Let me set the scene. Picture 33 four and five-year-olds in the one room. The vast majority of them are giddy. They are not used to sitting down for prolonged periods. They are all probably talking over each other. To me it sounds like utter hell. However, that the reality for Aidan’s Junior Infants teacher and Junior Infants teachers all over the country five days a week. And do you know what, the woman that teachers my fella deserves a medal. Or fifty bloody medals for that matter!
I was sitting down on the sofa the other night when I began to think about what she does every day and it suddenly dawned on me that teaching, particularly for Junior Infants teachers, is one hell of a tough job. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be. I don’t want to imagine it to be quite honest.
I only have two personal experiences of a Junior Infants teacher; the woman who taught me back in 1986 and the woman who is teaching Aidan right now. It actually happens to be the same woman and how she is not in a lunatic asylum by now is beyond me! Some of them can’t even wipe their own arses after doing their business for God’s sake!
I know she’s trained for the job and she has decades of experience but I struggle daily to keep tabs on two children so how the hell can she look after 33 on her own? Do you remember that time I had the morning from hell a few years back? It’s actually mind boggling how Junior Infants teachers do it. In playschools the class sizes are much much smaller and there has to be one adult to every eight children aged between three and six and here’s this poor woman responsible for 33 of them! That’s hardly fair now is it?
In saying that it doesn’t seem to faze her. She’s at the door every single weekday morning, done up to the nines with a smile on her face. From my distant memory she is firm but fair. By God she just has to be firm, with my fella anyway because I can only speak about him. He is as mad as a March hare, he doesn’t listen to anything I say, yet he seems to listen to her and every single thing she says is Gospel! I need to know this woman’s secret. Maybe she should start running parenting classes in the evenings!
So not only does she have to keep tabs on 33 of them she also has to teach them things. Like actually teach them. I know, I know the term teacher is a giveaway here but I’m astounded that she can actually do it! So far Aidan has learned lots of letters or sounds as they are these days, he can write said letters and read words with those letters in them. He can tell me that Fall is what the Yanks call Autumn and come to think about it he didn’t have a notion what Autumn even was before he went to school! He is now a whizz at colouring in between the lines, which he was way too impatient to do before this. He’d get two minutes in to colouring a picture, lose his train of thought and just scribble over the rest of it!
I have great memories of learning how to line dance in primary school. Do you remember the line dancing craze of the early ‘90s? Well the aforementioned teacher caught the bug and she as good as thought the whole school to throw shapes to Achy Breaky Heart! She obviously still loves to boogie because Aidan comes home with some great moves these days. She’s practical you see, she’s teaching them how to survive on dancefloors in the future, Billy Ray Cyrus style no doubt!
Now obviously she has to have a great system of discipline and she does. Aidan tells me that if any of the children misbehave they get a black card so they are on a warning. If they slip up again she reaches in to her back pocket for a yellow card and thereafter it’s red and you’re off to the principal’s office. I wonder if she has a whistle around her neck too? I wouldn’t blame her if she did!
It’s hardly surprising that Aidan has already received a yellow card. I’m not sure for what but I trust her 100 per cent! The cards are revoked the following day I think, there’s no need for the CCC, or the CCCC, or DRA or anything like that! Now I could be wrong, he could be getting one every day but he’s hardly likely to tell me that! He delights in telling me when other children are shown a yellow card but it’s hardly surprising that he’s not as forthcoming with the information when he is the offender.
So for all those moaners out there who think teachers don’t deserve to have their pay restored or that they have too many holidays just think about it. Think about it folks. 33 four and five year olds! Seriously, they should be getting more money and more holidays! And if you still think otherwise, put yourself in a room with 33 of them and see how you’d be feeling after five days of it? I suspect you’d be racing to the nearest pub for a stiff drink having pulled all your hair out between 9am and 2pm. I know I would be anyway. With one hand I’d be raising a glass to all Junior Infants teachers and I’d have the phone in the other ringing the Vatican calling for them all to be canonised. Because saints are exactly what they are!