a change is as good as a holiday

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Fresh scenes

For tired eyes

They reinvigorate

The waning soul

And makes time fly

In the mortal’s eye.

I went on my first little school trip today and it was so nice to get out of school and just see something different.

Because I have trained during a COVID year and it was still difficult at the beginning of this school year, I have not had the opportunity to go on any trips. This one wasn’t a proper trip, but at least I got out of the mad house that is our school.

Our Year 7 cohort are on camp this week and the first half went down to the camp on Monday and came back today. So, it was my job to get on a coach with the new group of students, have lunch at the camp and then go back on the coach with the first group.

I was only off the bus for about an hour and a half but it was still so nice to see the kids running around the woods and having fun. I couldn’t be spared from my department for the whole camp, but I would definitely like to go on a camp one year, and stay for the whole thing.

However, my day out of the office has really helped me feel a bit refreshed and ready to go for the second half of the week. A change is definitely as good as a holiday.

Much Love

Rachel xx

tying the knot

wedding preparation
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They ran from palace walls

Into the forest where

Unruly beings cast their spells

And heard through rustling verdant leaves

The sound of clanging wedding bells.

I’m teaching A Midsummer Night’s Dream to my Year 7s at the moment and I love hearing their take on the language and what it might mean. Some are way off the actual meaning, but even when it’s wrong, I love that they are thinking about the word choices and what they could possibly mean.

I think that it’s also interesting to get their thoughts on some of those bigger themes that Shakespeare tackles; the themes that keep his work relevant some 400 years after he was writing.

Today I was reading through their books and looking at some of the predictions that they were making as to what they think might happen as the story continues. Worryingly, there are a lot of them that seem to think that the characters are all going to be murdered. Perhaps they are getting confused with Macbeth?

I did notice another slip of the letters in one book. A girl had written that she thought Lysander and Hermia would kill Demetrius and Egeus and then they would ‘be free to exchange their vowels’.

Remember that if you are getting married and want to go against tradition there is always the option to exchange your consonants. Something to think about if you are planning your nuptials.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the funny things they say

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I’m thinking of starting a little series on my blog called ‘the funny things they say’ because there are times when students say things that just make my day that bit brighter. Normally it’s something silly they’ve said and I end up feeling really bad for laughing, but personally I think it’s one of the highlights of this very tricky profession.

Yesterday I was teaching a Year 8 class who are quite bright but a little bit too bubbly sometimes. I enjoy their energy but sometimes it can boil over and become a bit annoying.

Anyway, it was a warm day and I was still tired from my run so I was trying my very best to keep my energy up. I was teaching them about refugees and the difference between people smuggling and people trafficking.

We had established that traffickers make a lot of money out of their illegal activities and then we were trying to get to a working definition for the smugglers.

We started off by working out that trafficking might be worse because people become trapped when they get sucked into that world. However, I think I might have made them them think that smuggling was therefore an OK activity.

One girl tentatively raised her hand and said ‘So, trafficking is like a really bad business, and smuggling is more like a hobby?’.

I had to pause slightly because I wasn’t expecting anyone to describe people smuggling as a hobby. I knew the behaviour at my school isn’t perfect but I didn’t think that the kids believed that hobbies could include crochet, watercolours and people smuggling.

You might want to give it a go as apparently it’s fun…

Much Love

Rachel xx

i’m a teacher, what’s your super power?

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We round up thirty kids each day

And fill their heads with dreams, ideas

And thoughts of what the future holds.

We shape their lives and send them out

Feeling strong and ready for

The jobs, the loves, the ups and downs,

Just hoping that we did it well.

My mentor at school gave me a gift to say well done on getting my new job. In the package was a mug that said ‘I’m a teacher, what’s your super power?’ And it made me realise that actually it is a bit of a super power.

Who else can control thirty unruly children, fill them with knowledge and confidence and then send them out into the world where they will get very little support?

When I started teaching, I thought that the fact that I am emotional and sensitive was going to be my downfall. I thought that the kids would walk all over me and I would just spend all day crying in the stationery cupboard.

But I’ve found that being a bit of a softy is actually a strength. Students appreciate that softer side, especially the ones who are sensitive like me. I’m sure there are students that hate me and just think I’m a bit of a drip – but I’ve also learnt that you can’t win them all.

As long as I am catching some of them, and making their lives just a little bit easier then I really do feel like a superhero.

Much Love

Rachel xx

now for the hard bit

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It’s pleasure and pain,

They go hand in hand,

You can never have fun

Without the sting of defeat,

You can never take the win

Without first being beat.

I got the job!!!! Which is all well and good, but now I have to do the really hard part: handing in my notice. I am the worst at having uncomfortable conversations and tomorrow is going to be full of them.

It made me think of a yoghurt advert we had over here in the UK where the tagline was that you can’t have pleasure without pain. You saw a woman enjoying a low fat yoghurt while a man was running around in the background being chased by bees.

The idea was that you could enjoy something delicious and some other poor fool would suffer the pain.

Oh wish that could apply to real life (not that I want to wish pain on anyone else). But this conversation with the boss is going to be cringe-worthy. I’m halfway through my rollercoaster ride and I’m just about to go into the huge loop that terrifies everyone.

For the second day running, wish me luck.

Much Love

Rachel xx

here we go, no backing out now

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The seats are slightly damp,

The person who just vacated, sweating

Sticking to the plastic cover

And the bar’s pulled down

With no way out, no screaming now

Will help as the cogs begin to turn.

The ride has started and

The people down below will wave

Oblivious of the panic setting in.

So it’s the eve of my interview and it feels like the bar has been pulled down on a rollercoaster and it’s clicked into place; now there is no way out. I will interview tomorrow and, as is the way with teaching positions, I will probably know the outcome before I have left the building.

It feels a bit like I’ve tapped the first domino in a domino run and there is no stopping them all going down. There is no guarantee that I will get the job but I have started something that I can’t go back from too easily.

When I’m on a rollercoaster, I love that feeling of knowing there is no way out until you reach the other end; the thrill seeker comes out in me and I just adore it. However, this makes me feel sick. I’m trying to reframe it and think of it as an exciting adventure – but the truth is, I’m terrified.

Bar down, here we go!

Much Love

Rachel xx

oh, the awkward conversations

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I used to get so nervous in certain situations that I’d start to struggle to follow conversations and my teeth would chatter as though I was really cold. This hasn’t happened for probably three years – and it happened today.

The application that I filled out yesterday, came good. I received a request to interview this afternoon, but they also contacted my Head of Department for a reference. I really didn’t expect that to happen so quickly and it was a little bit uncomfortable when she came to talk to me.

I was then told that it may be a good idea to go and see the head teacher so that I’m being transparent with everyone. By this time, I was going into panic mode and the teeth were chattering. My friend literally had to walk me up the stairs and give me a pep talk on the landing so that I didn’t faint, be sick or just run away and never come back.

But the point is, I did it. I was brave and the head teacher actually said she rated the fact that I had come straight over to speak to her.

I didn’t need her to say anything positive about me, but it has made me reflect on the changes in my life over the past five years. When you are drinking you are not on the same plane as everyone else and the social and professional mistakes you make can be epic.

Those situations that once were baffling, are still really scary, but I realise I can do them and I come out the other end looking and feeling like a half decent human.

So, really I just wanted to toot my own horn and say that I wore my big girl pants and did something brave. And it felt pretty cool (although I’m emotionally wiped out right now).

Much Love

Rachel xx

feeling too attached for my own good

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The bonds are like the rubber bands

I wrap around the homework bundles

Cutting into paper edges, tight

Uncomfortable but also comforting

A paradox, if ever you have felt that way?

But sometimes they must snap away

Stinging skin but making room

To breathe and be myself again.

I don’t know about other people but, I get really attached to places once I get involved and it really surprises me how strong those bonds are once they have been wrapped around me.

I have a job possibility that has just come up, really close to home so there would be no need to drive. It is also a nice small school and the behaviour is much better than where I am.

I asked Noah what I should do and I didn’t even manage to finish my sentence and he had said ‘go for it’. That tells me that maybe this could be a good move – don’t forget I drive for an hour a day and petrol has gone up by over 50% since I started my job last year.

I wish that I didn’t have this need to please people who probably don’t care all that much about me. I really do like the people I work with but I have no best friend or impending promotion, so why am I procrastinating? Why do I find this so bloody hard? Do you feel unbearably attached to workplaces or teams when there’s little to keep you there?

Much Love

Rachel xx

a gentle dig that hurts so much

a red heart painted on a white wall
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It’s hard to believe that the nastiest part

Of my long Monday took place outside

The grotty Year 10 toilets where a throng

Of teenage girls shot me horrible looks

And giggled behind hands as I passed.

I’m a teacher, for God’s sake

And yet still my heart takes a silent beating

As I pass with my head low, wondering

Why I came back to school for more

Of this horrid abuse, that most fear for life.

Today felt really bad because of one moment caused by a girl who is fast becoming my worst nightmare. I lost my Year 10 class because she was so unpleasant to me and she obviously blames me for the fact that she has been moved to a class where she is apart from her friends.

She has obviously gone to her friends and told them all about how awful I am and when I was passing them as they were queuing for the toilet one of her friends gave her a nudge and nodded in my direction. This girl sneered at me and said ‘ugh’ as though I was something horrible that she had stepped in.

Now, I know I’m an adult and I’m probably being a bit snowflakey, but I felt like somebody had stabbed me in the heart and it genuinely made me feel low for the entire day.

I have been told that my skin will get thicker but it still hurts so hard. I know that it stems from my upbringing where I knew that I would always be wrong and nobody would believe me. Now that I’m an adult I still fear that my boss will believe a fourteen year old over me.

It’s amazing how the things we are told as children can shape us so totally as adults. My colleagues think this girl is an idiot and yet still that fear that they believe her over me is so real.

More therapy, anyone?

Much Love

Rachel xx

the school dance show

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Lights down as curtains swish

As parents hush each other, rustling

Their programmes handed out

By eager twelve year olds, at the entrance

Smiles and welcomes to the show

And then the music starts, as lines

Of leotarded girls step out

With canes and top hats in their hands,

A Year 11 sings New York New York

And parents tap along to trumpet sounds

The final notes and jazz hands wave

While parents jump to tired feet

Applauding all the smiling kids.

We had a school dance show today and the kids were so excited to tell me all about it. I didn’t stay to watch but I was leaving the school just as they were all coming in at about 6ish.

A girl has already showed me a video from last night’s performance and it was bloody brilliant. She allowed me to watch their rendition of New York New York, complete with top hats and canes and a full live band.

I knew that they were also doing a number from the Matilda musical and a Bollywood dance and it was lovely to see them all so excited about performing. Kids can sometimes lack any motivation to do anything so I feel all warm and fuzzy when I see those that have put all that effort in and are really putting themselves out there and getting involved.

I bumped into three of my favourite Year 7s in the car park as I was leaving, and they were all dressed up in their scruffy school uniforms and their hair was all back combed. They came running up to me and asked if they looked like Revolting Children as that was the song from Matilda that they were dancing to.

I told them they looked like the kind of children I would never want to teach and they ran off laughing, satisfied with my answer.

Well done to all the kids out there who just give it a go. You rock.

Much Love

Rachel xx