The scary thing about starting a new teaching job is THE MEETING WITH THE HEADMASTER. It is as inevitable as eggs frying when placed on a hot surface.
Not sure where I’m going with that image but it has something to do with me feeling like a cat on a hot tin roof when faced with authority. All jittery and agitated and unsure where to put my feet.
And it’s not just headmasters that give me the shakes. Also doctors who want to take my blood pressure, bank managers and hairdressers fingering my hair, looking at me in the mirror and going : “Mmmmmm………..”. Mmmmm, WHAT???
Ok. Let’s move along.
Back to THE MEETING WITH THE HEADMASTER. Getting this meeting right means:
1. Getting the “look” right. The “look” of a good teacher is friendly, approachable and dynamic, leaning towards the conservative. But capable of demanding respect and able to keep the peace. Think navy. And white. No cleavage. No naked upper arms. No stiletto’s. No extended eyeliner.
2. A firm handshake. Not break-the-pinky and not jelly fish. Balanced and controlled strength.
3. The correct facial expression. Open, friendly ( again ). Come to think about it, more of a I’m-friendly-now-because-I’m-meeting-you-the-headmaster-but-I-can-intimidate-the-pants-off-an-unruly-pupil-any-day-and-I-will kind of expression. No shaky lip with the smile. Heaven forbid.
4. Answering questions intelligently and also ( very important ) asking some. Intelligent questions. To show that you’re not desperate to please and have a mind of your own.
Now I ask you. Isn’t that one helluva tall order to ask of any human teacher?
So I’ve come up with a “mental imagery” technique. I imagine whoever is intimidating me at the age of 2. In diapers. Throwing a tantrum of note.
It works because it makes me smile and breathe.
So that I can look friendly-yet-demanding-of-respect-with-a-mind-of-my-own.