“For when the One Great Scorer comes
to write against your name,
He marks – not that you won or lost –
But how you played the Game.”
An admirable sentiment but it means nothing to the average 7-year-old. They may be undernourished (I’ve nicknamed my class ‘Rickets United’) but winning is everything to them, even if it means pushing kids off the podium or telling the fat kid to feign an injury.
One child had kindly bought me a tie as an end of term present and I’d promise to wear it, forgetting half of the day would be spent in the searing heat. I looked like an idiot but a smart idiot which I guess is an oxymoron. Speaking of morons, the sun hats we’d made for the class to counteract the heat looked like dunce caps.
Eventually I tied it round my head and resembled an emaciated Rambo. The class also dispensed with their dunce caps and it all ended in a water fight and when the water ran out, a fight.
Our School policy dictates men cannot wear sandals, too much ‘foot’age perhaps? Sandals with socks are, of course, career suicide so I was left with two options, either;
1) Claim to have webbed feet and wear flippers.
2) Pretend to have two left feet and slip on some flip flips.
The curriculum has to take a back seat in weather like this (although remember to leave the curriculum in the shade with a good supply of water) and I was grateful to take any opportunity to get them outside. Despite my teaching them how to both suppress and cover a yawn, I was getting sick of the sight of their tonsils.
It wasn’t just the heat though that was causing their random acts of vapidity, one child wrote a lovely letter telling me how great I was but prefaced it with “I was so bored on Sunday I thought of you…”
Compliments slide off you when you’re a teacher. Children are terrible judges of character. They adore Mr Bonaparte (who accidentally let slip twice to me that his last lesson was considered “outstanding”) and built a shrine out of egg cartons and toilet rolls for the volunteer who worked with us this week, just because she’d bought them all ice cream.
The parents are equally prone to misunderstanding. One child piped up with “my parents said my report was good!” “Your parents clearly didn’t understand it” I thought, regretting not having chosen simpler words than ‘petulant’ and ‘idle’.
The slightest of welcome breezes blew our wow word post-it stickers into the neighbouring builder’s yard. They kindly returned them but felt both “apoplectic” and “disgruntled”.
“We are giving you a very challenging class, but feel they need a man”. Sometimes I resent having testes and translated this means your new class are mental. As if to prove it, upon being introduced to them, one asked “Am I male, female or both?”
It’s already an unsettling experience meeting the new class but I had a teaching assistant scurrying around me attaching a microphone to my shirt. “Are we going live?” I asked, expecting it to be a reality TV show (‘I’ve got the shitty end of the stick, get me out of here’?). In fact, it was to help the deaf child sat at the front.
I have to be mindful of turning the thing off between lessons as he can hear every word. I’m already imagining the following scene:
Me: Mrs Smith I know your son says he thought he heard me swearing but actually I was just practicing my Prussian
Another child is only spending an hour a day at the school. His crime? Punching the Head in the head. So with my guard up and working behind a solid jab I read with him. He misunderstood ‘the blue tit has light yellow underparts’ and asked if “tits are found in light yellow underpants?”. “Only if you’re elderly” I explained. He also corrected the spelling of ‘but’. Unfortunately in this particular context it was correct and only my impromptu performance of “I like big butts” by Sir Mix-A-Lot, could prove this.
I have three days left to teach, or as we now call it ‘babysit’, before the end of term. I’m looking forward to hearing the final bell.