I remember one particular student who I had in my class and home group who had a really rough home life.
One day after this student had a flare-up in class, I sat down with him and had a good chat to him about what he wanted to do and why he behaved the way he did. And I really felt like I’d made a really great breakthrough.
Then the next day, the student came to school and just flipped over tables in home group and was straight back to his old behaviour.
I had support with me at school all the time through my mentor teacher, as well as a Teaching Leadership Advisor from the program who would come in to see me.
I went to my mentor teacher for advice and said, “I thought I’d finally got through to him,” and I was really devastated.
He was really good about it – and explained how the student wasn’t rebelling against me personally. It’s just a cycle – and you have to be resilient.
I’m still friends with my mentor teacher. He was really good at keeping me on the straight and narrow. Reminding me why I was doing what I was doing, but also, giving me permission to be let down by it all. Permission to go through the emotional roller coaster that teaching is.
And that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day – being resilient to this time, and the next time, and the time after that. And eventually, you do get through to a lot of them.
I had some great experiences too, like teaching an Iraqi student who spent seven years in detention centres, and he’d come out in Year 9. He only had Years 10 and 11 to prepare him for Year 12.
He wanted to be an engineer. And so I taught him physics. When it was the end of the school year, they had their VCE exams, and he came running up to me when I was just walking down the corridor, in tears – saying he’d passed physics!
I had tears welling in my eyes because I could see he was saying thank you.
And then he said, “I want to be an engineer like you – I wouldn’t have got through physics without you.”