Friday, January 21, 2005

Do you want vanilla?

I am proud when my 11 year old children ask me if I want the text for the online forms that they are composing to be vanilla or not. The school network is ridiculous. I currently have 7 pupils gathered desperately around the wireless router trying to get their wireless cards to pick up a signal. When I suggest that they shut down and try again they tell me that they've already done so. So far the lesson is 30 minutes old and they've not even been able to log on. Crap.

Just finished the lesson. Trying to teach the forms function on Word to enhance the children's understanding of official documents. Only 7 computers working, and none of them really on the network, so when it came to saving all the work everything went tits up. Spent most of the lesson either on the phone to the people who installed our new switch ortrying to work out how to get some support from our ICT support people. We pay ICT support privately, but have decided that they don't want to support us any more because they are losing money with the amount of support they have to give us. This leaves us in the lurch, unable to afford their £300 a half day charges, yet with no-where else to turn.

Yes. Arrives tomorrow. Or Monday. Which am I more excited about? New baby or forerunner? New baby. Just.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Moi, J'adore



Do I look stupid to you?

Literacy today seems to have been more about who can get hold of the most highlighter pens. I have enough for one highlighter pen each, but, of course, the children require 6 different colours each. Hilarious discussion involving trespassing and prosecuting, with one child, the one child in the class who knew what prosecution meant explaining to me that he would probably trespass on land which displayed a sign threatening prosecution, because "I am but a child, and the courts cannot prosecute children,"

Yeah, right, he'd go out trespassing just after his oboe lesson and before stamp collecting club.

After having said that I hate teaching maths yesterday, today I loved teaching maths. I taught the children to add 3 digit numbers today. They loved it. Funny how the lessons that I spend hours preparing to make interactive, futuristic and fun they hate and the ones that I teach off the page, half asleep and uninspired, they love love love.

I have just caught four kids playing a game called hiding seek tag. They were running in and out of the school playing it. I watched them playing it for 10 minutes before I asked them to come into my classroom and join the lunchtime detention I am houlding. They all did fantastic who me?'s to me, which inspired a ten minute shout. Best cliche? "Do you think I'm stupid?".

Must buy more red lentils, more brown rice, more porridge oats.

Fennel seed and coriander seed in here. Good for the soup. Good for the stew.

The bean book

Pressure got the drop on you

I put this picture on my fridge.

Ex porridge and apple and yoghurt. Peach yoghurt today.

Page 24

This is the knife that cut the apple.

Don't worry - The Car Park Card now has money on it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I am a dinosaur

What shall I do? Should I start using my own photos in my blog? Seems a shame. Googled photos look so nice. Mine will look horrid.

Supper tonight is more quinoa, with a black bean stew. Black Beans, carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes, garlic. Maybe some cottage cheese on the side.

I am excited. Jump London just arrived today. I have watched a little with Elly. She likes to watch people jump off buildings. She then jumps off the sofa. She does little parkour jumps off kerbs now, and clambers onto the small bollards at the hospitals as soon as she sees them. I will eat food in front of the telly.

I was late home this evening so didn't go running. The reason I was late was because a Numeracy consultant came to teach me how to teach multiplication. I responded by asking loads of cynical questions about the nature of what we are being asked to teach. I am experiencing a nasty kind of wave of new initiatives coming in once I've got to grips with the old ones, and feel myself getting old. I even bored myself during the staff meeting - god knows what my colleagues must have been thinking. I can see myself in 20 years time, sitting in the corner of a staffroom in a tank top with froth around my moustache, spittle sticking to my teeth as I try to chew up a grapefruit. I can hear the same old shit that i spout out now sounding progressively less and less radical and militant and more and more reactionary and tired. I am too bored to even think about this any more. I am becoming a dinosaur. The only way out is up the cliff face.

Now do you realise how important senses are?

From reports on senses:

'Senses can make you enjoy life more...'

'How many smells can you think of? Do you dislike them?'

'Smells can make you feel different.'

Look at her. She loves marking. She loves it there, with her anglepoise lamp and frappamochachinolattedecafsoyaskinny. She enjoys every word. Not like me. I hate marking. It makes me feel a tightness in my chest. My back aches. My pen hurts my hand. My handwriting gets worse and worse. I scrawl comments which don't really move the children forward. Anything really worthwhile that I could write would take at least 5 minutes to write, and would take up half a page. I'm a teacher - I'll help with the maths...

30 x 5 = 150 minutes. That's 2 hours 30 to mark my literacy books. Don't think so. Let's get a little more realistic. 30 minutes would be more like it. That's one minute a book. That means that each book gets a trite little comment. The children look for stars and housepoints, and anyone official who doesn't trust me can see clearly that I do my job. What a royal waste of time. I suppose there are those that argue that by marking my children's books I get to see who is doing well and who isn't - no - I find that out by reading through my children's books. The marking? Helps me to flag up every negative. Brilliant.

Favourite comments to write on children's work:

'Well done'

'Good effort'

'You need to read this back to yourself to check that your writing makes sense' (v. popular this one - should read 'can't really explain what's wrong with this, but there is something deeply and consistantly flawed in your writing')

A great example of a comment written in fury:


It stings when you slap it...

Apparently, the clay that the children are working on stings when you slap it. Imagine 30 snare drums being thrown against the wall. That's the sound of my classroom as the children bang that air out of the clay.

I had more Kale for lunch in the form of a tomato soup. I added Sage, Fennel and Coriander Seed to my usual lentil soup, plus a can of tomatoes. It tasted good. My stomach now hurts a bit though - possibly due to some trapped wind. I am hoping to fart soon. I will blame it on a child when I do.

Lunch duty is the worst bit, as you have to go out at five to one and blow a whistle. Sounds easy, but for some reason it is almost impossible to haul yourself out there in time to blow. If you don't blow, none of the dinner ladies can go home, and they all get cross, but there is always the classroom to set up, a wee to be done and a cup of tea to be prepared first. Five to one on a Tuesday lunchtime is the nearest life gets to a real life anxiety crisis.

Morning Break has Broken

At morning break, two girls in year 5 approached me and said "Mr Trent". I ignored them for a couple of seconds, then said "What do you want?". They nodded their heads a lot and said nothing, paused and muttered "Shall we say it?" and "It's not important," and "No, no".

I said "What is it, I am very interested" and then one of the girls told me that next week she is getting a labrador puppy for her birthday. It is three weeks old and she has a picture of it in her bag at school. At this point, God Save The Queen boy shouted "'Scuse" at me and stood with a tennis ball that he was using as a cricket ball above his head in a semi threatening manner.

Look. This looks great doesn't it? We all love jumping in leaves. I told lots of children off at playtime. They were building houses made out of leaves. Giant houses which came up to their waists. It looked like a lot of fun, but it is against the school rules. They knew they shouldn't be doing it. I wouldn't have told them off but two sneaky little grasses from year 3 came and told on them.

The tops of my ears are cold and my fingers find it difficult to type.

Before break we consolidated yesterday's learning to subtract by counting on, using a number line. It is a funny method. You have to add all the numbers up at the end, and this often becomes confusing. Apparently it aids understanding. It is now more important to understand the process than to get the answer right. Some weeks I love teaching maths and some weeks I hate it. This week I am hating it.

I've been in 20 minutes now and my fingers are still unthawed. The children are doing some planning and writing of reports on "senses". Whilst this offers me some time to do silly stuff like blog now, the thought of 30 written reports to mark by tomorrow fills me with utter anxiety. Every new piece of work is a new piece of marking. I should have asked them to write me a report on Punk Rock. Then I would be interested in marking it - although years ago I tried to get my class to write reports about ska and reggae and this was even worse, as the reports contained many little inaccuracies, which prickled me as I read them.

Playground Duty

I don't love playground duty, but there are some amusing aspects to it. I particularly enjoy saying good morning to the children. This morning one child observed that I was wearing my cycling gloves. Another said "nice gloves," in a vaguely sarcastic way, stroked them and gave me a thumbs up.

I then stood in the playground for a long time and watched the children play and felt a bit lonely. The child who sang "God Save The Queen" yesterday is wearing birthday badges. They congratulate his sixth birthday. He is 11 today.

I overheard a child in year 4 saying that he would sacrifice himself for a chicken nugget.

10 miles

My legs are tired.

I am cooking braised chicken and celery. This is what it looks like, except I chucked in some organic chicken thighs. I removed the skin, because skin makes you into a fatty. Mashed potato for polly. Green beans and quinoa for me. I just ironed a blue shirt, a white shirt and a purple shirt and watched a dvd of Ricky Gervais. I watched his directors commentary. I am waiting for Polly to get back from work. She has gone to clear her desk.

Monday, January 17, 2005

We mean it man...

I have just caught a 10 year old in my class sneering "we mean it maaan,"

I asked him if he loved his queen.

He is now playing air guitar on his ruler and singing the whole song, with his teeth barred. A bit like Beavis.

Monday 17th January, 2005

Today I drove very very slowly up the hill between linton village and the turn off to the top of the village. A man in a silver car correspondingly drove very, very close to me and shook his head angrily at me. I noted his disapproval and drove slightly slower. The road is a 40 mph speed limit, but lots of cars like to go much faster than this. I think they like to kill people. I enjoyed watching him shake his head and drive dangerously close to me. It made me think of the time I was rear ended in my vw polo. As I pulled off the road I waved at my irate driving partner.

I have had a rather drab morning. I tried teaching "counting on to solve subtraction" but I was very uninspired, and could barely bring myself to finish the lesson, which kind of washed out as most of my maths lessons have recently. I don't think the children learnt much, but they seemed to enjoy the method of solving the sums - at least Sylvia did, as she loudly shouted "oh yes" each time I set a problem.

My literacy lesson was also a bog standard affair, today going through some Sats reading test questions. An amusing situation developed around an answer which identified the area of your tongue which tastes "sour" flavour as the "backside". Arnold told me that he wished to test this with a lemon, and then mimed inserting it into his backside. One of those situations where I'm never entirely sure if I should be disciplining or laughing, and one of the rare occaisions when I actually do laugh. It was a terrific mime, and, as I think I portray, a rather boring lesson.

For lunch I had Kale and Borlotti Bean Soup which I cooked last night, and had a long discussion with everyone about the imminent arrival of my next child.

Now the children are playing with the computers, reviewing websites with particular reference to the design of the buttons in preparation for next week's lesson where we will make buttons. Nothing funny has happened so far.

A Number