Tuesday 4th January 2010
Today was not just the day when VAT rose by two-and-a-half percent to 20 percent it was also the first day of the spring term. Therefore, I was amazed to be offered half a day’s work by an agency at around 9:10am – albeit in a familiar school. I arrived at around 9:30am to find the head teacher covering the year 4 class. He told me the class teacher had a problem with her car and would be late and explained that the lesson was on recount writing. The head teacher had dealt with messages from home and set the class the task of recounting their Christmas holiday. He handed me the plan with photocopied sheets for the lesson and set off for his office.
Before I could look over the children’s shoulders to examine their work, a child appeared asking for the spelling of ‘pies, as in mince pies’. Having written it in the spelling dictionary, another child got out of his seat, made a funny noise and smirked at me. Since this had not happened in the presence of the head teacher, I was quick to tell the offender to sit properly and be quiet; then perused the class. Needless to say the plan was almost incomprehensible with jargon, but we read a text recounting another class’s trip to a WWII museum in
Yorkshire. We discussed the evacuation and the children wrote a few sentences to accompany the year 5 class’s photographs of their trip. These pictures were very blurred and indistinct, but we could identify a group photo, taken in the hall, of the year 5s in evacuee costumes, the coach, WWII tableaus and what I labelled a Spitfire.
As the children filed out for morning break, a couple of boys informed me the aircraft was actually a Hurricane. I managed to mark and correct the sentences. A teacher arrived, with sheets for the maths lesson, introducing herself cheerfully as, “I’m the teacher with the car”. Collecting the class from the playground, we were joined by two boys whom I had not previously met, one of whom was reluctant to face the front and the other rather raucous.
After break, the children had a twenty minute reading session before maths sets. Late boy Number One refused to read and I told Number Two that I did not like the way he addressed me. He apologised. During the changeover, I overheard one of the outgoing girls telling the incoming group that I was a strict teacher. My maths set was the bottom group and involved completing two photocopied worksheets: one on converting figures to words and the other on rounding and adding two 2-figure numbers. Despite asking Number One to sit down, three times, he refused and threw a tennis ball, accompanying each request with a shouted “What?” or “I am sitting down”. It also transpired that Numbers One and Two, accompanied by a third boy, were not supposed to sit in the alcove at the back of the room, so I requested the teacher next door. She in turn sent for the class teacher (with the car), who removed Number One.
The set had a good knowledge, including the ability to spell some of the vocabulary and rounding to the nearest ten. Failing to notice that some of the number sentences were subtraction, as well as addition, I was corrected by one of the keen-eyed children. Unfortunately, I had already marked some of the ‘subtractions-as-additions’ correct, but later confessed to the class teacher, who, initially perturbed, said, “We have all done something like that”. At lunch time, I marked the maths sheets, most of which were completed, and pointed out a list of children who had been good. I was asked for details of the defiance incident, on the basis that it would be additional evidence in a meeting with parents. A bit later, I heard the class teacher reprimanding Number Two.
While I was signing out, the head teacher thanked me in passing.
Originally posted on Tuesday 4th January 2011