The Challenge

I have just finished my first week in a London classroom. To the person who once asked me if teaching would be challenging enough – I’d be surprised if you lasted a day.

Because I do not have formal teaching qualifications, I have started as a Teaching Assistant (TA) – this means that I’m in a class with a fully qualified teacher who gives the lessons while I get to sit at the back with students who are struggling and go through the concepts with them again. When the class is working, I walk around and help whoever I can. I have to do the staff meetings, and the break duties, and the kids all call me “Miss”. But I don’t have to plan lessons, or talk to parents. It’s all the good of teaching without the paperwork.

This was just supposed to be a one-week stint while the school interviewed some candidates to take on the role more permanently, but they’ve asked me to stay. So, for the next year at least, this is my new reality. I’m working in a Catholic primary school in central London with a year 4 class. That means from 8:30 to 15:30, Monday to Friday, I get to play with a class of 30 eight year old boys and girls! I don’t know if anybody remembers what being eight was like; it’s that age where you’ve just perfected the eye-roll, the word “willy” makes you giggle, you can still get away with wearing pigtails, you trade pokeman cards under the table, you don’t have to invite the whole class to your birthday party anymore, you have a whole lot of attitude, and you still can’t quite spell all the words you can say. It’s a pretty cool age. It’s also the age where kids start being kind of mean and taking sides and using names.

So in-between the lessons of multiplying by 100, learning the difference between “biter” and “bitter”, and studying life in the Caribbean; there are tears to dry, punishments to give, and friendships to mend. It’s challenging and frustrating and wonderful all rolled into one. And yes, Nurofen might have to become a permanent addition to my handbag but when a little boy does a fist pump with an accompanying “yiiiiis” in response to the news that I’ll be back next week, the challenge seems worth it.

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