I love teaching. It’s a second career, I used to be in communications. After my daughter was born, I went back to university. Despite the breastfeeding, lesson planning, and the assignments I kept my sanity and got a teaching qualification.
I decided to be a supply teacher so that I could remain in my region. I was a single mother, I needed a bit of support. Also I wanted to make sure that my daughter could see her family as much as she wished.
I had just finished a 4-month contract as a teacher in a lovely secondary school, and was skimming the job offers when I saw an amazing opportunity. A nearby vocational college needed a supply teacher in French, history and geography. I applied. The recruiter looked stressed out and warned me that it would be difficult, that there were characters among the staff, but I got the job.
A few days after I started, there was an incident. One of the students beat up his teacher with a claw bar. I tried to get to know more, but nobody would talk. The law of silence. Except that one teacher who told me that I was lucky, they got rid of the dangerous students during the first two months of the academic year.
But then I heard and saw too much. I was a cool teacher – kids wouldn’t stop disclosing to me.
Some kids were telling me how they had to leave mainstream school because of their health issues – I saw young ladies who had huge scars on their chest because they had undergone heart surgery. Some kids were reporting that they were badly treated on placement. Some were reporting bullying, sexually implicit verbal abuse. Several teachers went on sick leave. One was accused of something too bad to be written here.
I tried to help. I passed it on. Reported issues.
Then it went wrong.
A teacher was singing alt-right songs in the staff room. I couldn’t contain myself. I told him off. Later he did an assault attempt while the other members of staff all had the Kitty Genovese syndrome, abandoning me to my fate.
What that bully didn’t know is that I would stood up for myself. I went to the Senior management to report him. He managed to call sick before anything could be done. But then he stayed away from work for a long time. Other teachers testified against him later on. He still had allies in the place, rumours were being spread. I wasn’t feeling safe.
One month before the end of my contract, I left. But at least I left holding my head high. Never mind the money.