Stage Combat

27 11 2013

Bullying and Harrassment in the Workplace

Every year in November I teach the entire year 9 cohort unarmed stage combat.

It is two full days of slaps, punches, eye gouging and falling to the floor.

While I love teaching this workshop it is intense and very noisy.

This year I have an extra problem. At four and a half months pregnant, apparently it is not advisable for me to approach the next two days with my usual gusto and enthusiasm – and definitely no falling to the floor! The two fellas who help me out are extremely enthusiastic but they are not specialists. However they are very protective and looking forward to throwing some punches on my behalf tomorrow.

So in the words of Drowning Pool: Let the bodies hit the floor – as long as none of them are mine!

“Did I get it right Miss?”

22 11 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the end of my pretty mad week a yr9 boy bounced up to me in my last lesson of the day.

He reached into his pocket and produced a packet of milky buttons and a packet of chocolate buttons and with a beaming face asked me, “Did I get it right Miss?”

Seeing an opportunity for mischief and not fully grasping his question I took the packets and walked away exclaiming “Ohhhh, these are my favourites at the minute!”

As I grinned and offered the packets back to the still beaming child he repeated his question, “So, did I get it right Miss?”

I was a little confused and asked “Did you get what right sunshine?”

“Well you said that the baby is making you want buttons at the minute. I couldnt remember what type so I bought you one of each with my paper round money. One packet is for you and one is for Lumpy.”

In truth I dont remember sharing this information with my class so it must have been an aside at some point. But the fact that this 12 year old boy had not only taken it on board but gone home and decided to spend his hard earned pocket money on such a thoughtful gift has really moved me.

Even in the worst weeks working in education, there is always a child who you have reached, who in turn will reach back to you at a time when you most need a reminder of why one of the most rewarding careers available is in teaching.

Happy Friday xx

17th October teacher strike: An open letter to parents

16 10 2013

On 17th Oct, along with my fellow teachers, I will be on strike. Public oinion may not always be for teachers but I found this great open letter to parents that I wanted to share. It is easy to forget in the midst of the disruption and politics, that teachers not only know what is in the best interests of their students, but care about fighting for education.

Equus altus

Dear Parents

I’ve taken some time out to write this open letter to you because I believe it’s important to let you know why I am striking with my fellow teachers on Thursday 17th October.

Firstly, let me apologise for the inevitable inconvenience this action will cause many of you. Teachers do recognise – partly because many of them are parents themselves – that having to find childcare for the day or take a day off work to look after your children is a burden. That’s why taking strike action is always a very last resort. Believe me, none of us are particularly keen on losing a day’s pay either.

Many of you will have read in the press or heard on the news that teachers are taking strike action over changes to their pay and pensions. Often, this is shrouded in an air of disapproval, almost as if…

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Lop-sided pigtails and wonky glasses

5 10 2013


Last week something very unusual happened to me – I was sent home sick from my Saturday job.

I returned today feeling a little bit grotty and exhausted from a tiring week at school.

By my last class of the day I was already longing for home when I sat in front of the beaming faces of the 4-6year old group.

They squirmed sitting on the floor in front of me struggling to contain their excitement about regaling me with updates of their busy social schedules. I was about to call time on the “news” section of my lesson when I selected a little girl with the most serious  expression possible, contrasting with the fabulously lop-sided pigtails and wonky glasses that kept sliding down her nose forcing her to push them back into position every few minutes.

I have a soft spot for this type of child because I myself was once one of them. I could not compete with the pristine, blond haired, blued eyed girls whose mothers knew how to tease their hair into an immaculate French braid every morning, I was always a little unpolished, but like the little girl in front of me this afternoon I was very earnest.

When the rest of the group had finally settled and stopped what appeared to be attempts to polish to floor with their bottoms, she spoke.

“I just wanted to say that I am so glad you are better. We missed you so much. I love Drama; it’s my favourite because you’re the teacher.”

I only had a second to well up before 12 little 4-6 year old bodies launched themselves at me for a group hug to show their appreciation.

For the remainder of the lesson I did not feel the slightest bit grotty and wore a massive massive smile.


Self Evaluation

23 09 2013

evaluation 1Ahhh its that time of year again.

I must complete a dozen forms to justify my existance and beg to move up the payscale.

Apparently it is not sufficient to look at the grades achieved by my students, the countless drop in observations completed of my practice throughout the year, my contribution at department, faculty and whole school level or even my commitment to new whole school policy and practice.

One might think that consideration would be given to the fact that I ran the department for a year, completed the paperwork – useful and useless alike, managed a number of supply staff, set cover work, led the team through an Ofsted inspection.

But despite all the student voice activities, the success of my summer production, the organisation of readers for the carol service and entertainment for the outgoing head teachers retirement party consisting of original pieces of drama written specially for the occassion; I must REFLECT of the past year and EVALUATE what I learnt, the progress I made, how I could improve, what new training I would benefit from and what would be a good next step.

I question what else I can bring to the table. But nevertheless I must work it out and commit it to writing in triplicate!

Apparently a Tony the Tiger “I’m Great!” will not suffice – I know I checked.

I am all for professional development – but at what stage am I “developed enough”?

Day 1

3 09 2013


After 5 glorious weeks off today was the first day of school.


It promises to be a very long year.

Start of Term

2 09 2013

Back 2 School

I stumbled accross the following words of wisdom. I do not know the original source of these words but they seem apt:


“Twas the night before school started and all through the town

All the teachers were groaning…a disturbing sound!

By 10 they were all wasahed and tucked up in bed,

where the memories of children filled them with dread!

New pencils, newfolders, new registers too.

New classes, new grey hairs their anxiety grew.

The parents just giggled when they heard of this fright,

“You’ve have 6 weeks off. They’re all yours, so tough shite!!

I love it and feel that it acurately sums up my current mood as I am due to start back at school after a wonderful break tomorrow.

To anonomyos author, I take my hat off to you for capturing the spirit of the moment so completely.

And to all teachers everywhere – have a great start of term and a wonderful & productive academic year!

Les Mis Teaching Parody

22 07 2013


A while ago I mentioned a little writing project I was working on.

Tonight I can finally reveal that I was re-writing the lyrics to Les Mis famous song, “At the End of the Day” as a teaching parody to be performed at the head-teacher’s leaving do. The performance tonight went realy well and the jokes seemed to be well received by my colleagues.

I am really pleased with the performance of my small team – only 5 of us performed though we were attempting to represent the entire staff voice.

My lyrics are below and if you want to sing along, the karoke version can be found here:


Les Mis workers

Les Miserable – Teaching Parody

ALL: At the end of the year the head teacher’s retiring. And it’s clear that this college will not be the same. But before you go away, there is plenty that we want to say, you are lucky to escape the future of teaching. Bet you’re glad that you’re leaving.

Teacher 1: At the end of the day we all feel overloaded. Just remember your thoughts as a new NQT. AFL, PSHE and now it’s SMSC. Raise your hand if you agree its C.R.A.P.

ALL: Brings us all close to crying

Teacher 2: And don’t get us started on all of the marking. This new bloody system is driving us mad. 30 hours that I spent, marking books for all of year 7, you must tell them what went well and advise them how to do better, I need to get away, at the end of the day.

Teacher 3: At the end of the day each child is different. And you need to consider each one of their needs. Thirty children in each class, who need guidance and teaching and learning but despite the work that we do it’s never enough.

ALL: To deserve an outstanding.

Teacher 4: Have you heard that Ofsted might come in today? Pray in your lessons they don’t come your way. I trust that your folder is ready to hand and your lessons are planned for all of their stay.

Girls: And the boss he never knows how much time we all spend on our laptops. And we don’t have any time for our family at home. They forget what we look like!

ALL: At the end of the day we don’t have any money and our buildings are coming apart at the seams. What we spend is ill advised like a roof for the path between buildings, while the ceilings back inside are leaking all over the children & we cannot afford to pay, at the end of the day.

Teacher 5: Remember when planning your enterprise trips, it’s important for you to look at the risks, but coach bookings are handled by Joan not on your own & that takes the piss.

Teacher 1: Got a letter this morning, its a real nasty business. I forget to take registers 2, 3 and 4. Is there anyone else here who’s worse than C Driver  I’ll bet you a fiver, they’ll show me the door.

Teacher 2: Our students cannot read or write and their books are quite a fright, we need a whole school plan of action. We’ll introduce a learning loo, so that staff here can learn too while they do a number two. Stroke of genius yes my friends working life just never ends even when you do a poo.

ALL: At the end of the day we don’t care about Ofsted. They came and they went and we’re still only GOOD. All the training and planning and prep – and still no one think’s of the children yes it’s easy to forget that that’s why we’re here. Year after year.

Teacher 1: It’s my fault that this year there was no school production. My line managers off and I’m finding it tough. But you were there at the year 9 performance, the candle light soiree – is that not enough?

Teacher 4: (to Assistant Principal 1) At the end of the year you will get a great office.

Teacher 3: (to Assistant Principal 2) I cannot believe you just gave it to him.

ALL: While you’re sunning yourself on a beach or swanning around on a cruise ship, think of us here on the breach, no let up for even a second and we’re all feeling jealous of you – and the things that you’ll do.

Teacher 5: I do not understand at all, the plasma flat screen on the wall, of your office there in Kingston. Do you not have enough to do? Please believe me we all do we have no time to watch TV. Even at the end of term all the children still must learn we cannot show them DVD’s.

ALL: We will think of you fondly long after your gone

Retirement starts today.

Right JO On your way!

Final public performance of the academic year pending

18 07 2013


I have two and a half working days left this academic year. Unbelievably, unlike so many of my colleagues, I am still not winding down.

I have my final public performance on Monday – the night before we break up for summer. This is the performance I am perhaps most concerned about as I will not just be on the sidelines directing, I am also performing.

The assumption of many colleagues that I am immune to performance anxiety and nerves is misguided, especially at such a public event and to be honest it is a little on the knuckle and could go either way for me. However as I always say to my students, the best drama is that which starts with the phrase, “this might not work but…”

So for one final time this year I am back in rehearsals, dripping with sweat and almost ill with exhaustion, ready to tackle the last challenge of a demanding but rewarding academic year.


Flowers and Tears

16 07 2013


This evening brought with it some lovely flowers, (pictured above), and a lot of tears.

Second (and last), night of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and my students were bloody amazing!

For students of 13/14 years old to master Shakespeare is impressive enough but to do so and perform in such an assured and professional manner in only 6 weeks is nothing short of amazing.

After the show they did their thank you bit and invited myself and my colleague onto the stage. I had been a bit tearful during their final song but had managed to compose myself, my colleague had tears streaming down her face.

They presented us with beautiful flowers and cards and matching butterfuly necklaces. We were declared Queen’s of the fairies and the head teacher even made a short speech expressing how impressed he was with our wonderful students.

But for both of us it was bitter-sweet as it is our last project together as my dear friend is due to leave at the end of the school year. I am devastated to lose her and in total denial that she is actually going.

I have loved every second we have worked together and feel she has made me a better teacher.

Despite our shared melancholy about being seperated after 3 years of my most successful working partnership ever – we are going out on a high.

Emmie – working with you has been “A DREAM” xx