the perfect high school horror

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The opening sequence works us up,

With someone beautiful, alone

A million miles away from any help,

Just a phone and kitchen knives

To save them from a butchering.

They’ll die, that’s obvious.

We need to stick to formulae,

With shots of empty corridors, at night,

Someone running through a field of corn,

A boozy party full of seniors,

All these elements required.

And then we need the big reveal,

The slightly quirky, friendly type,

The funny one that none of us expect,

Always slayed by pretty girls

Who cry hysterically, with the sliding of each knife,

Ending the horror and ending the psycho’s ugly life.

It’s Halloween week so it feels like we should all be watching scary movies and reading Stephen King books. So, to get into the spirit of things Noah and I watched There’s Somebody in your House on Netflix.

It’s a typical high school slasher movie, and for that reason we loved it. It’s a format that has the potential to both scare the crap out of you and also make you laugh and even cringe a little.

But sometimes it’s the predictability of something that makes it so special. The fact that you know somebody is going to get murdered at the party makes it strangely comforting – in a sick kind of way.

Anyway, have a spooky week everyone – and make sure you don’t wander into a deserted high school corridor; it could be a fatal mistake!

Much Love

Rachel xx

the dream job: costume maker

white dress on mannequin beside white sewing machine
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The scissors glide through velvet cloth

Embroidered with a golden thred,

The picture of the Oscar actress pinned

Haphazardly, to the pinboard overhead.

She casts her smile, so Hollywood, so far

From this tiny workroom in a boring town.

No glitz of glamour here, but still

I feel the thread that holds us there,

Together as I let the needle run,

Pinning rich material to mannequins,

Until I’ve met the brief, a dress

Fit for queens or pirate’s daughters,

Perhaps a space cadet or fairy dream.

It takes it’s slow deliberate time,

But as it forms I know within my heart

That this is what I was meant to do.

I always wonder how many people out there actually do the job that they dream of. Not the job we tell people we wouldn’t mind doing, but the thing that is ridiculously outlandish; the job that most people would laugh at you for wanting to do.

My one would be a costume designer for the movies. I have always looked at the lavish costumes in movies like Titanic or Pirates of the Caribbean and thought how wonderful it must be to be involved in that.

And yes, there may be other more glamorous departments on a film set, but there is something very calming about cutting through material and sewing the patterns together. And knowing that your work is responsible for making the whole thing look so spectacular, I bet you get quite a high from that.

I’d just need to learn to sew and then I might be within a shot.

Much Love

Rachel xx

writing letters the old fashioned way

pink roses and letters on wooden surface
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Pens that dip into sapphire ink

And draw out lines so elegant,

Words that will not mean the same

In an email, or a text message

Or whatever app we’re using next.

Those crisp, cream envelopes

With paper folded perfectly,

Stamped with wax and finished with

A stamp and popped into a box,

Crimson red, a magic slot to other worlds

Where words are read and smiles are had

Or tears are spilled for broken love.

I always get so sad when I see or hear people not really knowing how to write a proper letter. I once had a younger friend who didn’t even seem to realise you could use the postal service for communication between friends; she seemed utterly shocked when I suggested we keep in touch by post.

I just think the art of letter writing is something that we need to hold onto. There is nothing more special than opening a card or letter with a real handwritten message inside. And this poem is my ode to the skill that is slowly dying out.

Much Love

Rachel xx

overjoyed at making it

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There is a finish line in sight,

We’ll stagger there, crying also

Laughing as we don’t know what to feel.

I think a rest is what is needed or

A short-ish stay in some facility

That can keep me safe and give me drugs

And get me ready for another round!

I made it!!! I made it to the end of my first half term as a qualified teacher! And what a roller coaster it has been.

I have had days when I have been buzzing and felt like I’ve made a real difference. Even if lessons went ‘badly’, I still felt like one kid might have got something positive from an hour in my room. And that is such a wonderful feeling.

However, there have also been days when I could barely see the road on my way home because I was crying so hard. And I’ve learnt that those ups and downs are normal and if I want to teach I need to accept that they will be a part of my life for my entire career.

I do have to remember that even if there are tough days, it can never be as bad as not caring. It was soul destroying to work on shop floor for 15 years, not feeling an ounce of passion for what I was doing. The only saving grace was that I could leave any stresses at the door at the end of my shift; now that is an impossibility.

For now, I am going to turn off my computer and rest for a couple of days – no planning and no marking at all. It is much needed as yesterday I needed to drive around a roundabout twice because I forgot where I was going and missed my exit.

Much Love

Rachel xx

classroom display boards

We spread our maps with ice cold tea

And singe the edges for a pirate map

To show the things we’ve learnt about

The pirate books like Treasure Island,

Jamaica Inn and other classics we have read.

Once dried we draw our ‘x’ in marker pen

And wonder what is buried there,

Before we stick them to the wall

With staple guns and stretchy globs

Of Blue Tack sure to peel away in days to come.

The finished picture always looks quite naff,

But work has gone in, independently,

And so we all stand back with pride,

Admiring what we have so undeniably achieved.

When I started my teacher training, one of the things that I was most excited about was getting my own room so that I could decorate. However, I forgot that I would probably be too busy to actually get around to doing that decorating.

I have been very lucky and I seem to have acquired two students who want to hang out in my room and do my display boards. And now that they have been prettied up I’m really excited again.

It’s made me remember my own school days when I used to love to help make art displays to go on the boards. And one of my favourite activities was to make treasure maps using tea bags and naked flames.

I think that my entire half term break is going to be spent thinking about ways I can work a treasure map into the current scheme of work. Do you think that Romeo and Juliet could have apirate in there somewhere?

Much Love

Rachel xx

say what?!

yellow green and pink plastic toy
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Those words that start with g’s

Or k’s and yet they sound like n,

Like gnome and knife and many other words

We’ve come to know and loathe.

It would be nice if we could spell

Those bloody words the way they sound.

As I was driving home from school tonight, the host on Radio 2 was talking about words that we have pronounced incorrectly because they are spelled in the most ridiculous way. I have been a bit sad this past week, but listening to some of the stories from people who wrote in made me proper belly laugh.

The was a young girl who worked in a bar and thought that the Schweppes tonic water was called Shush-weppy.

I once heard a girl at work call the place where the old paperwork is kept the are-chives (a little bit like the salad onion).

Another one from my own life was the lady at the sandwich bar I went to thinking that jalapenos was pronounced ja-loppa-noss.

I hear people stumbling over tricky words every day and I sometimes have to bite down onto my lip to stop myself from laughing. However, I do think that it shows just how playful we can be with our language and I think that is something that should be celebrated.

Much Love

Rachel xx

it started with a question

question marks on paper crafts
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It nestled in a universal womb,

The question we all feared to ask

But one girl raised her hand and spoke

With tender trepidation and

She raised those questions in the silence

Of a room all filled with doubter,

People too afraid to move.

And with those words that rolled

From her lips, so steady and assured,

She set the ball off rolling

Until it gathered speed and made

A bang for all the world to hear,

A firework flower for us to love each day.

I read on Twitter that every great idea starts with a question, and it really resonated with me as I scrolled. As someone who likes to hear ideas this is such a lovely thought. The thought that someone in my classroom might spring an idea that could change the world is kind of thrilling.

One of the saddest things about teaching is that our students can have these wonderful thoughts and passions instilled in them and we never know about it. We can see the excitement in the classroom but we don’t see it go further out into the world. We just have to live in hope that it does go out there and doesn’t die in transition.

It is so rare that teachers ever seem to hear if their lesson kicked off some fabulous idea. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you’ve inspired in just a small way?

Much Love

Rachel xx

this job is like bloody therapy

person in black pants and black shoes sitting on brown wooden chair
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Sitting in the comfy chair with tissues,

A whole box balanced on the table, ready for the tears

That are so certain to arrive, when we talk through

Which sore buttons they have pressed, revealing

All my little niggles, those fears that cling

To hearts and brains, with claws all causing pain

You never knew was there.

I have battled with my Year 10 class this last week and the outcome is that I feel like I am having to look inwards in a way that I haven’t done for some time. It has started to feel a bit like therapy.

Today I was observed by a senior teacher and it was with these Year 10s so I knew that it was going to be a bit of a car crash. I got through it but I was shaking with fear and in my feedback it appeared that the fear was noticeable.

I then cried on the senior teacher and spent half an hour asking her if I was getting the sack. I have been assured that this is not the case, but that has not decreased my stress level.

I have the same lingering fear that I did when I worked in hospitality and I became convinced that everyone was after me. That feeling of paranoia is horrible and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I have it under control but I am teetering on the edge of something scary.

Much Love

Rachel xx

going a bit lord of the flies

grass beside the sea
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Turning inwards on themselves

They thought that it was all on me

But gently pushing sights away

They have no choice but look inside

Let’s just hope the hate won’t tear

Them into shreds all wanting to

Be centre of attention and

The cause of every person’s pain.

So after my tough lesson with thirty fifteen year olds who are slowly starting to hate me, I’ve come to the realisation that I’m just going to have to play around with behaviour management techniques.

In the next lesson I am taking my son’s advice and I’m going to get them to turn the blame on each other. Every time one of them speaks out of turn, I will just stop. The lesson will go incredibly slowly but the nice ones will soon get really fed up with the ones who don’t know when to shut up.

Ironically, we are getting to the end of An Inspector Calls so it makes sense that the students learn to take a bit of collective responsibility for their learning. If one of them decides they are to be disruptive then they will be responsible for slowing the learning for everyone.

I just have to watch that they don’t go all Lord of the Flies on me and start killing each other. If that happens I may just have to slip out of the classroom and pretend that it has nothing to do with me.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the little scientist in my head

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She stands in the dusty corners of my brain,

White coat clad and clutching at her clipboard

Hoping to unpick the reasons why I do

Those things that cause the earthquakes in my life,

The moments when the ground can slip beneath

My feet in clumps of mud that should be firm.

She scribbles as she watches the undoing,

Never really passing judgement or

Deciding what could fix foundations needed for

A life just slightly smoother than

The one that houses my existence now.

I have been for CBT sessions before now and I had a terrible experience. I’ve been reminded of that experience this week because some of those trigger-y buttons have been pushed. There is a big difference nowadays in that I understand why I feel the way I do and so I can use my newfound coping skills to help me use yet more CBT skills. Wow, I sound like I am very broken when I put it that way.

Now, I feel like I’m a bit more able to calm myself down and approach my reactions in a more scientific light. And I actually find it really helpful to look at it scientifically, these days.

I do enjoy pretending that there is a little scientist in a white coat and holding a clipboard in my brain. She scribbles something down every time my feelings cause me to loose control and it has started to make me laugh.

It’s really interesting to see what kicks me off and what it looks like to someone who is completely impartial. She is sometimes a little bit annoying though; she has a tendency to make me feel really embarrassed about twelve hours after the event has already happened.

Much love,

Rachel xx