Do you know the feeling when your teacher says: “I have both good and a bad news for you, which news would you like to hear first?” Hearing this sentence is never a good thing and to me it’s a similar feeling to cold ice water running down my back.
Can you believe my surprise when I heard exactly these words over the speaker system, just as I was sitting comfortably and listening to my teacher explaining about a particularly interesting moment in history?
Typically, people want to hear the good news first. I guess our principal must have a sixth sense, since he anticipated this and didn’t even wait for an answer. So what are the good news, you ask?
Here’s what the principal said: “Every teacher in this school will participate in a protest march on Tuesday, so all students will have a day off.” This sounded too good to be true, right? A day off? Just like that? There must be some really bad news coming…. So I braced myself and waited….
But first here’s a short explanation of why the teachers are protesting. Apparently, the government wants to make a change to the Irish education system with regards to the Junior Certificate.
In future, assessments should have more weight and should influence the final result much more than they do today. The assessments should be reviewed and corrected by your subject matter teachers. Teachers are humans too (yes, really!) and the way they assess a paper or test is always influenced by personal views and values. Every teacher has a favourite and a least favourite student, even if they would never admit this openly. So I have to agree with the teachers that would be a change for the worse. I was looking forward to my free Tuesday and “Kudos” to the teachers for standing up for what’s right even if that means standing outside in the cold Irish weather for many hours….
But I still haven’t told you the bad news, which was soon revealed over the speaker system: The upcoming parent teacher meetings! As soon as the principal announced this, it got very quiet in the classroom. Every student was thinking about each time they forgot to do their homework or when they were late for school…. There was only one person in the room, who was still smiling and that was our history teacher. Clearly he was looking forward to telling the parents about our mistakes and shortcomings!
The parent-teacher meeting was supposed to start about 30 minutes after school hours (so at about 3:45 pm). As soon as the bell rang, all students went to the canteen to wait for their parents. In my case, because my parents can’t fly over to Dublin just for an afternoon, my host parents are coming to the parent-teacher meeting on their behalf. Many students took out their phones, probably to talk to their parents. Normally, this is not allowed but on this special occasion, the school has made an exception. Actually, there’s no worse place to take out your phone and the reason is the fact that it’s the one area in school that can be seen from almost all other rooms and offices. Since phones have bright and clearly visible displays, they can easily be spotted…. The principal has a clear and direct view of the canteen from his office window. His office is very close to the canteen and he often walks around the building looking for students that are disobeying the school rules. Because of this, I have dubbed the canteen as “the Lion’s Cave”.
We don’t normally have pictures of the inside of our school (Adamstown Community College) on the public website so I took it upon myself to educate my readers by taking many pictures. Here are some recent pictures that I took while I was waiting for Margaret.
In fact, while I was taking these pictures, I saw a lot of other parents arrive. So I started to get worried and called Margaret. I did not want to be late for the parent-teacher meetings! But she had not forgotten and told me that she would be there in a couple of minutes.
I needn’t have worried too much about the parent-teacher meetings. It’s quite different from the way these meetings are held in Switzerland. In Switzerland these meetings tend to occur more often and usually only between the head teacher and your parents. Here the meetings only happen once a year and instead of one teacher, you have to talk to all your teachers on the same day! So you get a lot more feedback and suggestions (both good and bad).
Every student receives a checklist. This is a list of every teacher you have to talk to during the event. The reason for the checklist is so that you don’t just talk to the ones were you know that they will provide a positive comment but also to the ones were you expect some criticism.
First you had to find your teachers. Some of them were sitting in the canteen area while others preferred to wait in the classroom. Because all of the students had to talk to all of the students, this meant that sometimes you had to wait a while because your teacher was already busy talking to someone else.
So what can I improve? All the teachers told me something I already know. I have to improve my handwriting! If I had lived during the time of World War II, my handwriting could have been used to code secret messages… But we live in peaceful times, so I should try to change my handwriting so that other people can read it too.
I hope that you will be back for more blog posts, which I promise will not be written by hand but on my trusty computer keyboard.