Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Twiddling thumbs

Whilst I am extremely happy at not having to teach dying languages to horrible, or even unhorrible English teens, the fickle world of EFL means, like so many on the poorly paid and tenuous EFL treadmill,  that I am forced every so often to take an obligatory extended unpaid holiday. It's great really apart from not being able to swan off to say the Caribbean, nice bits of Asia, or even France which is a mere 11 hour swim from my back garden. Yet, at the very nice school to which I am attached the paltry pennies do not roll in and the old staffers do not retire or die - some have been there since well before the turn of the century on nice (for EFL) contracts so they will not be heading off to the garden centre soon. People from another arguably more decent age of employment -  so why should they make way for an eager young upstart? I know I wouldn't.

So it is back to twiddling thumbs and finding imaginative ways of not going for a £6.50 an hour job that I am far too qualified to take on and conversely way too unqualified or experienced for.

Forklift truck driver, copy analyst (whatever that is), auditor, legal secretary, plumber and various others on offer at the local temp agency. None saying EFL teacher.

Picture the scene:

Over made-up, power-dressed, stiletto wielding temp agency hackette, biting curiously on the end of her pen as she takes 0.000025 of a second to size me up and realise that there is no finder's fee to be made from the badly smart-casually dressed epitome of a bored EFL teacher who has darkened the doorway and interrupted her coffee, anti-social media and gossip.

''Yes sir -  (may I call you Prentice - hmm,  that's one BA, two x MAs a plethora of certs and training...oooh a Certifcate of Kindness -  excellent now what else are you able to offer...? Oh, yes, er...the present perfect. ? OK, thanks so much for coming in, it's been so lovely to meet you, we'll most certainly be in touch....'

However, the local refugee club has got back in touch and offered me some voluntary teaching (we'll pay your fares) with those young kids who really do want to be here and to leave behind the Horrors of war and make a contribution to their new country that is holding its nose at them but political expediency and perhaps a smidgen of racism, won't allow them.

So the fickle finger of fate is luring me back to supply teaching which is a particular circle of hell into which I really do not wish to desperately descend despite the relatively reasonable rates.  It has happened before and although the money was good for teaching it is a form of prostitution too far at my age. The kids love it of course as it is yet another opportunity to give grief to someone, the micro-staffrooms offer no chance to mingle or break into cliques of overworked, whinging teachers drowning in management -  the supply teacher is ever the outsider until some desperate head offers you a contract as a bum in the seat to help him or her with the staffing problems brought about by the latest staff member to go on the sick. Sticking plaster is what you are but it can be OK taking it for what it is - glorified babysitting with, if you are very lucky, some lovely kids who are grateful for the sticking plaster and the possibility of being taught. Be too good you may be offered a longer-term contract and sucked into the vortex of targets, bollocks and bullshit that moved me on out of the state system and back into the less uptight and rigid and targeted-filled world of EFL where the money, security and opportunities are crap especially if you failed to get out when you were younger or faiedl to be the owner of the school raking in profits and paying disposable human resources a pittance. 

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