Sunday 21 February 2010

Past Times...

I had an interesting comment on my previous entry (It's not rocket science) from an old student of mine. I remember S well. He was one of those lads in an early yr 11 of mine who totally convinced me that he would not achieve his potential - as he didn't believe in completing assignments...then proved me totally wrong by aceing the exams (the swine!) Actually I was delighted at how well he had done, it's nice and enlightening to get it wrong at times.
One of the things I remember about S, apart from his charm and his ability to talk his way out of any trouble (!) was the informal agreement we had that when he wanted to talk to me outside lessons, he either a) had to sit down while I stood, or, more often, b) found a staircase on which I stood and he spoke from ground level...The reason for this was that although I'm not short, S passed six foot before he was 16 and I didn't fancy spending the conversation looking up his nose! Yes, I remember S with great fondness and pride at his achievements.
But he's not the only one. S went the academic route and really succeeded, but then there was Ronnie. Ronnie hated school and was only hanging on by his fingernails because he wanted to go into the military and they wouldn't accept him if he was excluded, so we worked hard to keep him. The 'we' were myself, my lovely head of special needs dogs.
Following a conversation with Sarah, the head of special needs about my father in law's work with Pat dogs (dogs taken in to hospitals to work with patients) she agreed to let me bring in one of my golden retrievers to see if their presence would have a calming effect on students. It did. I will never forget the first time Ronnie met Gwen (my goldie). He dropped to the floor and within minutes the stroppy teen was stroking the soft golden hair and was calm and gentle. From then on, Ronnie's first words to me every time he came to see me were "Where's Gwen?" and woe betide me if I hadn't brought her!
He got into the military by the way and although his success was not academic, he did achieve the award for being the best recruit of his year...
Then there was R my other boy soldier, whose calm presence in the classroom even managed to quell the likes of the Chav Princess (see earlier blogs) or the lovely B, a girl from the year after S, whose writing skills took my breath away with their power...I long to see her in print - she'll do well.
And now there's A who became head boy, whose lack of confidence vanished with the realisation that he was actually very good and whose charm and gentleness will make him a superb doctor, when he completes his education. Then there's V and Al and the other R, students who I will remember along with S and B and all the others who touched my heart and kept my teaching alive and I hope relevant. It's not just the teacher who affects the student, but the student will also have an effect on the teacher, if that teacher is willing to listen.