**In the previous entry, we found our heroine (it's my blog, I can call myself that if I like, suck it) leaving the security of her hometown in Canada to try her hand at living in England. She's a little bit impulsive, rather shy and has never been anywhere in her life.**
The first year that I lived in London was completely and utterly hellacious. And amazing. Both.
I landed a job in what I assumed was a normal
inner-city school but which was later dubbed 'the worst school in England' by
the BBC. My whole life, I've seemed to have a way of finding the most
ridiculous and extreme situations, without even trying.
I'm not sure that I did any actual teaching
that year. It was more about learning riot control than anything else. I was
kicked, punched, spit at, had numerous chairs thrown at me and even a desk
once. One student actually tried to light me on fire during a lesson although I'm
pretty sure that he was at least half-kidding. And hey, if I accessorized my
sweater with a jaunty little scarf, you couldn't even see the scorch marks. That's
creative problem solving for you.
At some point that year, every window in the
school was broken, over and over and over again. During one of my free lessons, I
remember looking out of the window and seeing some students pull a car up to the
back entrance of the school and carry off a couple of TV sets. Standard.
One day, while I was trying to teach, an
older student wandered in and simply refused to leave my classroom. When I
tried to insist, he used his size to intimidate me and push me up against the white-board
where he growled and barked in my face, all while the class sat and looked on. When we tried to speak to his parents,
we realized that his father had been on trial for murder. No, really.
My first foray into teaching was, in a
word, extreme. If I'd been looking for adventure, I'd definitely found it. For
a shy, permanently anxious girl who'd spent most of her life in a village of
less than 1000 people, it was the most alien experience I could possibly have. Like being dropped into a Hellmouth where none of the 'normal' rules of life and behaviour seemed to make sense.
Despite the craziness of it all, I still
managed to finish out my year in that school before moving on. I refused to
quit halfway through, although that may have been down to dumb pride and
stubbornness more than any really positive qualities. I must have done
something right though as the school offered me a Head of Department position
if I stayed on, with only a single year of teaching experience behind me. Of
course, that was probably due to the fact that nobody else actually wanted the job.
It was at that crazy school in London that
I first began to realize just how much pressure I could withstand. I figured
out that there was a bit of Buffy in me after all. I wasn't the weak little
girl that I'd always assumed myself to be. No, I hadn't transformed into some
ass-kicking, wisecracking dynamo but my spine had a lot more Adamantium in it than I'd have guessed. (Yes, I'm mixing my superhero metaphors, deal with it.) The bottom line was that I could stand my ground and do what had
to be done.
It was one hell of a lesson but it came at
a high price.