As soon as I could face it, I trawled the Parkinson’s forums (fora? Like dominum? Where is that Latin of yesteryear?). Anyway, trawling. Looking for teachers who had been diagnosed with the Nonsense and were still working. Showing me that it would be possible: that my work – and the associated payslip – were not about to disappear like an unsaved worksheet on the buggered hard-drive of doom.
Indulge me. It’s been a long week; I’m all digressy this morning.
And there were surprising few. Teachers still working with Parkinson’s, that is. More, admittedly, than big, brave, gentle Scottish actor-comedians. Good on you, Billy, for being so open about the diagnosis. Really sorry to have you join us, but the fight for a cure will be even stronger with the Big Yin in our team.
Anyway, not many working teachers on the sites. Many, many, many people who used to be teachers mulling over whether it was the stress or the fumes from the banda fluid (mmm…. banda fluid…) which triggered the condition. But few who were still working. Not a good sign.
That was, oh – a year ago. It’s taken me this long to work out why. Slow…thinking….
Bear with, bear with.
Imagine you are arranging a party for your eight year old child. They want to invite their whole class, even Wayne and Chardonnay. You’ve got them for two hours. You’re not allowed to book an entertainer or even put on a DVD. You’ve got to keep them busy, just yourself, with worthwhile activities so that, when the party is over, all of them have learnt something new; from Chardonnay to Jocasta. You mustn’t leave the room. At the end of the two hours, you have fifteen minutes for a wee and a coffee (together or apart – your call). Then you do it again. Then you have lunch, during which you tidy up and get ready to do it again.
After the ball is over, you’ll look at what they have done during the party and how they have done it. You’ll highlight where they have met their objectives and transfer this data to your assessment folders. You see that Jocasta is still needing to stand still during musical statues, whereas Chardonnay is ready to calculate the weight of the Parcel as a fraction of a kilo. You’ll set targets for their next game as well as writing a positive comment. Five to ten minutes per child marking, 30 children – three hours, minimum. Per activity.
You’ll look at what you were going to do for tomorrow’s party when you planned it on Sunday, and adjust in the light of today’s. Perhaps the musical chairs might work be more interactive if some of the children played their own instruments and one conducted? Have you got enough party poppers to re-enact the jousting tournament? Is there a story you can share which is connected to dusty bluebells? Will Amazon be able to deliver it in time?
You need to decorate the room as a celebration of what happened today. After all, Wayne has never before managed to pin the tail on anything other than Jocasta. You did take a photo which you had intended to tweet as well as printing out for his Learning Journal but the camera is out of battery and the printer is out of ink. You need to provide some stimulus for tomorrow’s activities with interactive questions, natch. Why is Mr Wolf the only one with a watch?
ActorLaddie is now ready with the soup, so you put the remaining paperwork to one side to finish later that evening, determined to get an even earlier start the next day.
You toss and turn that night, wondering if the incident during the game of Postman’s Knock needs reporting to the authorities. And what if Ofparty call? Can you show that your Average Party Score has gone up at least two points this year?
The next day, you do it all again. And every day; pausing only to swipe at people who suggest that running children’s parties must be such fun as it only takes five and a half hours a day, and what do you do with the rest of your time?
I am explaining, not complaining. Did you hear me complain? How can you not enjoy being with people who ask you – as they did this week – what is that big black thing on the wall of their new classroom, which you write on with chalk? (Only one left in the school. Never freezes, even when the server is down).
But that, it has finally dawned on me, is the reason that teachers with Parkinson’s are not on the forumses (forii?). It’s not that they don’t exist. They just too busy, teaching.