Sunday 30 May 2010

Speechless with white mice

The last lesson came for my Yr 11. Can't say I was looking forward to it as I'd come to enjoy teaching this talented, sparky group, and I also enjoyed being with them, I liked their intelligent, amusing company. Well, the bell rang and I trudged into the classroom to be told in no uncertain terms to go away. Slightly miffed, I was about to retort, when I saw the grin on the face of the girl who'd told me to get lost. "We'll come and get you when we're ready," she added pushing me out of the classroom and into the English office.
Slightly bemused I waited, then the same girl came in and told me that they were now ready for me. I wandered back into the classroom and stopped dead. All the kids were standing in a row on the back desks holding a giant banner that read 'We love Straker.' S0me were holding large sheets of sugar paper as well, on which they'd written things like 'Welsh Dragon', 'We love you Miss'' "We love The Welsh Witch"...
I had to leave, back into the office.
I've taught a long time and I've had great classes, but this is the first time that a class has done this.
It was hard to know what to say, but practice came to the rescue... along with my white mice, which, as promised in earlier lessons, (White Mice for Effort) I distributed as a sort of fun recognition of their work over the last two years.
On the following evening, at the year 11 leavers' prom, one of my girls grabbed my arm and pulled me over to have a photograph taken with her, saying as she did so, "I've got to have a photo Miss, you're my hero. My role model..."
I'm not often rendered speechless.
I've often told my classes that my role model is Granny Weatherwax (Terry Pratchett's wonderful creation), that she's a superb role model for all women... Does this mean I'm now Granny Straker?
What a truly scary thought!!
The following day, one of my girls presented me with a photograph of the class with their banners and me, taken with a phone. It's a bit blurry and the resolution isn't brilliant, but the smiles and their affection is crystal clear and it holds pride of place on my book shelf.

Boys go camping...turmoil ensues.

It was coming up to the time when the yr 11s were leaving for study leave and me and my lot were having a discussion about Lord of the Flies. We were having an argument about the leadership qualities of Jack and Ralph, when in walked the Head. He was apparently checking up that the year 11s were being kept working until they left...
Anyway, I was in full flow, fielding arguments and firing questions at the students. The Head stopped and watched. The kids ignored him and carried on, too engrossed in their discussion to pay attention to what they clearly saw as an unnecessary intrusion into their interesting debate. Between leaping from desk to desk (literally!), urging the kids to voice their views, I also surreptitiously watched the Head. The expression on his face was a picture! Unable to stop myself, I yelled at him "Come on Sir, what do you think Golding's saying about leadership?" (Well, if you walk into my class in the middle of a lesson, you only have yourself to blame if you get dragged into the proceedings!) He paused, then looking very embarrassed, admitted that he'd never read the book...Fielding derisory comments from me about uneducated people (he does have a sense of humour!) he saved face by asking the class if they could sum up the book for him in three sentences... Honestly, has this man even tried to read Golding!? Anyway, some of the kids tried and managed very well. But what really got me was, as he left, he said he was truly impressed that the kids were being taught right up to the end ( er..what was supposed to be happening? It was a lesson!) and that they were clearly all totally involved and that the learning and cooperative atmosphere was phenomenal. Then he thanked me. At which point, the class applauded!
I was proud of my class. They were totally themselves during the visit and they really showed their mettle. I was also pleased that after some of the hassle of the past (see earlier blogs ) that the boss could see that I know what I'm doing. Nice feeling.
Oh yes, as a corollary to this, as the door closed after the Head, one of the boys said, "Hey Miss, Dom might have summed up Lord of the Flies in three sentences, I can do it in one:
Boys go camping...turmoil ensues."
Enough said.