Monthly Archives: September 2012

One of us

The temperature had dropped, the jumper was on but the gloves were off. The school looked for the person who’d allowed 500 timetables badges to be printed off which included an incorrect answer.

I searched in vain too to find the child who’d glued bitten off fingernails onto a desk and another who wrote ‘bitch monster’ onto the wall. My phonics group are looking at the ‘tch’ sound this week and it was spelt correctly, so this narrows it down slightly.

With my blood pressure rising, I tested the blood pressure of a child for a Science lesson. Occasionally I use what I call ‘the lollypop sticks of fate’ to choose a random person. The lollypop sticks chose the one morbidly obese child and I found myself lying to save her the shame of a perilously low score.

I don’t expect to be believed about what happened next in the gents toilets. A colleague, with a streaming cold, mentioned that he’d forgotten to take any tissues that morning. As he reached for the roll he remarked “I’ve been wanting to blow it for ages”. The Deputy Head teacher strolled in at this point and I may as well have been greased up with a bog brush singing ‘The French Mistake’.

The autistic child in my class likes to play with letters and is sending me a series of coded messages. So far he’s made ‘mothercare’ ‘sit ups’ and ‘Mr Bean’. Perhaps this was all a subliminal warning that he would sneeze, fart and then shit himself during assembly.

The assembly topic was ‘Black History Month’ and a child was delivering Martin Luther King’s emotive speech, when it happened. I too was short of tissues, but judged him not by the pitiful look on his face but by the need to get him out of the fire exit before humiliation kicked in. In our own separate ways we both proved that boys can multi-task.

The accumulation of crap continued. Each Inset or meeting leaves me with more useless information. Unless I’m ever asked ‘What is the provisional timetable for the release question level analysis optional test progress’ in a pub quiz, it’s not worth knowing. The Head Teacher showed a short clip on this subject and remarked afterwards how “(Name of teacher) looks sceptical” and “(Name of teacher) looks perplexed”. I thought I was next. “Tim looks as if he doesn’t give a toss either way”.

The finest way to end the day involved being chased around the playground by my class. It was all in the name of Science of course, but for a moment I experienced what it’s like to be their age. They caught me soon enough to remind me of the reality.

Quirksome

There was a fight in the playground. Nothing new there you might think, but this time it was between two parents. It involved the police, an indefinite ban from the school premises and with their children looking on. Worst of all, I missed it. I was hoping to capture it on film for my Channel 5 documentary idea “When Parents Rampage”.

We’ve had a cage built within our playground, it’s called a MUGA, but it’s a cage. It’s used as a place to drop kids off at and then to stand well back from. Now, if I can just encourage enough hostile parents to batter each other, we could use it to raise money from cage fighting.

As if this wasn’t high drama enough, I thought we had a death on our hands too. I walked into the staff room to be confronted by what looked like a stiff. I didn’t recognise this person, either in life or in possible death and I had no stick to prod her with. I pretended to look too busy to notice a dead person, in case someone walked in. The relief, as she finally made a sound like a duck trying to whistle, was palpable.

The drama wasn’t over. A child in my class erupted. “I hate odd and even numbers!” he bellowed and chained himself to the radiator, using the strap from a wish box. Most children can’t wait to leave school at the end of the day. He refused to leave.

I feel sorry for odd numbers personally. To be labelled ‘odd’ isn’t nice and they have to put up with their smug, perfectly divisible neighbours. So the campaign starts here…from now on they will be known as ‘Quirky’ numbers! Quirky makes me think ‘bohemian’, ‘left-field’ and ‘unpredictable’. They’ll be the Quirky Quincy’s to the Even Steven’s. Will you join my cause?

1, 3, 5, 7, 9! Quirky numbers are just fine! 11, 13 and 15!  Quirky numbers vent your spleen!

To end the day, I found part of a letter in our photocopying room. It had been written by a former pupil who’d joined the school some sixty years ago. She could recollect, with startling clarity, all of her teachers. Also included in the letter were examples of the inspiration and confidence the teachers gave her.

As I lined up with 1,500 teachers to take part in the ‘TeachFirst Challenge Run’, I wondered if any one of us might be written about in sixty years time. If it’s me I hope I get the credit for the ‘Quirky Number Rap’.

What now brown cow?

It’s frustrating to have a child in your class who, like a cow, can’t walk downstairs. It’s not his fault but as the fire bell rang loudly, and with only small painful progress being made, I wondered if I could get him to crowd surf across the class in front of us.

“Tell the children to keep quiet behind you” I asked the first child up the stairs on our way back, with order now restored. “Keep quiet behind you!” she bellowed. You forget just how literally children can take requests.

The first week back is about suppressing your teaching rustiness from the kids. The week looked to be heading for a swan dive shitwards with news that the Head Teacher wanted to see me. I wondered if Bonaparte had grassed me up for licking a set of house keys.

I nervously entered her office regressing back to a naughty schoolboy, all awkward limbs and crumpled body language. She began “I’ve been giving it some thought and think it could work, although you have to make sure that all parties are effectively communicated with”.

I didn’t have the slightest idea what she was talking about. What to do? Pretend I understood, smile knowingly and look smug? Walk out backwards, hopefully confusing her? Feign a heart attack?  I decided to confess. “But the note you passed me…?” she looked at me as if I was the stuff on the pavement outside our school, that I’m never sure whether to step over or attempt to communicate with.

I then remembered that a few days earlier, she’d dropped a note that I’d picked up and given to her. She’d assumed the note was from me. Thank God it didn’t have “I love you” written on it. As it was, she laughed. She has a laugh like an exotic bird. I smiled until it hurt and waited for her to tell me I could go.

Our paths would cross again though. This time she came into the classroom mid-lesson to tell me two of my children had visited her. These “adorable girls” had helpfully told her that two boys in my class were not listening to my instructions. I shot the girls a look as the Head Teacher told the two boys off. She told them they could not be part of my ‘Groovy Group’.

I set up ‘Groovy Group’ as a lunchtime club to help some of the children who find Literacy and Numeracy difficult. My original name for it was ‘Groovy Gang’ but the word ‘gang’ was considered having violent undertones…

These boys, while not entirely innocent, didn’t deserve this. What to do this time? Pretend I agreed with her? Burst into song? Feign another heart attack? I decided to tell the truth. The boys were redeemed and the girls were instead told off for being vindictive. They were asked hand in their Groovy Group badge and gun.

The teacher in the next door class found the tales of my indifferent week hilarious. I wanted subtle revenge. What to do now? There was only one option this time. She has OCD so I crept into her room after she’d left and moved one of her wall displays to a slightly different angle.

Fast Forward the Future

Before I’d even met my new class I’d received an email from one of them. I opened it with some trepidation, and was surprised to find she was wife to a deceased former Head of Delegation to the World Bank in West Africa. She had a spare $8 million dollars and would I like to be its beneficiary? Failing that, she was trying to shift some Chinese ductile iron pipes and fittings.

By now I’d guessed it was just a shared name, either that or I had a kid in my class who could come in handy for any underground dealings. Her first assignment could be overpowering the kid who told me he had a knife. I found out from the parents it was used for cutting his birthday cake but you can’t be too careful.

I developed a permanent crease between my eyebrows from using my ‘stern look’ far too often last year. It’s been over employed in the first couple of days with the new bunch too. Not that you’d think I could be capable of any kind of severity judging by the glowing character reference given to me by one of the teaching assistants. “Tim is so polite” she gushed “always helpful, kind”. I was pretending to be modest whilst encouraging her to continue. “He is such a good role model, so helpful” she went on “we’re so glad you returned”. At this point I realised she was talking about somebody else. This could mean only one thing, Bonaparte was back.

He surfed back into all our lives on a tidal wave of swarminess. The women cooed, the parents wept with joy and I reached for the nearest sick bucket. I decided though in a moment of introspection to make more of an effort to like him (if only to stop the perennial dry retching).

On the first occasion he drove past me, as I walked home. As a joke I smiled and did the hitchhiking sign. I forgot though that I was using a hand already full with miscellaneous items and without the use of my thumb it looked as though I was doing the w****r sign. His face fell as he switched gears.

Determined to apologise the next time I saw him I made sure my hands were permanently empty. Alas the very next evening I forgot about a chocolate I’d been given and placed in my trouser pocket. I soon found one of my hands covered in melted chocolate. I had no tissues, no nothing and so did what any self-respecting survivalist/adventurer would do and tried to lick the chocolate off the assorted items in my pocket, which included a brand new phone. Mr Bonaparte sailed past in the car as I was in mid-lick. Our eyes met. His became slightly wider. At least now I can plead insanity.