Living in London: Two Weeks in Schools

I really hate most things that are in any way official. I hate filling out forms. I hate complying with regulations. I hate following specific directions. I understand that these things are sometimes really important and not as arbitrary as they often seem, but I still hate them. I have a difficult time reading instructions all the way through (I generally get about half way through a recipe and then make up the rest), so I worry that I’ll misunderstand or misread something and then mess it up and somehow a ton of money or get arrested or maybe just piss people off. I usually try to ignore official things and hope they take care of themselves but so far that hasn’t worked.

So, I messed up one of the documents that I needed before I could start working in schools here, and I couldn’t actually start work until the day after my contract said I would start. Which wasn’t a big deal at all but I did feel sort of vindicated because several people told me that everything would be fine and then it turned out I actually had screwed something up. I guess I showed them.

Anyway, I’ve spent about the last two weeks in the British school system. It’s different from what I’m used to, which doesn’t surprise me. I’ve spent a large chunk of my life, both as a student and as a teacher, at one school, and I know that it’s unlike other schools in Canada or probably anywhere. I can’t draw any real conclusions about the differences between schools here and schools back home. I’ve seen some things here that I really disagree with but I feel like I would likely see similar things at more conventional Canadian schools. I want to keep an open mind, because I know that the education system I’m used to worked for me, but I also know that I arrived in that education system from a very specific set of privileged circumstances. While I did learn a lot in my first four years of teaching, I had my conceptions of what makes a good teacher or a good learning environment reaffirmed several times. I’d like to see things that challenge my assumptions.

Like I predicted a couple weeks ago, I’ve seriously considered all kinds of things for next year. I really don’t know what I want to do with my life. I know I want to teach, because that really is the best job I can imagine having, but I don’t know where I want to do it and I don’t know if I want to study it more or be entirely practical. I’m really enjoying my current job, because I get the benefit of working and connecting with students without the time suck that is prep work and marking, but I don’t know if I would want this kind of job for longer than a year. I love having time to read about problems with feminism and its lack of intersectionality, but I find that I want to then take those ideas and bring them into a classroom and hear what my students have to say about them. And I can’t really do that in the role I have right now.

So, I guess this is how I’ll feel for the next little while. In flux and unsure. I’m happy, which is good, but I wouldn’t say I’m completely comfortable, which is maybe also good for right now. And I filled out a form all by myself this weekend, so maybe I’m growing up a bit too.


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