Fresh from the package, there’s nothing quite like the smell of foam magnetic letters in the morning. Nothing else in the world smells like that. They made my head swim to the extent that, during my observed lesson, I couldn’t quite trust if a child had just asked what the “floating thing” was.
I suggested he was referring to Hector the Dolphin, our internet-safety screensaver. No. Or could it have been the shimmering effect of the sun streaming through the blinds? No way. By this stage even my observer was starting to guess. Then I spied it.
I’ve been teaching the class all week to improve their descriptive skills but the best I can muster for this was a “weird tree-like grub floating on a single strand of cobweb”. Despite it being the size of a thumbnail, the kids freaked and before I could reach it, it had performed a limbo across me and was sashaying towards a gawping front row.
I had to be careful. To dive over the throng to grab it, could involve me hitting the wall and we’ve already been warned about the ‘contained asbestos’ within them. As teachers we’ve sworn an oath that we stay in touch for at least 25 years. This is enough time to know if anyone of us has inhaled a single fibre of it and died. The resulting survivors can then sue.
Instead I remained calm and just waited for it to float towards me. It took its time, performing a mid-swing pirouette as if determined to finish with a show stopper. This wasn’t the magnetic letters, this really happened.
The whole incident thankfully escaped the attentions of the parents that evening. Most of the children were still in too catatonic a state to mention it. Instead one parent was determined to tell me just how intelligent his son was.
As we talked, the child asked if he could collect a painting he had finished that afternoon. Next to us lay three unnamed paintings, each remarkably different to the next. The child slowly studied each in order, scratching his head and deliberating carefully. After five minutes he gave up. The father just looked at his shoes.
What alleviates the stress of parent’s evening are the nickname’s you discover the children have. It’s fun watching the kids squirm in their chairs as the mother remarks “I say to him, finish your homework boo-boo!”, or a frustrated father groans “please listen to your teacher Princess Dimples!” Odd choice of name for a boy, I thought.
Even though the morning had taught me to expect the unexpected, I was still monetarily surprised when a parent asked how I was. Truth be told, I was feeling tired and sick, but not sick and tired and there is an important distinction between the two. I just need to step off the teaching treadmill and try to restore some order in the work-life balance continuum.
To close, some more authentic search terms people have used to eventually reach my ponderings (along with some of my mordant comments in red).
chocolate coloured bulldogs (get ‘em while they’re hot they’re luvly!)
can you teach an alien to use a yoyo (check first they have opposable thumbs)
primary teaching im a man (yeah you da man!)
what tone of voices should i read the three little pigs for a pgce interview? (growly for wolf, squeaky for pigs)
school teacher in custard tights story (I was young and needed the money)
I’m halfway through my first year of teaching. Happy Half!