Tag Archives: passwords

The problem with being a maths teacher, is that… you’re a maths teacher

I’ve got to admit, I’m considering a new career. Not because I’m bored of teaching maths, but because I could do with the PR boost.

Not everybody loves maths teachers. I get it. We stand lonely in the corner at parties with an empty glass, longing for somebody to start an interesting conversation but it never seems to get past the career choice. I wish I could just say “I’m a programmer” or “I work in a warehouse” and then the conversation just drifts onto other things and nobody is interested in how you “deal with the teenagers” or they lean into you with gin breath and tell you how they are simply ravenous for a Sudoku challenge. I don’t think that counts as flirting, does it?

Picture of some sad teachers with tinsel pretending to have a good time at an office party

I could start again. Professionally I mean. In my youth I worked in purchasing administration and I was quite nifty with raising the purchase orders and getting the best price. I got offered a job as a trainee IT Support at Sharp in 2001, but I opted to move to Suffolk and start my teaching career. I mean, it felt like the exciting option at the time, but it started me on what now feels like the single track of working in education. Perhaps in an alternative universe I’m an IT tech, swapping RJ45’s around on the server, wondering if I’d have been better off moving to Suffolk and selling my soul to City College Norwich (A-Haaaaa!).

I know there’s a lot of transferable skills within teaching (I won’t bore you) but when you see a CV and you see “maths teacher” the memories of a tweed jacket and being hit on the head with a flying board rubber come flooding back; how frustrating would it be to have an employee in the habit of answering a question with a question? I might turn up with a red Biro and start correcting your emails for SPaG and who in the world would want to work with that?

The problem is, I do really want to stay in the classroom. At the chalk face. It’s the only thing that keeps me interested. Does that happen with other careers? Do electricians get promoted to Manager and yearn to be back in somebody’s cellar, re-wiring the circuit breaker? Does Richard Hammond pine for the days he used to make the tea at the local radio station?

The problem is, if you like the classroom stuff; you’re good at the classroom interactions; the students enjoy your classes and you get good results year upon year. Who wants to move good teachers out of the classroom? Your manager certainly doesn’t. Reliable maths teacher are difficult to replace already. But far beyond the staffing and recruitment crisis that seems to be going on right now, what incentive is there for anybody to move up in the ranks in education? The further one goes up the pay scale, the less teaching and contact you have with students. And that’s fine if you don’t enjoy the teaching part, but… what if you do? What’s the incentive to “develop” upwards?

Realistically, the only reason anybody would wants to take on FE manager responsibilities is the opportunity to move up the pay scale. Otherwise, there’s not really much else, is there? The workload can be more intensive than teaching and it’s more difficult to prioritise. Many days you’ll work 12 hours, sometimes more than 5 days a week (I curse ye, Open Days!) and not really seeing your family or friends before the end of November. Even at this time of year, when the pressure is easing off a little with the teaching workload, it’s still full-speed ahead getting students finished and claimed before the deadlines, and then timetabling, and then that’s the summer months wiped out as well.

This is the cue for all the party-goers to chime in with “ah but you get the summer holidays, I bet that’s lovely! I wish I got 8 weeks off work”. No, no. We really don’t. We get 2 weeks to get that GP appointment that has been needed since November, book the dental hygienist for a bloody mouthful followed by a good telling off and a promise to stop grinding; purchase new work clothes for the new term online, clean under the fridge, mow the lawn, move house, get a new job, you know, the normal stuff. I seem to get a short sit down just in time for the neighbour’s grubby faced tweenagers to start screaming at each other on the trampoline and then it’s GCSE results day. Again.

This year I really have got some things to do in my “holiday”, as mentioned above I am hoping to get a new job up north and alongside that comes the difficulty of relocating with a houseful of useless gubbins that we bought in the COVID-19 lockdowns. Here’s a functional maths spatial challenge for you. How do you fit a treadmill, a garden patio set, a gazebo, an arcade machine, 2 scooters, a motorbike, 4 IKEA shelving units, a freezer, a bed, a CUDDLY TOY!!!!, a weights rack, 4 metric tonnes of Warhammer 40K figurines, a holiday to Malta and a projector screen into a single Luton van?

The answer? Nothing short of a miracle. I have no idea how we’re going to do it in one trip. Possibly we won’t.

“I passed the test. I will diminish, and go into the NORTH, and remain Galadriel.”


The never ending issue with passwords and running away north in pursuit of…?

I do have an issue with passwords and it is showing.

My WordPress posts are so infrequently published, and the main reason is that I am simply very good at setting strong passwords. If only I were worse (better?).

On one of my other posts some years ago, I was moaning because my website had been hacked and redirected to a website that was selling Gucci handbags. I steadfastly committed to setting extremely strong passwords for all my accounts from now on, safe in the knowledge that this would mean that I would never again have the ability to log in and post on my own website. I refuse to use a password manager. I mean, how can that be as secure as my own brain?

My current security gauntlet consists of 17 password attempts, 4 password reset emails, three two step verification text messages, 12 CAPTCHA tasks to establish whether I’m human (at this point I’m not sure myself) and a Notepad file containing several strings of non-alphabetical characters, none of which work ever again.

I reset several passwords today to get me to here, writing this post. And I already don’t know what those passwords were. So I won’t be able to log in again for some time, until I can again be bothered to contact and raise a ticket for another password reset, at which point the whole process will begin again. Maybe Easter 2024?

Anyway – I’m moving soon. I am leaving London, I’m committed, I’m moving in a VERY northerly direction, and with any luck we’ll get to Scotland. Where, I don’t know yet, but it’s going to be colder, wetter, more hilly, less metropolitan and with soft water. I can’t wait for that last bit.

Edit: Turns out my post-16 PGCE means I’m only eligible to be registered with the GTCS as a college lecturer, and there ain’t any maths lecturer jobs that I can find, so I’ve had to put my dreams of vegan haggis and bracing cold on hold for a wee while while I get qualified to teach secondary in a country that actually upholds teaching standards. Bah!

Write down your blinking password, Zoe.

Well, I feel like a duck at the moment, my flippers are paddling away manically but I’m all calm on top.  Well, perhaps more like an inverted duck.  Panicking.

Just an update to say that I haven’t updated the site for a long time due to being hacked a while back.  The hackers redirected my WordPress page to that of a shop for Gucci handbags.  I was only alerted to this development by my mother, who inexplicably went to my website to find out how to contact me.  As a result of the hacking I changed my login and password to make them much more secure from hackers; which inevitably led to the site being totally secure from 100% of potential users, including myself.  It’s taken until now to work out how to reset my WordPress password, and I’m still not sure that it’s totally sorted yet – time will tell!

Of course my last post was about Gove deciding not to mess with the GCSEs – that couldn’t be MORE out of date than it is now; firstly we all know that the GCSEs ARE going to be thoroughly messed with (a good thing?  answers on a postcard please) and *NEWSFLASH* Gove is out on his ear. The latter point may or may not be a good thing: Ben Goldacre commented on Twitter that although Gove was maligned for his radical reforms, he was very much in favour of RCTs in research within education.  I wonder if the new Education secretary will be quite so keen? Let’s wait and see.

In other news, I’ve recently quit my bottom-of-the-rung lecturer position in calm, tranquil Hampshire to take up a crazy-arse Curriculum Manager post in a large London FE college. The post is a new one within the college (an amalgamation of two related curriculum areas) and I’m of the opinion that it’s the right combination.  I should be well placed within the college to raise the profile of both Maths and English within the vocational areas (rather than responsibility for discrete Maths or English departments).  The college has a brand spanking new principal lined up, and there’s room for development in many areas.  It seems I’m going to be quite busy in the coming months.

So, I moved to Fulham last week, and I’m just settling in.  I’ve been warned off living in London plenty of times (oh the crime, oh the landlords, oh the tube, oh the cost of living) but I think I’ve fallen on my feet.  I’ve found a nice area to live, the cat’s come with me and is settling in nicely, and my landlord appears to be a scrupulous and straight-up fellow.  What could possibly go wrong?

If I manage to lock myself out of my WordPress account again, at least this post should suggest a reason why it’s not been updated in a while.

There’s several options as to my lack of updates:

1) I’m dead from knife crime

2) I’m overworked and/or underpaid

4) I’m being pursued by loan sharks

5) I’m particularly good at setting up awesome unhackable passwords

6) I’m very bad at writing down passwords

7) I’m having too much fun living it up and partying in the West End.*

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

*This is my imaginary world