Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Man With No Shadow

There comes a time in every man’s life when you need to take stock and realise you’re having a meeting with two adults about which colour pen to use for marking. It didn’t end there. The pious, irritant of a learning mentor was describing how a non-English speaking member of the class couldn’t access the learning. “Maybe I should take a crash course in speaking Farsi?” I wanted to suggest. She reminds me of the people who will hysterically scream “Won’t somebody please think of the children?” and yet would never be a class teacher as it looks too much like hard work.

For the second year in a row, I’m saddled with the class nobody wanted. The school called a ‘just popping our head around the door, you won’t even know we’re there honest, informal observation” and boy, did my class take the opportunity to show their truest colours. There was none of the ‘lets make an effort for the Head Teacher’ they ripped up the copy book and collectively shat on it.

One child in particular (imagine the Tasmanian devil having overdosed on hallucinogenics and then stubbed his toe), excelled. The Head Teacher ended up chaperoning him around the classroom, to my internal and eternal amusement. My instructions at the start of term were simply to ‘keep him in the class’ and to my credit he hasn’t yet been able to work out the code to open the fire exit door.

As the dust settled and the initially concerned faces turned to more sympathetic ones, I began to think the school was perhaps not as bad as I first thought. Ok, so I have to permanently wear a radio mic for the deaf child, which means if I forgot to turn it off he hears my break time piss and I am the only male teacher, but as I stood in assembly watching the women from the local Dance Academy I reminded myself of why I chose this profession in the first place.

There is also the promise of stories such as the two kids in my class who are the same age and yet one is the aunt the other (a colleague had to put this into diagrammatic form for me and I still didn’t get it) and the parent who asked me if there was a dead child in my class.

During a lesson a neighbouring teacher had wandered past with a model skeleton. The confusion to a young child is clear. The confusion to a parent is less so. It’s always with hindsight that you think of the best responses “oh so you didn’t get the letter asking your child to attend our live class autopsy?” or “Dead? oh I thought he was just really quiet”.

The day ended with pox or nits or both rampaging through the school. “Have you noticed a rash?” asked the Head Teacher. I declared I hadn’t the last time I checked and thanked her for raising it now rather than in the interview. It also ended with another holier than thou setting my teeth on edge.

There comes a time in every man’s life when you need to take stock and realise that an adult is seriously suggesting you help a lazy bastard child in your class by “planning, building and carrying out a short obstacle course using old cushions as stepping-stones for example, you could together commando crawl under chairs, climb in and out of cupboard boxes, crawl through a tunnel, jump and heavily march on the spot!”.

I preferred option B which was to “give the child an occasional moving break”. I’m only to happy to do this. I just need enough space for the run up.


There was some teaching too

“Oh there you are Tim, hope you’re settling in alright. I know it’s not easy starting at a new school but we do our best to make sure you achieve a good work/life balance, did someone show you where the gents are?

Just a few housekeeping rules while I’ve got you, it’s just to┬ámake sure we’re all singing from the same song sheet and happy bunnies at the end of the day. First off, the learning intention for each lesson must be typed up, printed out, cut up, then glued into each book. This must be done at the beginning and end of each day and you’re not to ask a TA to do this, it’s your responsibility. The date must be in red, the learning objective below that in green, using the SassonCRInfant font of 12.

Also, milk must be handed out to the children, who are having milk, at the end of the morning lessons. There is a list of which children have semi or skimmed, other children should be given water in the classroom (there’s no outside water fountain, what are we like?) and fruit.

Now did I mention that the children need to change into their outdoor shoes before going to break and back into their indoor shoes before coming back into the classroom? It’s to keep the carpet clean, health and safety doesn’t take a day off here! Not on my watch!

Now the children need group targets on the wall, each child’s name needs to be laminated and placed alongside their group, they’ll need individual targets in their books, either on green or blue card, green for Literacy, blue for Numeracy, this should be printed on labels and once again be in the SassoonCRInfant font of 12. These should be changed regularly to reflect when he or she have met their target. Rather than annotate on them, we’d prefer it if you would print out a fresh label with the new target using the SassonCRInfant font of 12.

Lastly there is dishwasher duty, you’ll need to make sure the kitchen is kept clean and spotless after morning and afternoon breaks. The staff room should be immaculate and the interior of each cupboard should match the photos on the exterior of each cupboard.

Did I say lastly? What am I like? We expect displays to be changed weekly, this includes both Literacy and Numeracy walls and Literacy and Numeracy working walls.

Store cupboards will be checked fortnightly to make sure they are tidy and accessible.

Your desk must be tidy at the end of each day. The tops of any units or cupboards to be clutter free.

We have 4, count ’em 4 reward systems. One involves adding the childrens’ names to pegs (you know which font type we prefer) and moving them up and down a seven tiered reward system, another involves giving house points to different teams, one other involves adding stars to merit books, the child receives a certificate when they make a ‘pyramid of stars’, there’s also star of the week but that’s self-explanatory.

Do not use a yellow or green pen to dot a child’s assessed work, rather peel off a sticker of the designated colour. Simples! You’ll find stickers in your tidy, accessible and clutter free store cupboard.

There are reading record books, guided reading books, home jotters, home learning books and reading diaries.

Oh yes and all plans should be of A4 length for each day, using the SassoonCRInfant font of 12.

So, any questions? No?

Any plans for the weekend? No?”

There was some teaching too…