You know you are a real teacher when…

14 05 2013

Real Teacher

…you have had a full teaching day.

You have then worked continuously since you got home.

But when you look at the clock and discover that you have mysteriously jumped forward in time to 21:55, you simply think…

Hell yeah, I can get loads more done this evening!”

PS. I still hate coursework 🙂 But loved sending the kids off in style today with a presentation walking them through the last two years of their lives complete with loads of embarrassing photographs! Really positive vibe – took the edge off coming home to do SO MUCH marking!


Home Alone

11 05 2013


The picture attached is my current view of my living room floor.

I have just spent a very civilised afternoon marking coursework.

Now while this is not the most exciting way I could spend my Saturday, it is a necessary evil in my job and it is not as simple as it may appear. The marking required is more than a simple tick or cross, I need interpret what has been written so the task requires focus. It is best to do as much as you can in one hit without interuption.

I also have my own system. This involves having reruns of Friends on TV in the background. While this may appear counter productive I will explain the method behind my madness. I mark a piece of work then switch off my brain for 15min whilst watching Friends the mark another section and so on and so forth. My husband (known as FFOMC to regular readers), thinks this is stupid system. However the reason I approach marking in this way is the paperwork.

15mins of mindless TV means I kind of forget the previous piece of work and the comments I have written enough to avoid repetition on the forms I need to complete about each student. By marking a body of work in a single sitting the style of my writing and standards are consistent but I do not merge the work together in my mind.

It works for me but it does require me to be alone.

I sent FFOMC to watch football at a friends house. We were originally meant to go together but I was not very well anyway.

I think he may have felt a bit put out, but I got through loads of work! Feeling very virtuous. It is not yet complete but it no longer seems an insurmountable task and he will have enoyed some quality time with friend instead of having me sniping at him every time he asks an innocent question that disturbs my train of thought.

If you go into the woods today…

2 05 2013


In a far and distant land; beyond the valley of the shadow of coursework, you must venture beyond the border of insomnia and despair and there; you will find hope. The journey is trecherous and only those with an iron nerve and a steadfast devotion will pass through unscathed by the terrors of what seems to be an eternity of night.  But the lucky few who survive the journey, discover in the midst of the deepest shadows, a shining beacon of light known only as ‘The Dream’.

I am caught in the grip of my coursework induced hell. Bound fast, I have attempted to struggle against the shackles that restrain me. They bite into my wrists and I am powerless, totally at the mercy of my captors. There was a time when an arched eyebrow and a sharp rebuke had them cowering in terror but as soon as they spied an escape route, with an end in sight, they rejected those who sought to deliver them from evil, and ever since, chaos has reigned.

It is now a waiting game…

The end will come, and a new generation will rise from the ashes scattered by those who went before them. My hopes and prayers are solely focused on the premise that they will take today’s harsh lessons on board as they begin to build their own bright future.

This new band of vicious sprites and mischievous fairies declared battle today. For now they will spare my continued suffering and release me from torment as we share our quest of pursuing “The Dream”.

Thanks for all the red pen

25 04 2013

red pen

It is that dreadful point in the academic year when tantrums and tears are a daily occurance…and thats just the staff!

GCSE students throughout the country have just realised that they are GCSE students and that they have exams coming up in the VERY near future and they are starting to develop a sense of urgency that they have never experienced or entertained before. Their lack of planning and preparation is OF COURSE the responsibility of their teachers; who must now treat their urgent requests to re-read endless drafts of substandard coursework – hastly put together under extreme duress and at the last minute – as their top priority.

I was discussing my own education with a colleague a few days ago. We are both feeling a little demoralised by how much our students expect from us. Dont mistake my meaning; I do not mind giving up my time for my students and often stay up to 3 hours after my day is technically over, to do 1:1 work or to direct and advise whole groups. It is not that to which I object. But I struggle when students want me to think for them, endlessly extend deadlines to accomodate their social commitments or allow their last minute panic, (following two years of not pulling their weight relying on the fact that they can pull it together at the last minute) to adversly affect my own work/life balance which is sadly lacking.

I was never top of my class at school; but I valued my education and took it seriously. To be honest, I was a little fearful of my teachers and very anxious about getting in trouble. I would never have dreamt of waving a stack of paperwork at a member of the teaching staff while they ate their lunch, assume I could dictate when I would hand in a piece of work or demand that I needed help after school on a particular date and time. Unfortunately there are a growing number of students who think that they own their teachers and are entitled to their time both in and outside of the classroom.

When I was at school, I submitted drafts of essays and devoured all the comments written by my subject teachers. I realised that these were the clues that would help me progress and I reflected on why a particular piece of work received the grade it was given. Although I was not an angel, I recognised boundaries and realised that my teachers did not owe me anything nor were they responsibile for my failings.

With this in mind I wanted to say to all my subject teachers particularly my GCSE and A-Level teachers – who were awsome, “Thanks for all the red pen“.

Without it, I would not have achieved the results I did, and my options would have been increasingly limited. I would hate to think that I only achieved my grades because a teacher went above and beyond ignoring whether or not I deserved and had earnt the qualifications I have to my name.

So although the next few weeks are certain to be highly emotional, I really hope that my students will look back and thank me for all of my red pen marks on their work, my feedback, criticism and the time I have spend coaching them and more importantly; I hope they come to realise that however demoralised they may feel on a given day that these interventions are as painful for me as they are for them and they are not there to punish them but rather indications of how much I care and want them to achieve the grades that they are capablee of.

Marking Coursework Sucks!

12 04 2013


Today the title says it all 😦


Personal Best

29 03 2013

Bad grades

I try extremely hard not to let negativity to seep into my Blog posts – even on extremely bad day’s -but I must warn you that this post comes with the caution that I may appear a little more disgruntled than usual as today has been extremely ‘trying’. I am however writing this in a moment of calm contemplation and attempting to retain my sense of humour.

It is two days since the deadline for submission of coursework passed for my GCSE class and I have had a record breaking number of parents emailing me, phoning or simply popping in to inform me that I have no empathy for how hard thngs are for their kids, to let me know what a horrendous job I am doing and I am also vilified for my attempts to encourage students at risk of failure in their exams, to rethink sections of their work before it is sent to the examiner. I have found the bizarre response of these parents extremely motivational as I am sure you can imagine!

If I had one message for my students after today it would be “Seriously guys – MAN UP!” My own mum would have crucified me for this kind of needy behaviour and would never have attempted to blame my teachers for mistakes I had made.

However this has all resulted in an earth shatteringly brilliant idea for a staff league table I would like to start.

We need to track a number of things across the year:

The member of staff who:

Spends the most time correcting and helping students redraft work

Is first to make a student cry

Receives all completed coursework by the deadline

Waits the longest to receive all completed coursework

Has the most ridiculous parental complaints

Has largest number of parental complaints

There is so much I could add but when I have a completed list I would like to devise appropriate “rewards” for the “winners”.

E.g. If you spend hours marking a student’s work you should perhaps achieve some sort of additional qualification yourself.

If you get all of your coursework back first you should be given an extension task to challenge you further by marking other people’s coursework.

If you have the highest number of parental complaints you should have the opportunity to complain about poor parenting.

These are just thoughts but I feel that some sort of formal process may make these days a little more tolerable.

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5 03 2013


In my role as a Drama teacher, I have had the dubious pleasure of marking coursework over the last month.

After 20 almost identical responses to the same stimulus I started to become frustrated with the limited voabulary of my students. Every student in my class described the posture of their character as “hunched” which was my blinking example! (I want to use a “stronger” word but it seems inappropriate in a post about education and use of language)

I am appealing to anyone with even the most basic grasp of the English language to help me devise a list of key words to do with the use of the following things:

Facial Expression, Movement, Voice (language & sound), Posture and Atmosphere.

In the brief time I have devoted to this task this evening I have come up with the following:

Facial Expression: grimace, wince, frown, blush, smile, wink, snarl, set jaw, raised eyebrow(s), glare, stare, contorted, screwed up, cringe, recoil, glower, puckered brow, mope, beam, grin, smirk, twinkle, sparkle, sneer, knotted, twisted, squirm, flinch, shrink, shy away, cower

Movement: jerk, twitch, kick, flinch, jump, run, skip, wiggle, shimmy, shake, limp, quiver, shudder, strut, stroll, wander, meander, somersault, leap, skulk, slither, slide, yank, tug, pull, wrench, tweak, jolt, spasm, convulse, tremble, contract, lash out, jolt, thrust, baulk, draw back, bound, soar, shoot, jig, sprint, jog, scuttle, scamper, dart, dash, scurry, prance, twist, shiver, wobble, vibrate, hobble, shuffle, bend, floppy, wilted, flacid, quake, vibrate, tremor, palpitation, swagger, march, parade, amble, saunter, ramble, dive, hurdle, lurk, loiter, creep, prowel, glide, skip, slide, snatch, heave, haul, heave, push, ripple.

Voice: stammer, stutter, slur, bark, purr, cry, wail, howl, grunt, gasp, shout, whisper, yell, scream, drone, monotone, intone, immitate, thunder, falter, hesistate, speech immpediment, rumble, mumble, murmur, wheeze, pant, puff, sigh, whine, rumble, hesitate, fade, tail off,

Posture: slumped, slouched, hunched, upright, tense, drooping, wilting, flabby, floppy, curved, bent, arched, stooped, erect, straight, vertical, horizontal,

Atmosphere: chaotic, frenzied, calm, triumphant, serene, celebratory, scary, spooky, intense, electric, intimidating, horrifying, peaceful, relaxed, rushed, confused, sickening, gruesome, shocking, disordered, muddled, messy, untidy, hectic, hyperactive, harried, hysterical, posessed, tranquil, still, composed, unruffled, victorious, exltant, passionate, extreme, severe, thrilling, stimulating, threatening, frightening, menacing, nerve-wracking,

Please help me to devise a more comprehensive list and help to restore my faith in language skills. There must be some people who still have a good command of the English language. For what it is worth; I myself far from perfect, my spelling is horrific and I make frequent grammatical errors but I do check my work and make changes when possible improvements are identified and I would like to think that if occasson demanded I would be able to express myself well using the written word.

I'm part of Post A Day 2013