Monthly Archives: October 2011

Remember to remember

Using multiples of different coloured powders, painstakingly glued into place, this was an enchanting piece of sacred Rangoli art…at least it was until I accidentally kicked it over. I never did find out how long it took the children to create the work for the school’s Diwhali competition but I felt sick. All that remained were the powders on my size 9 shoe. Ironically I could have entered the shoe into the competition and won.

To say sorry I covered the walls of my classroom with their hastily redone Rangoli artwork. I didn’t realise that the swastika features so heavily in Hindu art. Anyone glancing into my classroom would think I was attempting a Third Wave experiment.

I managed to avoid any further wrath from any Hindu God and my class, yet I still met enough problems to keep me on my not-very-twinkle toes. One child urinated on the carpet (an accident? a dirty protest?), another admitted to cheating and this after I’d tried to laud him as a genius to his parents. Thankfully for him and me, his parents didn’t speak any English.

If parents evening taught me one thing it’s that I have the ‘gift of the gab’. Despite the term being only six weeks old,  I spent five and a half hours with the parents gassing about levels and plans for each term, when all they probably wanted to know is “is she doing ok?” or “has he stopped pissing on the carpet?” A sentence in one child’s book read ‘mum hits everyone because she is rude’. Thankfully, only Dad showed up.

So half-term cameth (is that a word? it is now) and it’s been about trying to deal with and learn from these myriad of moments. I’m a rookie pretending to the class that I’m not and it’s energy zapping. But as one friend wisely said to me, you can only ever be ‘perfectly imperfect’.


These are some of the genuine search terms people have used, only to inexplicably end up at my blog (along with some sardonic comments in red).

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“need the toilet” + “too late” I think we’ve met.

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Grounded

A week before the end of term and I cut a strange shape. I’ve been buying rewards for the children who’ve reached the top of the reward ladder and tissues to ward off the kids germs. Struggling out of Poundland with my goods, I resemble a crap toy enthusiast with too much time on his hands. I head home to work on my IEP’s, APP, ECM, AFL, CPD when I long to spend my weekends doing sweet FA.

We spent a wet Tuesday morning burying a fake dinosaur bone on the school grounds. It was for a writing exercise and despite our best efforts the most perceptive spotted the words ‘Made in China’ written on it. Thankfully most of the class bought enthusiastically into the scam.

To encourage the class, the teacher joins in with the writing exercise. 15 minutes in and my wrist began to ache. “Is your hand hurting?” asked one of the children. “Yes it’s from all the digging this morning…” I said before realising my mistake. 30 pairs of eyes looked up, registered their feelings of deceit and returned solemnly to their work.

They still managed to produce some consistently good stuff, with the exception of one child. His story went off into the weirdest of tangents, including a visit to the peehole (which I assumed was slang for toilet, till I realised he meant PE Hall). This was the same child who has started putting the superlative ‘Super’ before his name on written work. Undermining this are two reasons 1) super is spelt incorrectly 2) he was once absent from school for “choking on part of a trampoline”. For his ‘wish’ I was going to suggest not dropping acid before writing.

My first observation almost didn’t happen. I placed a chair for my observer by the carpet and then forgot to warn the children it was there. Two of the most enthusiastic of children decided to speed walk into class and one went flying. My observer was on her way and I had a child writing around on the carpet, with a black eye and making a noise reminiscent of a startled giraffe.

Never before have I been so grateful for a teaching assistant’s help. By the time the observer arrived it was almost as if nothing had occurred. The only clues were the slight tremors in my hands and a suddenly very quiet class who were wondering which one of them I was going to inadvertently harm next.

The children’s revenge arrived during assembly. We were watching the Year 6 children perform a show based on Victorian waifs and strays. One of my class was holding and rubbing a piece of material, long enough for me to decide to take it off him. What I didn’t realise was that he had managed to accumulate just enough static electricity so that when I grabbed it my hand snapped backwards. Kids are perceptive to stuff like this and I garnered even bigger laughs than the name Dr Barnado was getting. I did at least use the incident for a science lesson.

The next best excuse for absence from school, followed a vist from a bird show.  It arrived a clear two days after we each had our photograph taken with one of the birds.

The excuse didn’t even come from one of the children who discovered to their cost that birds have a high fibre diet. It was from a parent who had taken their children to the hospital after noticing a rash. The theory put forward was that it had resulted from contact with a bird.

I amused myself with the idea that the suggestion had been made by the doctor and not the hysterical parent. “Well Mrs Smith we’ve run a series of medical checks on your daughter and I haven’t seen anything like this in all my years of professional experience…now this is a long shot but…your child hasn’t had a barn owl placed on her shoulder in the last 48 hours has she? Really? My god, it’s what I feared”.

The Rocket

The disappointment was palpable. I’d asked the children who they thought our famous visitor to the school might be. “Lady Gaga?” “Jessie J?” “Balloon Man(?)” “Michael Jackson?” (I didn’t have the heart to break the news). Some old bloke in a nappy was not on their hotly anticipated list. The illusion was further dampened by the fact our ‘Gandhi-o-gram’ needed written prompts just to remember his own full name.

I had my first ‘I want my mummy’ moment. I stress one of the children said it, not me. I sometimes forget how young some of them are. The reminders often come in the form of their own naiveté. In what must be a World Record for the quickest ‘Show and Tell’, one child thought it proper to pull from his pocket two shards of glass. No child so much as smirked during a lesson on adjectives when a girl suggested “the juggler has big fat balls!” Nor did anyone question the girl who proudly declared that she has no allergies because she’s a Christian.

We attended a writing course, discovering that adults have a vocabulary of 30,000 to 50, 000 words. Me learn lots. How much of a role model I am elsewhere to the kids is in question after they spied me with a school meal piled high with chips. This was just moments after I’d taught them a lesson on the importance of a balanced diet.

The previous class teacher had attended the writing course and introduced me to her newborn baby. I stared politely at her child, with a permanently fixed grin, for a good 15 minutes. She informed me about infant-related phenomena, including the need to ‘swap breasts’, before the baby puked and she had to go.

I also attended a Child Protection course, although it did not; as I’d hoped teach me anything about protecting myself from kids. This would have been mighty handy as I separated two wildly fighting children on what was supposed to be ‘World Peace Day’.

The governors were up next for a get together. Despite not knowing any of their names, I was firmly advised not refer to any of them as ‘Guv’. They were a cordial bunch though, as were the parents who arrived later and to whom I had to deliver a presentation.

All was going well, until I tried to ad-lib. On the subject of educational visits I was recommending all the usual places, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum “and” I continued “we’ve been learning about Mary Seacole who is buried close to our school so you might want to visit her grave this weekend…” This was followed by an interruption by the secretary. “I have a list of your allergies” she breathlessly said, passing me a piece of paper. They were the children’s allergies, not my own, but I could feel the parents beginning to formulate thoughts on just who was teaching their children.

The week ended with my first year-group assembly. The chasm between the gift and talented and lower ability children was clear from the certificates being handed out. “Well done to child A for discovering this week in Science that particles can travel faster than light and to child B for not eating the Play-Doh”.

A Year 6 child was given a certificate for ‘entertaining old age pensioners’ as part of World Peace Day. Despite no formal training, he had played a piano that was there and sang to them. The teacher present, described it to me as the single, funniest thing he had ever seen. The residents had unanimously disagreed.