Elizabeth popped up in my dreams last night; just as Hale and Hearty, Stuff and Nonsense as she was the week I started teaching in the adjoining classroom at Thrush Woods. Middle Infants – me, and she had Tops. We bonded a couple of days into my first week, when a passing ‘what are you doing with your lot this afternoon?’ revealed a shared love of Schools’ Television.
Pick us, Miss, pick us! Look how neatly we have lidded our marker pens! And see our flip-chart of ideas – a thing of beauty, too, in many colours, to which we all contributed collaboratively, working as a team…
Apart, that is, for the cow who teaches at – well, you know the one. Her anyway. Didn’t want to come on the course in the first place. Thought ‘Schemas in the Under Sevens’ was going to be about curriculum plans and not fannying around with a load of bricks. The only thing that’s stopping her playing with a mobile phone is that they’ve not yet been invented. We’d be better off teaching six year olds to name parts of speech, according to her. What a dinosaur!
We are discussing a comprehension paper on ‘Discoveries’, Class Six and I. One of the Gentleman Scientists discussed (and they are all gentleman, alas) was Alexander Graham Bell. I happen to know everything about the telephone, having read a couple of paragraphs on the subject once in a Bill Bryson book. So I share with the class my favourite fact, namely that, until Alexander’s friend Mr Watson invented the telephone bell some years later, the only way to know if someone was telephoning you was to pick up the receiver and check if they were on the other end.
One of the lassies frowns and raises her hand. “Even if it didn’t ring, you’d know someone was calling because the phone would vibrate,” she suggests. There is general agreement, swiftly followed by mild astonishment when I explained that the original phone neither rung nor vibrated. I didn’t break it to them that it didn’t take photos either: humankind cannot bear very much reality.
I’ve admitted before that I’m not an adventurous cove.
Exhibit 1 – domicile. Ten minutes walk from childhood home; five minutes from Aged P’s; two streets from previous house.
Exhibit 2 – employment. Teacher for twenty five years, twenty one of those in same school and, had PD not intervened, would probably be there still.
Exhibit 3 – holidays. Adverse to flying – conventional in extreme. Never been outside Europe, unless you count Yorkshire.
So this blog is being written at the start of what is, for me anyway, something of an adventure. I’m sitting in the dark on a balcony outside an apartment in Lille. ActorLaddie and I are inter-railing round Europe for nearly three weeks. Tomorrow we’re going to take the train to Cologne, then head off South to become RhineMaidens.
Tapping a blog out on mobile + added interest of tremor = bitesized, I’m afraid. So three things that have struck me about Lille:
1. Many scary looking police officers, particularly around the station, carrying bloody enormous machine guns.
2. The Bourse has become a market for second hand books, art, music and is utterly beautiful.
3. They still have a C&A’s, bringing back memories of my aunt taking me to the one in Clapham Junction to buy me a bikini for my twelfth birthday, which I insisted on trying on over my vest. Ah, those swinging Sixties.
And, in case you were worried, with the help of TunnelBear making my mobile think it’s still in Britain. I can still listen to the Archers. So that’s all good.
Today I am covering Mrs Grenfell’s class and am under instructions to lead a discussion on different sorts of airborne travel: aeroplanes, helicopters, rockets and the like.
“I have something sad to tell you about Mrs Sugarsprinkles,” I start. The children glance at Mrs Sugarsprinkles, who attempts to look grave. “At the weekend,” I continue, “she got stuck on a desert island.” I draw on the whiteboard a stick figure with a sad face and long hair, standing by herself under a tree on a small island. I add some surrounding sea and sharks fins, in an attempt to rack up the excitement. Bit of a masterpiece, if I say so myself. Continue reading →
“I’m sorry to have to tell you that I’m leaving.”
Oh no! Mrs Franklin has been Headteacher of Thrush Woods for just four terms, but we all really like her. This is bad news. I put down my cutlass and rummage in my frock-coat for a tissue. Mrs Franklin is also wiping away tears with one of her patchwork ears.
Just putting finishing touches to tomorrow’s post. In the meantime…
“So I called the boys into my office and we had a very stern conversation about swearing in the playground … the need for the oldest children in the school to act as good role models … the consequences should this behaviour recur. Then I sent them off to apologise to the dinner ladies.
“I watched them walk down the corridor and, as they turned the corner, Yob 1 turned to Yob 2 and, um, did this …”
“That’s my bike, I never stealed it.”
Mrs Berry gives Scoundrel one of her Hard Stares; always effective and now finely honed by her elevation to Deputy Head in one of the toughest areas of the borough. I like to think that at this stage she looked sternly over her spectacles, a move guaranteed to send fear into the most hardened of miscreants. I’ve seen her do this to great effect in many a staff meeting.