It’s been a while since I was in a classroom and since I received my injury I’ve not done a whole lot. Being my dominant right hand I can’t type, write or function anywhere near normal. York School has been hugely supportive of my recovery and we’d spoken of a plan to bring me back slowly, perhaps starting at the end of October with one or two senior classes where I wouldn’t need to do any running around.
Rule Number 5
I was asked to take on five classes recently. In many ways I am extremely happy to be back to real work, chatting to kids, having some fun, serving more of a purpose than just promoting the schools with my foreign appearance. I just live in perpetual fear that one of the children will jump on me or maybe pull my arm clean off.
So, as we go over the introductions about me and how I am going to manage the class etc, I tell the students of the new rules. They’re normally a mixture of the same rules for all the teachers, No Chinese, Be Nice/Polite, Stay Seated, and Listen to Teacher. My fifth rule is now ‘Don’t Touch the Teacher’. A simple and easy rule to follow, some might think, although there has already been a near miss or two.
Breaking the Ice
Getting to know the students though has been great fun and I have really missed that in the last few weeks. My arm is also an excellent way of interesting the children, making them more aware of others in the classroom and also getting their help to do things for me. Pick up pencils, clean the whiteboard, bring me a coffee. All things that a one armed man has no chance of doing.
Luckily too all the classes are of a medium to high level making the conversations a little easier, the lessons a bit more relaxed and so far everything is ticking along nicely. Sometimes when you have a popular teacher it can be hard to take over their classes because the children, and even the parents, miss you just a little bit. I have experienced it before when I have taken over a class and the previous teacher has been too liberal in their discipline – not that I’m a sergeant major – and the class runs slightly amok. Obviously the children like this and they can either pine for their old teacher or fall in to line quickly. So far there hasn’t been a problem.
It is best to set the tone as early as possible, make your changes before the students have a time to think and continue without a second thought. This is where my experience helps, especially when I first started some of the students definitely tried pushing the boundaries of what was okay and being none the wiser I perhaps didn’t help myself.
Teaching With a Broken Arm
It is a little difficult dictating the class as I used to and writing on the whiteboard is a massive no. I keep my arm in a sling at all times and make sure that the students know the class will be like this for a while. I still try and make it as fun and as exciting for them as possible, but it is hard to get excited myself when every movement might hurt just a little amount. Apart from that I am feeling fine and looking forward to getting to know them over the next six months and hopefully improve their English whether they are willing or not. October marks the final six months of my contract and I guess my teaching style has evolved with it. By the end of November my arm would have had three months to heal, so fingers crossed by this time I can do away with Rule #5.