There was a real Christmassy feel to the last day of term, the snow had begun to fall, the decorations were up and the classroom was freezing cold. The heating had broken down overnight which meant teaching to kids sat in their hats, coats and scarves. I’ve never explained the difference between odd and even numbers while doing star jumps, but it should have at least made it memorable for them.
By mid-morning I had the kind of brain freeze you normally only get after a giant tub of ice cream. I tried to name Father Christmas’ reindeers and ended up naming the seven dwarfs along with a couple of the Ten Commandments. Mistake number 2 arrived after I’d adopted my sensible voice “we are letting you out to play, you may build snowmen and throw snowballs but I don’t want to see anyone stuffing snow down someone’s backs, sticking it down the backs of trousers…” I could see their eyes widening “you’re giving them ideas!” I suddenly thought. It was all too late though.
I received a lovely leaving card from the class. It contained enough smudged glue and glitter so that once I’d finished with it I looked like I’d come back in time from the 1970’s. Each child had drawn and labelled a picture of themselves, with the exception of an anonymous picture scrawled into a corner. It was the stuff of nightmares in felt tip, a black-eyed figure with outstretched spiky fingers. It reminded me of the poster child for the ‘E-Safety’ campaign that haunts a picture outside our classroom; the eyes follow you down the corridor.
My last lesson, in a now thankfully tepid classroom, was religious education. I asked the children if any of them preferred to give presents than receive them. The result was entirely predictable; it did at least reveal who drew the macabre self-portrait as he was the only kid with his hand in the air.
I asked the children if they had any questions or comments. Mistake number 3, I should have said “any questions or comments about the task’ otherwise you get, as I did, “I like to shrug when I dance” “my Dad’s name is Paul” and “is it Christmas yet?”. The only comment with any relation to the lesson was “we should write our name at the top of the sheet and not someone else’s”. My resolve broke and a hint of sarcasm surfaced “yes, good point, please write your name at the top of the sheet”.
We sat through an interminable final assembly with only the occasional flicker of humour. The child who won the award for ‘healthiest lunchbox’ was off sick. The nativity tale featured so much ill-treatment of the baby Jesus I’m surprised social services didn’t intervene. I took the opportunity to head to the toilet where I spotted my first grey nasal hair. I don’t know what my nose has to be so stressed about, but this has certainly been a demanding year for me. I’ve never needed a better excuse to relax over Christmas and enjoy roasting my nuts by the fire (I brought that joke back with me from the 1970’s).