No man ever wants to hear the word ‘inadequate’. On this occasion it was my lesson they were talking about. As I’d entered the room for feedback, the Deputy Head had checked her lottery numbers. “I didn’t win” she groaned. If only her numbers had come up.
It was ironic because as she spoke it was if the National Lottery finger was appearing through the clouds and pointing at me. The finger alas was the middle one. “How would you have done the lesson differently?” she asked. I was stuck for words, still reeling from the fact that my lesson was so far wide of the mark.
I assumed I would at least receive a compliment sandwich. The first layer contains the positives, the filler the stuff to work on and the last layer some further platitudes. Compliment sandwich? Shit sandwich more like.
The lesson was nothing if not ambitious involving icing sugar, condensed milk and different food flavourings. At one point I heard one of the observers ask a child “What lesson are you in?” I pretended not to be listening, counting the seconds until she finally responded. One of the class caught my attention, in that time I’d poured three times the amount of required icing sugar.
Despite the inevitable sugar high the kids weren’t climbing the walls (although some did resemble entrants in a gurning competition) and learning did take place. Not enough learning though, according to my detractors.
Kids are perceptive. “Why are you walking sadly?” one of my children asked. She was smiling, pleased about her use of an adverb. I felt fairly worthless and assumed my usual playground duty role, that of a useful meeting point.
My security pass bears an old passport picture of me where I look as though I’m on the run. I sometimes negate any behavioural problems by asking my class if they want the nice me, or the picture on my pass. I wanted to get back to the ‘nice me’ and after a bout of better constructive criticism I felt suitably revived.
A child in my class told me how her sister had been rushed to hospital with a suspected heart problem. We said a class prayer and later she read a story she’d written. It was about her meeting an alien. The last line told how she’d taught her new friend the word ‘moon’ so when they saw it they could remember how much they miss each other. I bit my lip. Perspective well and truly regained.