Monthly Archives: January 2012

Apples and oranges

It’s pretty unpleasant watching children being so aggressively targeted, especially when under the façade of boosting children’s “academic achievement and character development” through the medium of yo-yos. “Always say No No to an overpriced Yo-yo!” would have been a more apt message.

The presenter stopped just short of saying “Do you want to be the only kid in the playground without a yoyo? Even if you can’t afford it, even if you’re parents refuse to give you the money, are you just going to give up like a loser would? Or are you going to whine and whine until they give in?”  She even halted me from filming the event. I do have some footage though, so if you hanker for a brief clip of a woman playing with her yo-yo, you know who to contact.

I’d arrived that morning armed with a screwdriver, gaffer tape and batteries. I wasn’t planning on an interrogation; it was to fix a bunch of floor turtles. Somehow I’d managed to get involved in one of the many clubs sprouting up around school.

Other clubs include a chess club in which several of the children make up the rules as they go along and a magic club that aptly disappeared after one session. Stories abound that several children were placed in a cupboard only to reappear in Addis Abbaba. The magician placated the parents by offering them two free tickets to his next show.

It was a usual week all in all, the space cadet declared to the class “if I look at the sun for too long it makes me sneeze”, a copy of the Lord of the Rings turned up in the gents toilets, so at least one of the staff is highly constipated and I had a phonics observation that if I could sum it in a sound it would be “hhhhmmmmnnnnnnuuuunnnnggggg”…then he arrived.

Mr Bonapart was an instant hit with the women, with his closely cropped hair (bald), wide smile (veneers) and diamond stud earring (premature midlife crisis). It began with the staff talking about him in hushed reverential tones like he was the second coming, within a week everyone everywhere were falling over themselves to gush about how wonderful he was.

He came in at the weekend to organise a display, drove one of the staff when her car broke down and formed a human bridge to allow children to escape from a capsized boat. Ok I made the last one up but for all I know it’s true.

Now I’m not the envious type, these are just observations of his irritating perfection and just as I was imagining ways of him being beheaded by my classroom guillotine, he wandered in asking to borrow a lead for his camera.

I may not light up a room every time I enter it. I may not be charming, smug and effusive. I may not have that gift of making you feel that you are the only person in the room when I talk to you (incidentally on this occasion I was, so it didn’t count). I may not even be able to converse easily with women about any subject they wish to share with me…but at least I know where the lead to my camera is! (It’s in the store cupboard, on top of the still knackered floor turtles and next to the Sneeze-safe toolkit).

He returned it really promptly. This is war.

Going home

In a period of uncertainty for so many people it’s only right I join the queue. I discovered the ‘job’ I have may in fact be only temporary. The previous class teacher turned up, with recently born babe in arms, to wander around and stake a claim to my/her classroom.

The odd thing was that the conversation was filtered through her baby, in a display that even the most liberal of people might describe as ‘passive aggressive’. “This is going to be mummy’s classroom again soon” she cooed repeatedly.

It’s always after the fact that you think of the funnies. I should have adopted the same tone and said to the baby “mummy’s a silly mummy; this is my classroom nowie wowie”. Maybe all future negotiations will have to be done through her bairn?

I wanted to speak to the Deputy Head teacher but rather burned my bridges with her unintentionally. She’d wafted into the staff room and said to me “Alright babes?” “A little over familiar” I thought, but what the heck. “Yeah good thanks” I replied. She shot me a filthy look and I realised she was on the phone. In retrospect it could have been worse; at least I stopped short of calling her “schnookie lumps”.

At least my kids fought my corner for me. During assembly the Head Teacher asked children to come forward and tell the school what their targets were for this term. “Targets?” I thought “what targets?” It was too late; the space cadet of my class had already shot up his arm. “I’m fucked” was my first thought. This could go either one of two ways and I leant more heavily on the side of him answering with something like “Thursday?”

Despite the fact I’m yet to teach my class the art of ‘blagging it’, he turned in a master class performance and even quoted me as being the “best teacher in the world”. I could have hugged him, but he has developed a deep mistrust of me since I explained to him what an ulcer was. Well, you try explaining how ulcers are formed to an 8-year-old without sending them into an abyss of fear.

We’re attempting to rehearse two assemblies simultaneously (a year group and class assembly). Our class assembly needs to get past the censors. It’s based on the relationship between water and faith and despite the aquatic theme it’s a perilously dry subject. I livened up the story of Noah’s Ark with Noah turning away one of the three little pigs, only for it to get the red pen treatment.

The class have gone wayward of late which I put down to post-holiday blues. The amount of change to the timetable leaves the days uncomfortably close to resembling the last week of the Christmas term. Their behaviour mirrors this.

So what better way to assert my authority, I hear you say, than to nearly blind a child? On this occasion it was unintentional (that’s a joke Mumsnet). Before lunch the kids receive a squirt from a pump actioned antiseptic hand soap tediously delivered by yours truly. On this occasion it somehow misfired and hit a poor child in the eye.

Thankfully he was ok, but it was the same child who I’d earlier told would be using a sand timer for his work. It was to encourage him to start his work within a minute, before the sand disappeared. As soon as the timer had been turned over though he’d suddenly gone into an apoplectic flurry of frantic activity. He was furiously scrawling lines across the page as if his life depended on it.

“What are you doing?” I asked. “Can’t talk! only got a minute!” he blurted out. He’d mistakenly thought I’d given him a minute to do everything. I could have blinded and given him a hernia in the space of a day. Explain that to the parents.