kids just don’t understand

It would be nice if they could grasp

The enormity of words that roll

From tongues so barbed they hardly know

That deaths can flow from words like that.

One day they’ll turn and looking back

They’ll wish they’d held it back,

Regret the hurt they caused,

But now it’s just our fault, the adults

Who tell them what to do.

I made the biggest faux pas that a teacher can make today; I cried in front of a student.

They had pushed me all lesson and then rather than just letting me decompress at the end they came to my desk and continued to tell me what an awful person I was.

I don’t know what happened but the barrage of negativity reminded me of all the horrible things my mum would say to me once she had kicked out my dad. I did the exact same thing I did then and just covered my face and tried to block it out.

Unfortunately, this student was very much like my mother and didn’t realise that this was her cue to stop. I was eventually rescued by another teacher who thought that I was a student getting ganged up on.

This set in motion my horrible voice that tells me how evil I am and how I deserve to die and so I was in tears for about an hour, completely incapable of regaining control of my emotions.

I got there in the end and calmed down but I have been questioning myself all afternoon and evening. Am I really a horrible person? Do I go out of my way to pick on people? I hope the answer is ‘no’, but I could be wrong.

It has made me think about teenagers and their ability to empathise though. I tried so hard and these kids seem so unaware of the effects of their own behaviour. I do wonder if there will be a day when they look back and cringe. I just hope it’s not too cringey when we have a lesson next week!

Much Love

Rachel xx

the school trip

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Heads counted as we climb aboard the coach

That already faintly smells of vomit,

Carpet seats, stained with Ribena

And windows smeared with sticky fingerprints.

Tommy feels sick before we reach the motorway

And Miss decides we should have a sing-a-long

To help us pass the time, and when we arrive

We queue for the museum, craning necks

To see the dino bones, soaring overhead.

We press our noses to the cases made of glass,

Looking at the model dodo, the giant fossils

And the rock that came from space, incongruous

In its London home. And homeward bound

We sing again, cradling gift shop buys;

Pencil sharpeners stamped with logos and

Someone bought a starfish, dried and crispy,

Every person wants to touch, excited at

The thought of home, of crispy pancakes

And safety in our rooms while teachers drink

The wine they saved, knowing that this day

Would warrant just a glass or two!

Because I trained to be a teacher while we were going through COVID lockdowns and restrictions, I have still not had the opportunity to go on a school trip. And I am dying to go on one.

I have already decided that I will be going on the trip to New York and at least one skiing trip. It appears that teaching is going to be my key to a bunch of free holidays. It’s just a pity that I will need to take 200 kids with me!

Much Love

Rachel xx

today i saw

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Today I saw so many things that made me pause,

The man in the bright yellow wellington boots

Walking along the tow path at the side of the canal.

I didn’t write that down because it seemed

So boring at the time, but really it was beautiful.

And so was the purple ribbon, tied to the railings

On the bridge over the rail tracks. I have no idea

Why it was there, so I chose not to write

About that or the dog with no owner, trotting

Quite happily by the side of the road at 5:45

When everyone else sat in a rush hour queue.

And I chose not to write of the girl in the sun dress,

Carrying a pot plant in her circling arms.

I wonder how many things go unnoticed like this,

Far too mundane to commit to plain paper,

Lost to the world in the breezes of time.

I follow a lady on Twitter called Kate Clanchy. She is an English teacher and gets her students to use templates to write the most beautiful poems. Today she had them write about all the things that they saw during the day that didn’t feel worthy of being put in a poem.

I love that idea of capturing the mundane so I really wanted to have a go at this myself. I do find that I focus on some of these weird details when I go on a long run; the things that you wouldn’t normally notice.

I do find that whenever I do the really long ultra runs, I start to see the really strange stuff. Once I saw someone walking a bunny, a dog wearing trainers and a woman praying in the woods while she held a daffodil in her hands. I may well have been hallucinating when I saw some of these things.

But there is most definitely beauty in the everyday detail. You just need to stop and look closely and you will see it.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the birds and the bees

photo of yellow and blue macaw with one wing open perched on a wooden stick
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I’ve never been one for talking out loud

About sex and anatomy and bodily functions

But now I am faced with thirty young people

Looking to me with a clicker in hand

And a power point slideshow not written by me.

I find myself squirming and wishing away

This half hour of words that make me blush.

I have a tutor group of Year 8 students and we are supposed to do PSHE lessons with them. It’s such a vital part of our education system, but OMG, it’s scary to deliver these lessons about the birds and the bees to a bunch of 13 year olds.

The big problem is that teachers don’t really get any training to deliver these lessons. I remember my first one I did covered every kind of sex you could have and I was cringing almost as much as they class were sniggering.

What makes it worse is that we don’t know what our students are going through outside of school and I am always desperately worried that I’m going to offend or upset someone.

It’s an absolute minefield and I wish that I could get out of it, but there is no wriggling out of it. I’m just going to have to get over myself and give it my best shot. I worry that actually my botched efforts may be better than anything some of them are getting at home….

Much Love

Rachel xx

i am justified

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Did I come down way too hard?

Did I nit-pick?

Did I strike unfairly or

Was I justified?

Sometimes all it takes is one

Person to confirm your thoughts,

That it was wrong the way

That person acted in your class.

You’re justified,

So take a breath

And never fear that you are bad.

I sometimes worry that I am picking on a student. Sometimes we get off on the wrong foot and it can be easy to think that person is bad for the rest of their lives. So it really is relieving to hear someone say that you were justified in your actions.

I have one student who is really disruptive and I sent her to another room because I just couldn’t teach with her in my own. She made out that I was rude and picking on her and I questioned myself for a moment.

However, when the other teacher brought her back for a restorative conversation she was pretty shocked about this student’s attitude.

It was really helpful to hear this other teacher talk to the student, and also to know that I was justified in my actions. Sometimes it just takes one person to tell you that you are doing things right and you stop feeling like you are horrible or that you are doing things wrong.

I guess this is applicable in so many areas in life. To hear that you are doing OK is all that is needed to push you onwards.

Much Love

Rachel xx

not feeling all that important

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My star has burnt so brightly now

It’s dulling by the day,

Eclipsed by burning suns

That light the midnight sky.

Perhaps I’ll reignite one day,

A swan song to delight,

But patience is the key to this

And gratitude for what I have.

During the Tokyo Olympics I was scrolling through Instagram when I fell upon a post by one of my all time favourite swimmers. Missy Franklin was seventeen when she won several golds at London 2012. Her achievements were phenomenal and I also love how gracious she was in defeat.

During Tokyo she was heavily pregnant with her first child and she had written that she had spent the night crying because she was watching all her team mates doing amazing things and getting adulation for that.

She said that her husband held her and said that carrying his child was the amazing thing that she was doing this summer, and I thought that was such a lovely thing to say.

However, I totally understand how she feels, when you know you have been on fire in the past and now you are just plodding through life. I felt that this weekend, watching everyone complete marathons here, there and everywhere.

I think that in times like this I need to practice gratitude for what I have. Yes, I may have run hundred milers and swum the channel, and now I really struggle to run a half marathon. But I do have a career, something I dreamt of for so many years, and something that was just too far out of my reach.

Much Love

Rachel xx

they’re just so flipping deep

How is it that an eleven year old

Can make you stop within your tracks

With something so profound

Your breath, it catches in your chest?

They somehow know the words to fill

An awkward silence, or just how

To accurately put love into few words,

Like they’ve boiled it down

Until the essence is rolling off their tongues.

Incredible really, that a child so young

Can understand the things us grownups

Grapple with so hard, struggling to voice

The turbulence of this life…

teaching an old dog new tricks

crop man playing with dog on street
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Her patchy fur and the leg that doesn’t want to work,

It means that we all cast her out,

She cannot change, she’ll always smell a bit,

It’s hardly worth the time to wash,

To brush her coat and bandage up her paw.

Let’s just let her sit so quiet,

If she snaps we can always put her down

Because we know that change will never come,

Not now she’s old, too old to be reborn.

I’m watching a programme about kids with poor behaviour and how teachers are helping them to turn a corner. These kids are in primary school so the attempts to change them can be seen as a little bit easier than when you are dealing with 11-16 year olds.

It has made me think about the question: how old is too old? I have been to therapy in my thirties and used it to change my behaviours, so I know that it’s do-able. But can you persuade a 15 year old who hates life and doesn’t want to change?

We are all in a bit of a mess after everything we have been through over the last year and a half and fixing the behaviour problems is one of our toughest challenges. I think that the process is the same for everyone though. We just need to give our young humans a safe place where they know the rules and they know the consequences. This is what makes them feel safe and it is what they are lacking at home.

Much Love

Rachel xx

watching other people struggle

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The tears are just as painful as my own,

Knowing how that sinking feeling drags

At the heart, the soul, the physical.

You know that you will lose your grip

And drop so very soon, while all around

Are seeming to be sailing smoothly

Out across a sky so blue,

A different sky to that known by so few.

The lady that started in the English Department at the same time as me really seems to be struggling and I’m starting to think that she might not carry on much longer.

She has some horrible classes and their behaviour just seems to be grinding her down. It’s really hard to watch someone struggle so much – because it’s normally me who is there.

I remember when I attempted to become a recruitment consultant when I was still drinking and it went horribly wrong. I recall the feeling of sitting in the office and watching everyone else thrive while I was slowly sinking.

I think that having experienced it before makes it worse to watch from the outside, because then you know just how much it hurts. I hope this lady is just having a bad week and that she gets through this. And I’m also really grateful that I’m bobbing along nicely. I never thought I’d be so grateful to be so normal!

Much Love

Rachel xx

a joyful moment at 2:23pm

It was 2:23pm on a Friday afternoon,

With the Year 10 girls, drifting away,

Their left over laughter lingering on

And a few quiet moments before the Year 7s

Bowl down the corridor in bold anticipation,

Dreaming of poems with delectable rhymes

And books by Roald Dahl, with tongue twisting names.

But in those short minutes with nothing to do,

The teachers all sink into swivelling chairs,

Digging out chocolate and bottles of pop

To keep ourselves ticking for one hour more.

Closing my eyes at 2:23, with just one more lesson,

I feel that the world has paused in its spin,

With the light flitting in through the blinds still not fixed,

I wish that this droplet of perfection in time

Could freeze into ice and hold shape forever.

Those moments exist, dotted throughout,

So open your eyes and look for the sun.