Saturday, September 12, 2009

In the Beginning and At the End

The Morrinsville College cross-country race was held early in the first term. There were several promising young athletes from the local club. That bunch broke away early accompanied by one long lanky third form Maori boy. A new teacher I was at one of the early checkpoints with an elderly teacher who said, “he won’t last long, that lot never do.” Inwardly, I wished the youth success.

We got back to the finishing post in time to see him lolloping along way in front. “He wont last long” I said to the four winds, thereby making an enemy in the hierarchy for the duration. As he and the principal were at daggers drawn, my comments labelled me as one of the other camp.

Tact was not one of young teacher McQueen’s virtues. Neither at the beginning was a sense of self-preservation. If I were being as honest as I could I’d probably add that quite a bit of present tact arises from the development of that sense, part of an on-going learning cure. Part of the process of shaping a young teacher is learning about staffroom relationships. Life as a university student is individualistic. When you join a secondary staffroom you become part of a team. Good relationships are vital.

After three years at Morrinsville I left to teach at Thames. Last period on the last day I booked the film room to show my fourth form a Disney wild-life movie. There is in time in teaching when entertainment is entitled. The film finished before the bell was due. We had been forbidden to let classes out before the end of the period. To kill time I ran the film backwards. We were falling about laughing when the bell rang - turtle eggs leaping out of the sand and back into the reptile's body. "You may go" I said. No-one left did as the film continued to wind back. Eventually I stopped it. "Hope you enjoy your next school sir?” After all the learning a little hilarity was a good curtain-call. They left happy and so did I, grateful for survival and what I had learnt and ready for the next challenge.

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