Pearls of wisdom from my students

We are fast approaching the end of my first term as an English teacher. It has been… interesting. I may not have been able to impart a love of literature on my students, we may be a little behind on the Controlled Assessment schedule, but they all know the etymology of a hell of a lot of swear words, and why swearing is considered impolite.

I work in FE, but I teach children who are still in compulsory schooling (I teach as part of a course for students who have been excluded or are otherwise outside of mainstream education). So my charges are at times perhaps a little mouthier and a little cheekier than your mainstream class might otherwise be. Swearing, grudges, arguments and disobedience may be familiar to most teachers, but I hope there are very few classes where burning test papers, threatening to stab each other, actually getting stabbed and turning up to class drunk/stoned are regular occurrences…

At any rate, they are entertaining and frustrating in equal measures. Amongst the highlights this term have been:

  • Student A burning his test paper. When asked not to burn it, his response was to set fire to Student D’s…
  • “Sir, you look like a gay farmer”–an oddly specific fashion critique delivered by Student A
  • “Is this going to be another boring lesson where we have to learn stuff?”–Student C doesn’t quite grasp why we’re having lessons…
  • “I speak English much well betterer than you sir innit.”–Student A demonstrates my point about why he ought to pay more attention when I’m teaching him about Standard English.
  • “Can we watch a film today sir?”–the cry of every class, at the start of every lesson. Since the start of term. Jesus wept.
  • “Sir, where’d you get your shoes from?”–not as common as “can we watch a film”, but Group B have an odd fascination with my footwear…
  • “Dave!”–my name, according to Group B…
  • “Paulie babes”–my name, according to Group A…
  • “Dave!” “It’s not Dave, it’s Paulie babes.” “Nah, it’s Dave. Dave, tell them your name is Dave.”–an argument outside the staffroom while I was trying to have my coffee break…
  • “I’m going to put you in Room 101 sir!”–threat from Student S when I insisted she deliver her presentation (the topic was Room 101). When I told her she could put me in if she wanted and realised I wasn’t kidding, she actually delivered a good presentation!
  • “This is a waste of time when we could be doing stuff to help us pass our GCSE.”–Student G’s reason for putting Room 101 into Room 101 for his presentation. The presentation which was being assessed and would count towards passing his GCSE…
  • “Uurgh, that’s disgusting. If I ever go to Wales they’d better not make me eat that.”–Student L on being told what’s in a haggis. I’m only responsible for English, not geography…

I have had Group A for the last time this term, and my last session with Group B will be on Tuesday. And we will be watching a film (yes, I have seen Bad Teacher, why do you ask?)–but it is an adaptation of the book they will be reading next term, so it’s educational, honest!

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