Teaching – as if it were industry

Having spent roughly the same amount of time teaching as I did working in IT as a programmer / analyst, I thought I’d summarise what the teaching day is like for these new would-be Computer Science teachers.  It’s a tongue-in-cheek analysis!

You arrive at work at about 8-ish and spend a little time preparing for the day.  At 8:30 you have a 1 hour meeting.  During this meeting you need to impress people.  The attendees don’t especially want to be there, although some of them are quite excited, but it’s important that they know more and can do more at the end of the meeting than they could at the beginning.  You spend most of the meeting walking around the room.  It’s a good idea not to talk for a long time yourself but instead to ask questions of the attendees.  Make sure you ask well thought out open questions and ensure all the attendees are called upon to respond.  You need to have thought up some stimulating activities for these attendees to do during the meeting as well.

As soon as that meeting finishes you have a second meeting.  The format will be largely the same as the first although the attendees will be different and the subject matter will vary.

At the end of the second meeting you need to go to a third, shorter meeting (only 20 minutes this time).  To get there you have to walk up a 50m corridor which is about 1.5 m wide.  The difficulty is that about 200 people will be coming the other way.  Most of them will not be looking where they are going and 3 of them will be swinging their bags.  At this third meeting you have 20 minutes to make announcements, find out why some people didn’t attend meetings, and sign forms for 25 attendees.  You are also supposed to pray for a bit.

Finally you get to have a cup of tea after this as you have 20 minutes without meetings!  A large room is allocated to this but only a small corner has been given over to the facilities to make the cup of tea.  It seems to have been designed by someone who has never made a hot drink.  Nevertheless the 40-odd people who use this space perform a daily dance around each other and manage to make some sort of drink.  If you are lucky you will get to drink it too.  Try to fit in a loo-stop before the next meeting.

Once a week however you can’t put your feet up during this session as you have to stand outside and watch some of the meeting attendees running around, or instruct them on queuing procedures.

After this well deserved rest you will have another 2 hours of meetings back to back before lunch beckons.  You may find however that you spend much of this lunch “hour” talking to meeting attendees about why they didn’t pull their weight in your meetings.  You don’t have to do this of course but it’s quite hard to do your job well otherwise.

After lunch, another meeting.

During any of these meetings, certain unexpected things might happen which you should be prepared for:

  • attendees are sometimes late
  • someone might cry
  • someone will probably sneeze all over you
  • you will have to ask someone to wash their muddy hands before touching your keyboards
  • someone might say “I dont gedddd itttt” in a really whiny voice despite you having explained “it” in 4 different ways and asked them to stop looking at their hair in computer screen 3 times
  • someone will delete all their work without realising it and claim the computer didn’t save it

Occasionally you will find yourself with an hour (10% of the time) where you have no meetings and can do some work.  The work you have to do comprises planning for meetings and assessing what went on with them as well as countless other tasks.  Hopefully coming from industry you will be familiar with the concept of hotdesking.  This will be useful to you as the first 10 minutes will be spent finding somewhere to work.

Sometimes you will be able to leave at 3pm – like you might have done on Fridays in some industry jobs.  More likely you will be there until 4:30 or later catching up on work.  You will also do a bit more work later that evening.  From time to time you will have meetings with the parents of your meeting attendees.  This will involve 3 hours of 5 minute appointments.  Most of the people you see you will talk about what a great attendee they are raising.  The ones you need to talk to won’t be there.

You will get lots of holidays and your friends will probably moan about this.  Holidays are when you catch up with the work you don’t have time to do at work.

Of course, while all of this is true.  There are some genuinely great things about teaching (which mean that I won’t be heading back to industry any time soon).

  • year 11 coursework deadline isn’t going to move and isn’t going to be shelved due to a changed business direction or a takeover
  • you won’t be lining the pockets of an already rich industrialist
  • very often some of your pupils will absolutely “get it” and be delighted to show you their progress
  • one of your pupils will make you laugh out loud in a good way every day
  • occasionally pupils will come up to you after the meeting and thank you for a great meeting
  • you get to go on school trips to interesting, cool and fun places
  • you get to take part in madcap charity fundraising events (1:36) which gets over 8,000 YouTube hits
  • you are challenged, every day, in a way you often can’t predict
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