teachers, all of whom should apparently, “Be congratulated on getting this far. The competition was ferocious”. Really? I looked around at my fellow students and not one of them jumped out at me as particularly leonine. To be honest, I thought we seemed quite ordinary. Time will tell.
Our first day was fairly mind boggling with information overload on a number of subjects, primarily the help and support available to us. Immediately after one lecture by the study skills, support team, I hurried to register my ‘disability in maths’. Dyslexia is taking very seriously indeed and there is a wealth of support and finance out there for those who find spelling hard. There is little available to help those of us who find, ‘express 2/5 as a decimal’ or indeed a percentage. The support staff were very kind but had no leaflet to give me. I’ve made an appointment to discuss my ‘issues’ at a later date.
Later, after seeking out a cafeteria, difficult when most of ‘Uni’ has been reduced to rubble, okay, not exactly rubble, but a lot of building work which has demolished the dining hall, our group went in search of lunch. The kids, those youngsters to whom this is just another milestone in their unadulterated lives, went to the pub; a more studious, mature student and I stayed on site and shared an empathic, “My God, what are we doing?” moment. She, having locked herself away these past few years, between school runs and family life, in the solitary confinement of her box room, beavering away at an OU degree, is glad finally, to be released and walk among the living.
So we have been set our first assignment. To create a name badge. I was thrilled. Whilst the other young things groaned, I knew that I had a secret army. Two little girls who can think of nothing better than to get the felt-tips out, some stickers and the glitter. How can I fail? A mature student, hoping one day to inspire the minds of future generations is surely one who, through strong leadership, is one who can delegate and get those subordinate to her to do all the ‘admin’. To be continued...


Jinksy said...

Very best of luck in your new undertaking - numbers included! :)

Alice Band said...

Thankyou Jinksy

Anonymous said...

you are brave ... all the very best of luck/ I know what you mean about maths .... I failed O level and then my mother, a maths teacher (yes,how embarrassing), coached me to the lowest pass you can possible get!!! How, I will never know ... numbers send me scurrying to a dark corner!

DL said...

Good luck with it all, AB. Must admit, I'm a little envious: I realised too late that it's the career I should have followed from many years ago.

Best wishes,
D. x