I’m studying a Masters of Teaching this year. At the moment, I’m on placement, so I’ve been reflecting a lot on what I’ve been reading, teachers I’ve had in the past, and what kind of person I want to be when I’m qualified for this day job. (Don’t worry; I’m still writing.)
I was opining to someone the other day that there are basically four teachers you can be, and every one of them is a Hogwarts professor.
You can be the Snape – the classroom tyrant, who makes kids feel sick just thinking about your class. The Snape is never impressed. His classes may even be traumatic. He doesn’t have favourite students, only favourite targets. He seems to have chosen teaching solely because of the opportunities it offers him to bully children. Discipline is harsh and constant.
If wizard education reform wasn’t a hundred years behind the rest of the world, Molly and Arthur would be seeing this greasy bastard in court.
You can be the Sprout (or the Lupin) – the maternal or avuncular enthusiast, who teaches because the subject is their life’s passion. The Sprout and the Lupin make lessons fun, so they never have problems with classroom management. Discipline from the Sprout or Lupin is only meted out in the most extreme (read: life-threatening) cases, but comes in the form of a soft, solemn talk that will leave a kid truly repentant and reeling all week. (The Hagrid is essentially the Sprout without a lesson plan.)
You’ll never love her subject quite as much as she does, but she’s damn well going to try.
You can be the Trelawney – the utter pushover, whose class is a complete bludge. The Trelawney’s class is, at best, a chance to socialise and have fun; on average, a basic waste of time; and at worst, un-teaches you things that are actually valuable. Discipline is non-existent. Every Trelawney thinks she is a Sprout.
A typical Trelawney’s classroom.
Finally, there’s the McGonagall – the stern but fair leader. The McGonagall seems utterly terrifying the first time students meet her, but over time reveals a wise and kind interior. The McGonagall helps every student achieve their full potential, but she does not muck around. Her classes are for learning, not for fun. Discipline is even-handed, swift and always deserved.
You know she would have taught you four times more than any other teacher.
I would like to be the Sprout. I hope I am the Sprout. Maybe one day I can be the McGonagall, but right now I’m a bit too young and bouncy (not to say inexperienced) to carry it off. A kid called me the ‘living embodiment of enthusiasm’ last week, which ought to give you some idea of what I’m like.
Today’s poems are about my childhood experiences with a Snape and a McGonagall. The forms of poetry chosen are intended to reflect how it felt to be in their classrooms, with one adhering closely to a strict rhyme scheme and rhythm, and the other in free verse. As a kid, I was lucky enough to have the sense and the skills to stay on most teachers’ good sides, but now I wonder about what elevating me – sometimes publicly – did to those above whom I was being elevated. Obviously, pseudonyms have been used for everyone except me.
Thursday morning with Miss Castle.
Silence when Miss Castle speaks.
Traffic light cards on the window
showing we’ve been good this week.
Now it’s time to write our stories
with beginnings, middles, ends.
Grade Twos can’t leave for the toilet.
Grade Twos can’t sit near their friends.