Monthly Archives: November 2011

The squeeze

‘The underpants are on the cow goes bong’ wrote one child. It was right though as we were learning nonsense verse. This was a child who often wrote guff so it was something he excelled in. It’s odd that when the same child was given a challenge to make up a sum for me to answer, he produced a problem that made splitting the atom seem like splitting peas.

My first strike day approaches and yet only half the staff are striking. This is surprising considering we are all NUT members. Even more demoralising was the head teacher reading out the names of us ‘blacklegs’. Originally I was going to do a peaceful John Lennon-esque protest from my bed but I feel sufficiently annoyed now to hit the streets.

My blacklegs will eventually be squeezing into a pair of tights for the staff pantomime to play ‘ballet dancer number 3’. This also came as a surprise as I’d asked to be the narrator. Are malevolent forces at work? Little do they know I actually studied ballet and graduated with a 2:2 (tutu geddit?).

Anyway, as ballet dancer number 3 I intend to give my character depth, so he is in fact an undercover cover with 24 hours to track down a serial killer (before having to hand in his gun and badge to the DA). A challenge considering I have a blink and you’ll miss it part.

This week I had the task of teaching my 7 year olds about drugs. As I’d missed a previous lesson I had to combine this with the dangers of alcohol. I asked a teaching assistant to take photos of the lesson. It was clear from reviewing the photos some digital manipulation would be necessary to create the illusion that all the class were facing the right way. This was evidence, if it was ever needed, that mixing drugs with alcohol doesn’t work.

A tearful teacher told me about a child in her class who was was leaving. This poor child has a back-story that even the most ardent of soap opera fans would consider dubious. I was among the teachers he had asked to have a goodbye photo with. My contribution to his happiness was the merest blip on the radar.

He had come up to me in the playground, complaining he was bored and had no friends. Sloping around us at the time was a boy from his class. “He can be your friend?” I suggested. “But we haven’t got a game to play!” he whined. “Child A” I said, pointing to one of them “get Child B!” They both ran off. Simple, but effective.

His teacher, an NQT like myself, showed me some forms which contained targets for her children such as “to use the toilet independently and not soil himself on the carpet”. It made my glue-glitter-vomit incident seem as incidental as the head teacher’s remark to me that I “apparently work here”. Maybe she is on to the fact that I’ve only pretended to have a religious epiphany so I can get some brief shut-eye when we bow our heads for prayer in assembly.

Her remark out of context seems harsh; it was more a comment on the fact that I am often a voice drowned out in the staff room. I’ve always preferred to be someone who listens and observes, otherwise you might miss nuggets of chatter like this one:

Teacher 1: I am getting sick of Herbert ignoring me!

Teacher 2: Herbert? The deaf one?

Teacher 1: oh is he deaf?

Something changed

As the old saying goes there is only one thing worse than glitter on glue on carpet and that’s vomit on glitter on glue on carpet. I had to deal with all four simultaneously after a hectic art lesson. As I scrubbed away on my knees my abiding thought was “for this I went to college?”

With the Christmas season approaching all teachers are aware of the ticking glitter, glue and puke time bomb. It was also anti-bullying week and one child embraced both events by providing an anti-bullying poster showing Father Christmas being beat up.

After our recent bird show, I gave out photos of the children at the show without realising I needed to ask for payment first. It was a simple enough mistake to make but now I’m paranoid the bird show people might be looking for revenge. I suspect that even as we speak they’re training up a flock of suicide bomber carrier pigeons to attack me when I least suspect it.

The same child who provided the picture of Father Christmas being battered, did at least bring in payment for the photo. The payment was later returned to me by the office though as the bank-note was forged. I now faced having to confront a parent over the use of counterfeit money.

As it turned out it was the child’s idea of a “joke”. Nonetheless I had to deliver a rocket to him about how this was as a criminal offence (the banknote was pathetically forged; even the Queen looked like she’d had a stroke). I managed to undermine my rant slightly by then turning and walking into a door, but I hope the point was made.

The children do amuse (one child described Mother Theresa as having a ‘fat arm’?), bemuse (another told me he was born with a donkey tail), impress (one child clapped an almost hernia inducing 123 times in a minute, as part of a maths challenge) and confuse (the autistic child said “I’m glad I’m not a vegetarian because I couldn’t go to church” – “body of Christ?” I guessed but no, it was the leather praying mats).

Remembrance Day will be remembered by me for desperately trying to halt a game of hide and seek for a two-minute silence and I also managed to misspell misspelled 30 times when correcting a spelling test. Despite all this I realise daily how lucky I am to have such a nice class. I’m even trying to ingratiate myself more with the staff by taking the role as narrator in the school Pantomime. Oh no you’re not!