Back in my innocent school days, we used to sometimes play jokes on our teachers.
They were – at least in years 7 and 8 – from the jolly hockey sticks school of high jinks, where we swapped a classful of students with one across the hall, or spent the whole lesson looking slightly to the right of a teacher’s face.
Once - daringly - we even replaced white chalk with something else small and white that was in plentiful supply at a girls’ school. Sigh - I guess whiteboard markers have put an end to that particular hilarity.
As we got older, though, the classroom antics got darker.
I remember with shame one day in year 11, when our class made a new teacher – in her very first job out of uni – burst into tears. I won’t name her (because you never know who’s reading) but I do indeed remember her name, and her swollen pink eyes.
I also remember the horror I felt as a bystander, not just at the triumph of the few students intent on tormenting her, but at the realisation that teachers were indeed human beings with insecurities and fears, like me, who could be made to cry by the mean girls.
It turned out that I’ve ended up having quite a bit to do with high school teachers. Dear reader, I married one. Subsequently, many of our friends are teachers. Some of my extended family are teachers.
So I’ve seen the other side of the classroom, at least vicariously, and it doesn’t look like much fun.
When most of us have our buttons pushed by teenagers, we at least experience it behind closed doors, at the hands of our own flesh and blood. Teachers have to cope with it in front of a classroom of other teenagers, whose sympathies most often lie against them.
Not that I’m excusing poor behaviour from teachers – they’re supposed to be professional, after all, and I’ve come across some tales out of school that are practically criminal (well, as we know, some abusive teachers are criminals).
But most of them are just ordinary people, tasked with a hard job that most of us couldn’t do. I salute them – no jokes.