a hazy prom night memory

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A hazy prom night memory

That drifts past on those June time winds

As sweet sixteens shuffle up for photographs

In front of limos, arms around a girlfriend who

Will be forgotten in two years, but now

This night is all we have. The music loud,

Thump-thumping as we enter jazzed up gyms,

Once filled with scents of sweat, instead

We are all blinded with the disco lights

And arches of balloons, the sneaked in vodka

Already warming up our youngster veins.

We will remember this for life, this love,

We’ll find the Polaroids in kitchen drawers

And reminisce in thirty years, when youth is gone,

But still that dress hangs in my room

A daughter will want to wear it soon.

Our school were having their leavers’ prom last night, and before I left I popped my head into the hall to see what it looked like. It was so beautiful it actually took my breath away.

Noah left school last year and the school decided not to hold the prom because of COVID. It made me so sad that he was missing out on something that feels like a rite of passage. I was desperate to be the proud mother, waving him off as he got into his limo in a smart tuxedo.

We are lucky in this country that we have sixth form college after school and this means that he will get another opportunity to attend a prom next summer (so I will also get my moment).

It also made me think back to my own prom. I left school 21 years ago so the idea of a prom was still pretty new in England. I remember it being very exciting that we got to dress up and dance the night away at the Hilton Hotel no less.

But it was probably the house party afterwards that was most memorable. About half the year were in attendance and everyone was drinking so it got pretty messy. I seem to remember someone being sick out of the upstairs window.

I hope that the kids at the prom last night had a blast and that they will have fond memories of dancing to Love Shack and being sick in their friend’s mum’s flower bed. It has to be done, doesn’t it?

Much Love

Rachel xx

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

the reading slump

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The words all mix together like

A lumpy soup, luke warm and sad

They don’t excite the way they should.

The pages turn so slowly with

A painful wait between the chapters

Not sure these words are understood.

I’m in a dreaded reading slump at the moment. I have two books on the go and I’m not enjoying either of them and it is one of the worst feelings that a reader can possibly suffer.

Diving into a book gives me release from a world that is sometimes not very nice, so when I’m stuck in a bad book I feel like a door has been closed to that other world. I am quite literally locked out of the place that will make me feel better.

There is the argument that I could just put the book down and start something new, but I fall into the camp that hates giving up on a book. I do occasionally DNF a book, but it hurts my soul to do that and I would rather soldier on miserably.

I am into the last 30 pages of one of the books so I am almost there and I can’t wait to get to start another. It feels like the final few miles of an ultra marathon; not very pleasant at the moment, but it will feel worth it when I post my star rating on Goodreads.

And then there’s the fact that the quality of a book is so subjective. I’m slaving away through this novel while others are lapping it up and loving every word. I wish I could like everything, but alas, being human involves having likes and dislikes and going through little dips where reading feels like a chore.

Much Love

Rachel xx

tying the knot

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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

how honest should i be?

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How honest should I be when asked

How do you feel or what do you think?

Do you let it all out in a river of bile

Or hold some back so as not to burn bridges?

Should I get angry, or play it real cool?

The last thing I want is to be made a fool.

I got an exit interview questionnaire today and the questions were basically asking me why I have chosen to leave the school and what the school might be able to do better in the future.

I did smile as I read the questions because I know that the Rachel from five years ago would have had a couple of drinks and filled it out with unfiltered honesty. These days my approach to ‘telling the truth’ is much more reserved as I realise that it’s not helpful to burn every bridge once it’s been crossed just so I can feel like I’ve made my point.

I did tell the truth about the kids though, and I’m glad I did. There are days when I don’t even feel particularly safe leaving my room because the kids are so aggressive and nasty and I think that’s a really sad situation.

And I think that the school probably need to know that there are members of staff feeling that way.

Honesty is nearly always the best policy – but you should probably give a few home truths here and there. Just down burn that bridge down as you go.

Much Love

Rachel xx

dark academia

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The boys wear pinstripe suits

While girls read books in dusty attics,

Skulls are balanced on their books

And deathly thoughts will occupy

Their writings in those leather books

Until one dies in ghastly ways.

I went to visit an English teacher friend today and I was obsessed with her bookcases. They were filled with highbrow texts, arranged in arty ways so that the shelving units looked more like beautiful structures.

The titles were invariably written by women who ended up killing themselves in fits of passion, which instantly makes them more interesting to study – because everyone loves a hysterical woman.

And balanced amongst the books was a phrenology head and a human skull (not real, I hope). It reminded me of the dark academia novels that I went through a stage of loving. I could imagine my friend writing in a dusty loft, using a quill and a leather bound book.

I now feel like I have to work on my own book shelves as mine feel comparatively trashy – filled with thriller novels, written by women for women and all with the word ‘girl’ in the title.

Does anyone have a human skull that they wouldn’t mind me taking off their hands?

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

perhaps i should interview before every half term?

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The sweaty palms, desperately wiped on trousers

As the handshake approaches, and questions

Pile upon questions and you try to pretend

That you work well under pressure,

And all that other crap you promise

But know you’ll never do, but how good

Does it feel when the adrenaline has gone

And the flat line begins.

I have found that I generally don’t seem to enjoy the one week half term holidays because I spend the whole time stressed out. The first half is spent worrying about all the things I did wrong over the last term. Then I hit Wednesday and I start to worry about everything bad that will happen on my return.

It doesn’t make for a relaxing time.

However, this time around, I’m on my first day and I already feel pretty chilled. It’s probably a combination of having a bit of sun, knowing that I can free wheel into the final few weeks, and the pressure of the interview being off.

Whatever the reason, I need to repeat it more often because holidays can sometimes be more stressful than working weeks. I don’t know how well it will go down with schools if I decide to go for an interview once every ten weeks – but I could be onto something.

I’m going to be the teacher that has to change job ever 10-12 weeks just so that I can enjoy the come down after an interview.

Much Love

Rachel ss

why oh why oh why?

Why do I duck and dive

When I wish I could stand

Firm in the knowledge

I have done it all right

Maybe I wavered

But at least I was nice.

It’s funny how you keep your head down and you don’t notice any of the cracks around you, then you step out of line and suddenly it’s all so glaring you can’t quite believe you didn’t see it before.

I’m still struggling to let my line manager know that I’m leaving (she knows, but we haven’t had that conversation yet). The thing is, I’m seeing some of the nastiness that just washed over me and it has made me feel really on edge.

I was almost sick today, because I got so nervous about speaking to the head of department. The look that she gave me in the corridor actually physically hurt me, and I think she would see me as ridiculous for feeling that way.

But there are those in the world that are tough and run departments, and then there are softies like me. I just think that we all need to learn to rub along together nicely.

Much Love

Rachel xx