Monday, 21 April 2014

Some 'I'm glad YouTube wasn't invented' moments

Today's headline in The Telegraph reads,

"School pupils trolling teachers with 'vile' abuse on Facebook and Twitter"

Apparently one in five teachers have suffered in this way and even parents are posting up bad things about their children's teachers. What happened to the days when teaching was a respected profession?

I was a teacher for about 20 years. I don't think I was particularly bad at my job. It's just that all of us teachers have had those 'I'm glad YouTube wasn't invented' moments. In fact, I'm going to share two of mine with you now.

'I'm glad YouTube wasn't invented' Moment 1:

I trained as a History teacher at a time when History was 'out of fashion'. I had to teach Integrated Humanities instead and hated it. My first 'I'm glad YouTube wasn't invented' moment came towards the end of a Sociology lesson with a large class of unenthusiastic 15 year olds. I was showing them slides - yes that dates me - illustrating the Concentric Zone Theory of City development. I was just finishing the presentation when the bell went for break time. The class leapt to their feet, knocked my pile of slides to the floor as they rushed for the door and trod on my fingers as well as the slides. It only took a moment and it was a long time ago but I've never forgotten it. Neither have I forgotten the way the staff room was reduced to tears as I retold the event, but had there been a mobile phone in that room switched to Record... I dread to think of the consequences.

I soon retrained and spent the rest of my teaching career as a Primary School Teacher working with children from 7 to 11. Yes, that age group are kinder, easier to handle but there have still been some of those moments.

'I'm glad YouTube wasn't invented' Moment 2:

The newly introduced Science Curriculum insisted that we teach basic aerodynamics. How else can you teach a class of 8 to 9 year olds about aerodynamics other than by making paper aeroplanes. I should, of course, have warned the Head of my plans - this was in the days when we didn't have to submit plans in advance - and you can guess his reaction when he came into my classroom followed by two rather formal-looking visitors only to be caught in the crossfire of paper aeroplane battles from all corners of the room.

I do have some lovely memories of teaching but those would never have been recorded even if YouTube had been invented. My proudest moment as a teacher came during an Open Day when a girl I had taught from the age of 9 to 11 visited from her secondary school. She thanked me and said that she had never understood maths until she was in my class. Now that's the kind of thing that teachers of today need to have posted up on Facebook, shouted out from YouTube.

So if your child has a positive achievement at school, and I know they all do, please post it up on Facebook and thank her teacher because, when you're a teacher, words of thanks are rarely heard.

Three cheers for teachers!


  1. Hi Ros .. I think social media is great for some things - but so much more of it is being used for the negatives in life .. and that simply cannot be good for any of us. I've some friends with late teen/early 20 kids and they just don't use it .. and frankly I can see why.

    Appalling behaviour on the part of adults - not censoring their child, nor being intelligent enough to realise as you say teaching is a very worthwhile profession ..

    I get put off social media more and more .. cheers Hilary

  2. There are few more important jobs in the whole world than teaching children.

    I can't help feeling that lack of respect comes from the top - give the way the government treat them, can we really blame children and parents for treating them badly. Oh don't get me started on Michael Gove ... grrrrrr

  3. My mom was a teacher, my sister was a teacher and I was a teacher.
    Very sad the way social media is being used to abuse teachers.
    I cannot imagine.

    Thanks for being the caring teacher you were.

    1. It's frightening what happened to you after your slide show presentation, Rosalind. Though the kids must've loved it, it's a shame that the Head Master had to walk in during the paper aeroplane battle. How wonderful that your student came back to thank you! I wish that you had been my math teacher, and I would've raved about you on Facebook!


  4. Teachers were different back then. No-one cared about qualifications or C:D boundaries or red tape and paperwork. They cared about whether teachers and pupils related to each other. Schools weren't run by bean counters. I think education was better for it.

  5. I agree with MorningAJ 'Teachers were different back then' it is so true. I'm a very respectful person, have one child at work, and the other almost through the school system, and mostly its been a good experience. However, as the years rolled on, things have changed so much its unreal!

    I consider that they went to a 'good' primary, and a 'very good' secondary school, however, the teaching seemed to get diluted as we went on in the system. As parents, we supported our children as much as we could, as well as being active within the school too, but the system was making it very difficult for the teachers to teach them. Reporting systems came and went, and teachers were forever filling out forms on this, that and the other. An older teacher, so distressed, confided to me that she was looking for an escape route! She simply couldn't take any more madness from the management, or disgruntled parents. Clearly overwhelmed, and being honest that she wasn't teaching, merely pushing paper all day. She quit her job because she felt 'her' children were suffering.

    Then came a huge glut of young teachers, who had not got jobs in their chosen professions, and suddenly realising that degree they took in media, geography, and graphic comics wasn't going to cut it in the real world. So they went back to University and got a teaching certificate! Who could blame them, from the outside, 14 weeks holiday and a half decent salary looked very attractive.

    It wasn't until they got into it, and realised, actually its VERY hard work, and then they either went off with stress, leaving our children high and dry at the most crucial times! Or left fleeing into industry as fast as their legs could carry them. Or worse, they stayed, and our poor children were left with people who didn't really want to teach in the first place.

    Good teachers are like gold dust! They should have far more respect than what they get, but the system they are now working within must change, and the next government needs to address the matter quickly.

    I'm appalled teachers are facing abuse on Twitter and Facebook and the likes, its totally unacceptable, but I fear this sort of abuse is epidemic.

  6. you can chuckle now, but we've all had mortifying moments not meant to be recorded. Teachers deserve
    more money and respect. Phones are not meant for the classroom

  7. You must be kidding me, even parents get involved. A new age, that's for sure. I know you must have been a great teacher, I learn so much from just reading your blog.

  8. My sister has been subject to Facebook abuse. Apparently it started as a joke. You have no idea the distress and hurt it caused her. She is an amazing and truly vocational teacher who just happened to be the butt of some mindless kids' joke, but it was awful for her. I loved your stories, Ros and I can well visualise the aero-dynamics class! I am a teacher too, but luckily of university students (but we still get our share, I promise), so are both my daughters. One is a secondary school teacher and I am just in awe of her skill at getting those kids inspired by English literature. Talk about respect. I have it for her!

  9. Yes, I saw one of those sayings on Facebook the other day.' Dirty laundry belongs here' with an arrow pointing to the linen basket. 'Not on Facebook' Isn't that the truth. Teachers are shown little or no respect and I for one believe government attitudes have led the way in this. At least in the US. I will now step off my soapbox long enough to say after 8 years of being totally in the dark when it came to Maths, a teacher appeared and low and behold the light bulb shone. The thought of her always brings a smile to my face.

  10. Yes - the children and their parents should sort it out face to face, not Facebook to Facebook. I had many parent/teacher moments in the school careers of my four kids, and although it was sometimes the teachers at fault, that fact wasn't broadcast to the nation.

  11. I hate to say this, but wait until Mr Gove's ''untrained'' teachers hit the are merciless.... yes, like you Ros I taught, and had those 'umm....' moments. And I know that there were pupils who just didn't like me... it's life. If there'd been FB etc I'm sure I'd have been targetted. Glad I'm no longer in the profession - that I dearly loved!!

  12. There are a lot of moments I wouldn't want on YouTube! haha! I salute all our teachers! Cheers to you Rosalind. :)


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