Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It was just a happening...

I hate teaching Dance. It is my least favourite lesson.

Except for History. I hate that too. History, Geography and Dance.

And Games.

And Art.

And ICT – that’s not really fair, I love teaching ICT when it works, but our ICT suite is still totally unreliable so lessons inevitably starts off great as in “Right, today you’re all going to learn how to use publisher to make your own cartoons” (“HOORAY,”) and ends up shit as in “Right, what did we learn today about computers class?”

It was just a happening

“We learnt today that the when clip art manager freezes for the 27th time, Myrtle and Andrew start crying,”


Oh God, I nearly forgot. I hate teaching RE too.

However, dance is the worst of all because the dances develop into a scrum of 30 children running round and around the hall flapping their hands like John Inman on speed. For example,

“OK, listen to the tambourine, and imagine each time I tap it, you feel a little bit of rain, got it? Good. Off you go,”

The children walk around tentatively, then at the very first tiny shake from the tambourine their hands raise to shoulder level, the eyes release a pent up frenzy and they all, as one, flap deliriously round and around the hall.

It was just a happening

“Good, excellent try, but we all seem to be over-reacting a little bit to the tiniest amount of rain. Do you think we could possibly try again, only this time, when you hear the rain, try not to go running round and around the hall flapping your arms, that’d make a nice change. OK, ready?”

They start walking around the hall.

One tap on the tambourine – they all stop and look at each other, faces go red and screw up, their bodies tense up, they start shaking with the effort to hold it in.

Another tap and WHOOOOOSH, they’re off again, legging it round and round the hall, flapping and flapping, screaming, laughing, shouting “I’m getting wet, I’m getting wet,” and nodding their heads from side to side with their mouths open and their tongues hanging out.

Today was session 2 of our dance lesson.

Before we started, I shook the tambourine a few times then continued shaking it. This went on until I sensed the children had cottoned on to the fact that there was no hidden meaning to me shaking the tambourine, that I was just shaking the tambourine and seeing how long I could hold the children’s attention for before they got bored of me shaking the tambourine.

It was just a happening

Enrique had given it a good go though, standing up straight to attention for a bit, waving at the others to do the same, grinning at me for affirmation that this was the hidden message I was sending them by my tambourine shaking, receiving none and disappointedly sitting back down.

Just before I stopped shaking the tambourine, Mark sneezed.

“Good,” I said. “My magic spell worked,”

“What magic spell?” shouted Enrique, slightly inappropriately.

“Good question Enrique, but I wish you to raise your hand before you ask, so I am unable to answer you. Class, I know magic and I just cast a magic spell to make Mark sneeze. “Mark, did it work?”

It was just a happening

Mark’s eyes are nearly popping out of his head.

“Yes, it did work,” Mark says.

The rest of the class are muttering “No it didn’t,” and “That’s not true,”

”It is true,” I say, “Mark, did you need to have a sneeze before I started waving the tambourine?” I asked.

“No, I didn’t,” Mark says, shaking his head in disbelief like a punter at a Derren Brown gig.

“And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, for no reason, you suddenly did a sneeze – don’t you think that’s a bit strange?” I ask him.

“Yes, it is,” Mark says.

“Exactly Mark, I made you have that sneeze, by my magic…” I say, raising my voice and doing over the top hand gestures and spinning around on one leg.

Jamelia has her hand up.


“It was just a happening,” says Jamelia.

“Do you mean a co-incidence?” I ask.

“Yes, it just happened at the same time as you were playing the tambourine,” she says.

“How dare you? I have Magic Powers,” I say, mock indignantly.

“No you don’t,” she says.

“I do,” I say, genuinely feeling smug at my excellent plan that has fallen into my head, “I shall prove it to you,” I address the whole class,

It was just a happening6

“Stand up everyone” I say.

Now, I didn’t for one moment think that they would ever disobey me.

Obviously, I am an idiot.

“O.k. listen, I’m serious now, stand up,”


“Ummm, no, I’m the teacher, and you all have to do it, everyone, stand up,”

They all sit down and grin at me.

“Ok. If you don’t get up, I’ll put you in 12.30,”

2 or 3 children jump up, the rest are seated, a couple are springing up in the air like those rubber suction pad ladybirds. The class burst into excited chatter –

"He's just suggesting," someone says.

"He's trying to influence us," says another child and I am surprised by her sudden articulacy.

"It's just pretending," someone else says.

"He can't make us do it" someone else says.

Enrique is running around whispering in everyone’s ears and Myrtle is dancing anxiously from one foot to another.

I seem to have started a full scale mutiny.

I glance at my watch. It is now 2.17. We only have 30 minutes left to go and we’ve got lots to do.

“Right everyone, joking aside, we’ve got to all get up,” I say.

“NO, NO, HE’S TRYING TO TRICK US!” shouts Karen.

This is all my own fault. I glance over at my teaching assistant. She looks back at me, shrugs her shoulders, sneers and starts laughing.

The door to the hall swings open and the deputy head starts walking across, head thankfully buried in her clipboard.

“OK, so we are going to be looking at rain again today children, doing another…”

The opposite door to the hall swings shut.

It was just a happening

“Look, will you all just get up, please, please get up, I really need to teach the lesson,”

“No, you aren’t magic,” says Lottie.

”I know, I’m not magic, I’ve got no magic powers, shhh, shhh, listen everyone, I don’t have any magic powers and I’m not doing any magic on you whatsoever. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d really like to teach you the dance lesson that I’ve got planned, so could you please all stand up for me, please” I am pleading.

They all stand up.

I smirk. I open my mouth, but something in my brain says “Don’t do it, DO NOT SAY “SEE, I TOLD YOU I WAS MAGIC,”

“OK, everyone. I want you to all walk around the hall as if it has just started raining very gently.” I say.

Everyone hurtles around the hall and flaps as if their hands are on fire. Except for one child who approaches me tentatively…

“I’m confused, I don’t understand. You said you weren’t going to do any magic on us,” says Lottie.

"Don’t worry Lottie, I'm not doing any more magic. Now, I wonder if you can do what all the others are doing?"

She runs off.


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