Following the C17 Journey: Ruby Grant

Voices - 20 March 2017

Participants of Cohort 2017 share their part of the journey on the Teach First NZ Programme. From the Summer Initial Intensive beginning November 2016 and right up to the end of 2018 when they complete their two years on the programme, we will hear from different participants to gain insights into their schools and communities.

Ruby Grant studied a Bachelor of Science at Victoria Universtiy of Wellington and is now living in Auckland teaching Mathematics at Onehunga High School. Hear her thoughts and about what she has learnt from her time as a teacher in her "Following the C17 Journey" blog entry.

Wising up
Ruby Grant

Every morning I bike to school. I start off in Grey Lynn; little villas, chilly morning air. I bike along Dominion Road, humming the song about Dominion Road and overtaking lines and lines of stationary cars at the turn off onto SH10. I hit the fringes of green Mt Roskill, and turn east towards Onehunga and Mangere, into the sun. Off to a job that, to be totally honest, I'm just not very good at. Or at least, not very good at yet.

To state the obvious (something I feel like I'm getting a lot better at since becoming a Maths teacher), having to interact with hundreds of shouty, little (actually - almost all of them are way bigger than me) humans every day is very exhausting. I never thought I would have to say "books out, pens out, head off the desk" this many times in my life, let alone in an hour. One teacher put it really straight to me on my first day, when I came in bemused at why an exhausted 13-year-old wasn't interested in my beautiful algebraic proof of something fascinating and obviously incredibly engaging; "Look", she said, "the kids are pretty much here to have a good time, so don't get too upset if they aren't queuing up for a PhD in Calculus".

But they are. Sort of. A few sweaty afternoons later we had an introductory parent-teacher night, and so many parents came! And more amazingly, so many students came! The little terror who had been absentmindedly ripping his homework paper into tiny shreds while gazing out the window just three hours before was now hanging behind his mum blushing and murmuring that he actually quite liked Maths.

So why teaching? This is something I'm still trying to figure out.

Another evening, while watching a completely unrelated Fringe show about something to do with queer politics and how we don't care about bougie gay marriage anyway, I realised why I am teaching. It's vague and unformed, possibly uninformed; but it's because of this:

I was walking through a corridor with another couple of teachers and one of my kids yelled out from a doorway at us "Miss! Am I Dying?!"

"What? Why do you think you're dying Paul?"

Paul smirked and motioned at me and the two teachers behind me.

"Because it's all gone white, Miss!"

It's pretty weird that in a school where 95% of students are of Pasifika descent, most teachers are Pakeha. How will another Pakeha teacher help? This is the part I actually haven't quite figured out yet. But I will continue to be the person that believes that these young people have a right to be heard by everyone, not just me. And I'm not just saying that because they're really loud! Now, I just have to work out how to help this happen.

Ok, so you know that metaphor where an unintelligent person thinks they're wise, whereas a wise person knows enough to know how much they don't know? Well, I definitely am starting to realise how much I don't know about being a teacher. So, possibly, I'll wise up.


Read the previous blog for 'Following the C17 Journey' as told by Waikaraka Ruwhiu-Toms here.