Teaching, or sh@t I couldn't make up...
Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
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It felt only right to celebrate my 20,000th thumb by talking about what I do when I'm not gaming or being a Dad.

During the day I'm employed as a teacher.

Some of the experiences I have had during the many years of doing this job have have been great, some of them haven't.

My best friend at work wants to write a book about his experiences in education and call it 'You couldn't make this shit up' because not everything we do in this job makes total sense.

I thought I would adapt it for my geeklist.

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1. Board Game: I'm the Boss!: The Card Game [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:7799]
Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
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In a school the Headteacher is Lord of all he/she surveys.

I've had the privilege of working under several different Heads. Some are really good and understand what a difficult job it is we have to do. However my first one was so deeply unpopular that when his teen daughter died some staff described it as God's Judgement. I didn't but then I'm not religious. Like a lot of the so-called caring professions, it's surprising how callous it can make you.

The rumour was that he spent his days playing 'Championship Manager' on his computer. Certainly he liked to keep himself to himself. The one exception to that was if there was some teacher who needed to be shouted at for cocking up. To be fair, he was good at that. After all, what else are you going to do with someone who has offered a lift to two illegal immigrants on the school coach because they felt sorry for them?

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2. Board Game: Vinhos [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:294]
Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
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I often wondered why some of the old timers I worked with were heavy drinkers. Then I found out that this job is quite stressful and that this was their way of coping with it.

Many years ago I went on an overseas school trip with one colleague who was obviously feeling particularly stressed because when we picked him up to take him to the coach he was very drunk. Sadly we needed a body to keep up the ratio of adults to children so we had to forget our initial impulse,(which was to leave him on the side of the road where he was propped up by his suitcase), and take him with us.

Needless to say it was a chaotic few days and since I had a room next to his I got to hear it first hand, including him wrestling with his curtains at one thirty in the morning for reasons that were never clearly explained. Thankfully, after two falls and a submission, he went back to sleep.

Of course the pupils realised he had spent a large chunk of the weekend completely pissed, but here's the thing. If they like you kids are pretty loyal and they liked him because he was actually a good teacher. Not a whisper of it got back to the school and we all dodged a bullet.
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3. Board Game: Munchkin Promo Cards [Average Rating:6.68 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.68 Unranked]
Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
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To help us in the classroom we sometimes have teaching assistants.

Not in every classroom because they are usually attached to kids with specific needs. That's cool because my youngest is ASD so I'm grateful for all the help he gets. However they do vary in usefulness - a bit like teachers.

I had one in my first year in the job that combined a shocking level of ignorance with just a hint of crazy. My favourite moment with her was overhearing the pupil she was attached to (who had a reading age of six) quite rightly correct her spelling. She had such a complete disregard of social norms that if I heard anyone chatting in the classroom at inappropriate moments it was usually her.

I think to be truthful she was just lonely and if the only person who would talk to her was a thirteen year old with learning difficulties then that was ok by her. In my second year I had a bit more confidence and whenever she turned up in my lesson I told her she wasn't needed.
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4. Board Game: The Dolphin Training Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
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Every so often we get training so we can learn new stuff.

Education keeps some very undeserving people in a well-paid job. These people call themselves consultants and they prey on the paranoia that some Heads seem to have, that most of their staff are actually incompetent but just hide it very well.

Anyway, it might just be a cliché to say that those who can't do - teach, but it has certainly been my experience that those who can't teach end up running training days for those who can.

On one occasion I was sufficiently irritated by one 'expert' that I graded and evidenced her performance against the criteria that she had been ramming down our throats, (she scraped a satisfactory). When I presented my findings to her she was lost for words - for the first time that day.

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5. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:215]
Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
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A surprising amount of flirting goes on in school.

And not just between the staff. A number of teachers will find a teenager that develops a bit of a crush on them. As part of my preparation for my PGCE (Post-Graduate Certificate of Education) I had to go and spend two weeks in a school observing different professionals doing their thing. One of the comments I got from a senior member of staff in her forties really surprised me. She told me that she used flirting as a way of controlling unruly boys. That's the thing, it doesn't seem to be about age or appearance. One former colleague, who married a (just ex) pupil, looked like Santa's pervy twin brother. Mind you she divorced him a few years later. Somebody suggested that was because she had finally worked out the password on his computer.

Fortunately most teachers get used to this sort of attention and just regard it as a peril of the job. The ones who don't, either get away with it, (like my old PE teacher), or end up in prison and that's the sort of lottery not many people want to play.
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6. Board Game: Slogan [Average Rating:3.18 Unranked]
Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
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Schools are very conscious about their image these days.

Despite being a state school, we still have a school motto and because we are a state school it's in English rather than Latin. It's all about achieving excellence but for some staff it might as well have been in Latin because they can't spell 'achieving' or 'excellence'.

As well as the school motto we have lots of slogans on our walls. That's the thing about slogans - you can't just have a few of them. They are everywhere you go. The only exception is the toilets - unless you think 'please leave this toilet as you would like to find it' is a slogan.

Come to think of it, for some political parties, it might actually be a very apt one.
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7. Board Game: Innovation [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:278]
Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
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People can't help dicking about with education.

I suspect this is because everyone has been to school so they think it makes them an expert. Sadly this isn't true but it certainly can make them opinionated. None more so than our recently 'promoted out of the job' Education Minister Michael Gove.

His idea of a revolution in teaching was to ignore advice from the vast majority of professionals who tried to point out the chaos he was creating and focus on the few that reinforced his own prejudices.

However, the great thing about all innovations is they go around in circles and if you stay still you will eventually be cutting edge. You just need to survive in the job long enough for this to happen.
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8. Board Game: Revolution! [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:1003]
Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Teaching is an emotional roller-coaster. It can be very rewarding when you see kids making progress and you've been a part of that. Not much beats that feeling. Also, unless you are a complete ogre or just don't wash, students will have a laugh and a joke with you and it makes the day go more quickly.

However, it can also be the worst of times. Like having a raging teenager screaming abuse in your face because you've politely suggested that she might want to stop pushing past people on the stairs or a sixteen year old boy with more muscles than brains squaring up to you because you have had the temerity to ask him to move away from the back of an ambulance to allow access to a child that has been badly injured.

A very high percentage of teachers quit in the first few years. Some just aren't suited and it's the right decision for everyone but some, given the right support and a bit of encouragement many would go on to be excellent practitioners but this is a job where they shoot their wounded.
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