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Trying to write accurate English teacher characters

Discussion in 'English' started by AuthorNathan, Aug 10, 2020.

  1. AuthorNathan

    AuthorNathan New commenter

    Hi all, hoping someone can help me. I am writing a time travel novel and the two main characters are English teachers. Can someone please answer a few questions for me?

    1. I have seen the books on the current reading list, were these the same for the whole of 2015 on?

    2. Why would one teacher teach their class a book from a particular category and a different teacher at the same school teach a different book from the same category? Personal preference?

    3. Is it common to have taught the same book over and over or to teach a book despite knowing you don't like it?

    4. One character in my book travels in time through another teacher's stockroom, would he have a plausible excuse to use the other stockroom? What would he claim to keep in there?

    Hopefully these aren't too weird.

    Thanks in advance
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    If we're talking secondary school, how it works is the English department can teach whatever texts they like for key stage 3 (but according to the curriculum this must include pre-1914 and contemporary literature; prose, poetry and drama; at least 2 Shakespeare plays; world literature). There are certain books that have always/will always be popular, but the department can choose. You might find different classes studying different texts within the same year group, depending on the teachers, how many copies of the books they have, etc. Teaching new texts means the teachers have to read them, and plan new schemes of work and resources, which is time-consuming and therefore not always popular.

    For key stages 4 and 5, the exam boards (AQA, Edexcel, OCR, Eduqas) all offer text choices, in line with the requirements of the curriculum. The school would make their selection based on the students, and what might appeal to them. Some teachers may have a personal preference, so teach a different text to their colleagues - I haven't seen this much though, because it makes mock exams a challenge (you wouldn't be marking your own students' mocks, so it's a pain if the students have all studied different texts).

    Some texts are popular, or considered classics, so would be taught over and over. We read Of Mice and Men in the 90s when I was at school, and it's still taught. Some teachers know the texts so well, it's easier to teach them over and over.

    The new curriculum came into effect for English in 2015, so the GCSE and A-level choices haven't changed since then.

    I've never worked in a school where teachers had their own individual stock rooms or walk-in cupboards.
  3. Corvuscorax20

    Corvuscorax20 Senior commenter

    I used to have two cupboards, one was for science and one was for stationary, which all other staff used too. You went into the science cupboard from my lab, and into the stationary cupboard from the corridor outside.

    However, there was a door leading straight from the science cupboard into the stationary cupboard, and this was the fire exit from my room, into the science cupboard, through into the stationary cupboard and into the corridor.

    I checked access through the stationary cupboard myself, every single day before teaching. Other people checked regularly too.

    Sometimes the stationary cupboard was too full, or backing paper had been thrown in carelessly, and the emergency route was cluttered. It needed constant monitoring to be sure it was a safe, uncluttered, emergency exit. Other people regularly checked my science cupboard too.

    Would that help?

    But people don't tend to have their own private cupboards. A cupboard in some ones teaching room is likely to be communal anyway. The place to go for batteries for your smart board remote control, new exercise books for students who have finished theirs, staples, board marker refills, maybe where the department laptops are stored on charge? or where confidential information is kept, if it is lockable, unseen exam papers, information about classes etc
  4. Lidnod

    Lidnod Star commenter

    In the English block where I taught most of the classrooms had a stock cupboard. Each one was designated for a certain category of books, for example my cupboard was for Year 9 novels whereas next door was for Year 7 and the room occupant was responsible for maintaining the organisation of the stock, keeping the piles neat and sensibly organised, with less used stock on more out of the way shelves. Teachers would, therefore, collect and return books to the relevant stockroom, or cupboard. If one wanted to time travel through a cupboard it would make sense to carry a copy of a text, as an excuse to be there. A variety of excuses might make it less obvious: returning single copies, taking single copies to read in advance, taking a book to repair. However, one problem would be when the time traveller appears, since teachers tended to avoid interrupting other people’s lessons, instead using break times, lunch times, before and after school to collect/return books. I should point out, too, that there could be a cupboard in a corridor or department room.
    Stock is acquired over a period of time. So this year an English department might decide to buy a new set of novels for Year 7 to supplement the texts they already have in stock. Choosing what to read with a class is a question of preference but also what is available when other teachers are choosing too. We would negotiate; as an experienced teacher, I might let a less experienced colleague have their book of choice, leaving me with another book. One suits one’s choice of book to the class, of course.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2020

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