Monthly Archives: April 2013

The sun reflected

It was 15 seconds in when the trousers went down. Not mine. They belonged to the autistic child in the class. Coincidentally the lesson was on variation, which included the difference between boys and girls. If he’d gone commando he could have demonstrated at least one contrast.

It also happened to be a lesson being observed by a secondary school teacher. My look to her said “welcome to my world”. The boy explained later that he merely wanted to “scratch his bum”. I was secretly envious; I have to wait till assembly and subtly dry hump the radiator.

My class are very perceptive, having overdosed (accidentally) on whiteboard cleaner I spent the afternoon feeling wiped out from wiping out and they were quick to sense blood. It was like Komodo Dragons tracking their prey. Every mispronunciation or mix up of a name was alerted to me, every stutter or incorrect comment seized upon. I felt like a boxer taking too many head shots while the referee animatedly waits to jump in.

Then the real kicker; I innocently typed in ‘Things to do in Dorset’ and an image appeared of the Cerne Abbas Giant. It left the boys envious and the girls scarred for life.

We headed to the school photographer to create the illusion of perfection. I broke off from my frozen smile to keep telling the same kid to cut the gangsta pose. I could just imagine the parents “Oh darling you look simply radiant…why is that child next to you simulating pointing a gun at your head?”

The mini-mafioso is not surprisingly the bully of the class. Academically beige (evidence from a recent spelling test result “Is 3 out of 10 good?”) and temperamentally volatile (“I hate making choices!”) he is nonetheless entitled as class bully to not be crossed by any other child.

When a boy came to me and, in full view of the glacial stare of the knee-height knee capper, wrongly accused him of stealing a ball, well, I should have just given the bully the golden arse kicking ticket then and there. I went to a school which made ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ look like ‘Glee’ and the first rule is you don’t rat on a bully.

The second rule I just made up is ‘don’t engage in frantic waving with a child until you’re within a radius of around 1.5 metres’. As I sloped off home, I spotted a kid from my class in the distance. Kids get excited when they see you out of school and you momentarily feel like a Z-list celebrity (like that bloke from that film).

The kid started waving frantically so I instinctively did too. I realised after a few seconds he had no intention of stopping waving until we passed. I thought if I don’t replicate this I might not only hurt his feelings, but cause his mother to think I’m the kind of guy who thinks it’s acceptable to abruptly stop waving at a child.

So I carried on, despite the odd looks from street dwellers, curtain twitchers and passing motorists. I was also smiling inanely, the same grimace I’d held for the school photographer. My arm ached, my cheeks began to quiver but I soldiered on. Then, inexplicably, I started nodding too.

I now resembled the kind of person that neighbours describe as “a man who keeps himself to himself”. I was so relieved to eventually pass him I nearly cried for the first time since ratting on a bully.


For what it’s worth

My class started the term so sedate it was almost as if they’d forgotten how to misbehave. I stared incredulously as they did what I asked when I told them to. I’d learnt that week on first aid training that a sign of epilepsy is a vacant stare, in which case I was dealing with a whole class of them. I could’ve performed the splits while juggling some shrunken heads from the Amazonian Jivaroan tribe and it wouldn’t have elicited more than a shrug.

The only time they leapt into action was way after the fact. It was the child with the speech impediment that spotted the upturned flask and its contents spreading across my desk. I came in second, a good seven minutes later. A few seconds after that, they all chorused their concerns.

I’d already opened the dishwasher too early and ended up with enough wet patches to suggest I was over excited about meeting a parent. This was sadly not the case. Her son had joined the class recently and not before attended school. I asked a teaching assistant to help translate my words into Gujarati.

Four seconds in and I realised that the parent could no better understand the translator than me. It was like the Indian equivalent of a Mexican standoff. What followed was frozen smiles, nodding heads and occasional confused looks. What to do with a parent who doesn’t understand simple sentences in her own language? I was going to hand the child homework but it would’ve been easier to organise a dog to eat it then and there.

The addition of the new child was to replace a twin who’d left at the end of last term. I was upset to see him go and yet when I told the neighbouring teacher that her twin had gone she punched the air in delight. I’m guessing I got tweedledee.

The frozen smile, nodding head and confused look also reminded me of the latest addition to the staff, that being ‘Mathematics Mike’. Mike is a robot designed by a reception teacher, made of household goods. Just to clarify that sentence it’s the robot not the teacher that’s made of household goods. Maybe I’ve watched too many films but I’ve already started dismantling it each time I pass by. I’m trying to avoid the inevitable moment Mike goes mental and starts rampaging.

I don’t consider myself a technophobe; I’m more a techno-why’s-it-doing-that? For example, the Head Teacher looked perplexed as she found a Google entry on one of our classes’ iPads that read ‘What is a mofo?’ Now, I call my class “a bunch of mofos” all the time but I didn’t expect them to look the term up.

The mystery was cleared when I realised the child wanted to find out what ‘Morfo’ is, a software that allows you to turn your picture into a crazy 3D character. I used it to transform a picture of the Head Teacher to allow her to give me the benefit of the doubt. This made a change; it’s normally the teachers who are expected to be all singing, all dancing.

In other news the klass kleptomaniac arrived to tell me that she had her “baby brother in my bag”. Her reputation meant I felt the need to check she hadn’t smuggled him into school. I was relieved to find just a photo. On a previous occasion she’d tried to pass to me a £50 note.

We live in austere times though and today a child tried to give me an old 50p coin. I politely refused, explaining it was no longer legal tender and I don’t get out of bed for less than a farthing.

I rarely comment on politics, this blog is more about my day-to-day life as a teacher. I feel compelled though to add my two cents worth (to continue the money theme) about Gove’s plan to cut the school holidays and make the days longer. He’s an idiot. That’s about two cents worth, as I said we live in austere times.