More from my Teaching Years

As I said last week, year 2 as a teacher was much better for me. I cried less, learned how to be fierce and got involved in one of the school activities.

I taught English and Geography. The latter was to School Certificate classes. The girls had to memorize the main cities, rivers and physical features of various countries and then recall that information in an exam at the end of the year. It was not an exciting subject to teach. One of the English subjects was totally useless for anything students might do in life. The 6th form class had to earn grammar including how to parse a sentence. That meant identifying all the parts and how they fitted together. Thank goodness I had studied Latin in my youth to give me some grammar background, I had to work hard before each lesson to make sure I understood the next section of the curriculum. The girls and I became bored stiff very quickly but we struggled on as they had to write an exam paper in that subject.

The silence is golden rule was brought home to me one day when my class was reading Macbeth. Our room was directly above the principal’s  office. I had assigned parts to the girls but every now and then, a servant spoke. I covered these odd lines to avoid stopping the reading. That day I had a cold and a very hoarse voice so when I announced a new arrival, the next line was this. “The raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements.” (I looked it up) Well, the class and I burst out laughing. We stopped when the school secretary entered the room. She’d been sent by the principal to find out why we were making a noise! I thought then how sad it was that genuine laughter in a  classroom was against the rules.

I became involved in two school plays in the totally unsuitable position of costume designer.  My sewing skills were abysmal but I guess nobody else wanted the job. I remember trying to make costumes for SAINT JOAN and SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER. Both had very different requirements. I made a costume for Joan which was meant to look like chain mail and outfits for the various clergy who tried her. The elaborate dresses for girls in SHE STOOPS involved sewing yards of fabric together in an inexpert fashion to make those wide skirts. Guess the costumes passed muster from the seats in the school hall.At least nobody complained.

At the end of my second year, I became pregnant and much to my embarrassment had some episodes of morning sickness at school. I hadn’t disclosed my condition to anyone and after one of these bouts, the school secretary who also acted as the nurse told me there was a lot of this problem among the girls. She referred to a tummy bug but I thought Gee, I hope not.

I will continue with notes from my teaching career in the next weeks.