old people and the words we don’t know

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You’re dripping, miss

Those trousers make your bunda look good

Slay, slag

You’re the coolest kid in the ‘hood.

There is nothing to make you feel old quite like the language you hear teenagers using. It is like a whole new language that doesn’t make sense to anyone over twenty. So when you are nearing forty you have no hope.

I remember when a kid told me I was dripping and I thought I’d spilt something down my top. Apparently it means that I was dressed really nicely – so why couldn’t they just say that.

I try my best to keep up with everything my students say, but I think that I finally have to accept that it has just about run away from me. No matter how hard I work, I’m always going to be wondering what the hell they are talking about.

Much Love

Rachel xx

what is poetry?

Is it it a story that’s just really short,

Or a picture painted with words?

Is it writing for lazy people

Or for those that like to use long words?

Is it just for people who like Shakespeare

Or can anyone hold poetry dear?

I absolutely love to teach poetry and I get so upset when I tell students that we are doing a poetry unit and they all just roll their eyes at me. But I can understand that reaction because we are conditioned to think poetry is just for people who quote Shakespeare and don’t own a TV.

And I think that the way to get people to at least be open to poetry is to frame it right. Most people like pop songs or some form of visual arts, and poetry can be likened to either one of these. I just need to find the right words to pull them in.

I saw the quote above when I was scrolling through Twitter and it just made me chuckle. It’s spot on and I would be interested if a teacher framed it in that way.

Unfortunately, I have the feeling that most of my students would look at me blankly if I were to tell them this was what poetry is. I can already hear them asking me ‘but Miss, who is the man on fire?’

Much Love

Rachel xx

the monsters within

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We had a bloody long day at school today because it was the dreaded Open Evening, where Year 6 students and their parents can come and look around the school and see if they would like to be members of our school community.

I say ‘dreaded’ because it’s a 13 hour day, and you are ‘on’ the whole time. However, I do actually really enjoy speaking to the younger ones and asking them about what books they enjoy reading.

We did a Gothic room in our department and I was responsible for getting the kids to draw their own Gothic monsters. And some of them were interesting, to say the least.

I asked everyone to give their monster a name and we had everything from Richard to Mrs Jelly Legs.

I find it so sad that the creativity seems to just get sucked out of kids as they reach their teenage years. My Year 9s couldn’t even come up with one thing that scares them and yet three years earlier, they could have come up with a three headed monster called Richard.

Don’t grow up, kids. I love you just the way you are.

Much Love

Rachel xx

giving out small doses of advice

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She gives out little doses like medicine,

Small capsules or pills, easy to swallow

And hopefully helpful too.

She’s aware that they watch her

And scribble their notes

And she hopes that their nodding

Shows that they’re liking the things that they see.

So, I am still suffering from imposter syndrome and I fear that it will never ever leave me. I am only just entering my second year of teaching so I am still so new to the profession, and therefore it makes sense that I might still feel this way.

However, now that I’m not a first year, I am getting trainees coming into my class and watching what I do – and worse still, they are taking notes!

I think a lot of the problems come from the fact that I don’t feel much older than some of the students that I teach and so I don’t feel mature enough to teach, let alone have people look at the way I teach.

It is slightly wonderful though, knowing that I am allowed to have trainees in, and there might be things that they see me do, that they like and that they use intheir own practice in the future.

The fact that I am seeing things in this way, shows that I’ve probably matured a lot over the last two years of this journey. Feeling confident enough to offer advice is something I never thought would happen. And yet, here I am.

Much Love

Rachel xx

first day headaches

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No more room for useless info

As vital bits have clogged my head

And now the booming has set in

So all I need is my sweet bed.

My head hurts! I didn’t even have a particularly stressful day, in that we were just sitting down and listening to presentations, but there is something about being in a new environment and being surrounded by new people taht just feels so overwhelming.

I’m now sitting in front of the TV with my feet up and a packet of ibuprofen close by. Luckily, I have quite a nice day with just the youngest in the school coming in for the first day so that they don’t get trampled by the Year 11s.

All I’m worrying about now is the IT situation. I have to teach from the morning and I still don’t have a computer so I may just have to entertain them with a dance!

I hope all the other teachers out there had a fantastic first day back.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the hair disaster

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It’s always just before new jobs

When nerves are running high,

You think that it’s a marvellous idea

Until you blow your bleached hair dry

And find it’s turned a flaming orange

And all you want to do is hide.

I did the classic hair dye thing last night. I thought that I wanted a change before I went back to work, so off I went to B&M to purchase a box of hair dye. As I perused the shelves, I decided that I might go for blonde this time around – because, why not?

I excitedly ripped open the box as soon as I got home and started mixing, pouring and massaging in the bleach concoction.

Now, I dye my hair every so often so I have done it before and I have gone lighter but I think the box kits have become stronger since I last did that.

I washed out the bleach and found that my hair was extremely light. And then it dried and it went extremely orange. Think Cyndi Lauper and Girls Just Want To Have Fun – that was the look that I had achieved.

Luckily, I did this with a day to spare, as I don’t start my new job until tomorrow. I raced to town this afternoon and purchased a box of dark dye.

Now, I’m no hairdresser, and I’m no chemist so I had no idea what this new dye would do to my hair. It could turn witchy green for all I knew. So I held my breath and waited for the 25 minutes.

I think that I have saved myself the shame of going in on my first day with some freakish colour hair, and there is no need for me to shave it off. But it just goes to show that you need to give yourself a bit of time to sort things out if you are planning something drastic.

Hopefully, I have given you a piece of life advice (that you probably already knew anyway). You are welcome, and I hope that all the teachers have a wonderful first day tomorrow. I’m just glad I have hair.

Much Love

Rachel xx

hot days and graduation photographs

newly graduated people wearing black academy gowns throwing hats up in the air
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She sits quietly, underneath the baking sun

Her gown heavy on her shoulders, as she scans

The stands for a face she knows, anyone friendly

To gently cheer her on, to make the weight

Of cap and gown so worth this agony.

They’re calling names as sweat begins to trickle

Down the slender line of her aged and curving spine,

These clothes that have been worn by hundreds,

Smelling musty, their history palpable,

She just wishes that the heat would die,

Its sting taken out of this enfless day,

That the photographs would be taken

So that she can shed these layers like

A butterfly, spreading its wings and taking flight,

A new world there, in the sepia images,

A fleeting moment, before she begins the fight.

I try to stay off Facebook as much as I can because it just makes me angry, but when I have taken the time to sneak a peak recently, I have noticed that there have been loads of graduation photos (please note, these do not make me angry).

I do love a good graduation and I wish that we did it for more than just finishing university. I know that in other countries kids have a graduation ceremony at the end of almost every stage of their school career.

Here, we do have the big shirt signing event that is normally done out on the school field at the end of secondary school. We wear uniform in this country, so it’s fun to get our school shirts signed by all our friends and teachers on the last day. As a teacher, I’m looking forward to having a Year 11 class so that I can do the whole shirt signing thing as a grown up.

I do feel sorry for some of the people who have had their graduation ceremonies over the past few weeks as I can imagine that it was incredibly hot. Wearing those caps and gowns must have been unbearable.

I do hope that despite the weather, that they all had fun. For my first graduation the moment felt so overwhelming as I’d studied with a baby in tow, and it felt like such an achievement to get to the end. It was also held at The Barbican in London which has had so many amazing people and orchestras perform there.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the school production

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Polka dot skirts ruffle in wings

As twenty Year 7’s excitedly group

Waiting to skip on and smile at parents,

Hair backcombed, and adorned with ribbons,

Wishing they had lines, but that day will come,

When they’re the oldest and the main parts are theirs,

The Sandy’s and Danny’s are just out of reach,

The beautiful solos bringing tears to the eyes

Of an audience brittle with pride for their kids.

As the orchestra hit the final note

And the leading lady kisses her man,

The lights will dip for the final time

And everyone rises to excitable feet,

Encore! Encore! They all did so well,

Say teachers who secretly wipe away tears.

I went to watch our school’s summer production last night and all I can say is Oh My God! It was absolutely amazing and the work that must have gone into making it that good must be immense.

If you couldn’t tell from the poem, the production was Grease and our Year 10’s were playing the main parts. That means that these kids are only fifteen and they were performing in a way that would impress West End casting directors (if I may say so myself).

I often go off on huge rants about how bad behaviour is and how little respect kids have and how their attitudes can leave a lot to be desired. And I know when I say these things, I’m only focusing on the half that couldn’t care less.

Today I want to shout about the ones that do give a damn, because they deserve some attention and they give me so much hope for the future. And I want to say how proud I am of the students who took part – several of the English teachers were crying, it was so brilliant.

The standing ovation was enough to set me off. Well done to those that take part (and to the music and drama departments that put in some serious hours to pull these events off). You are all bloody amazing and I wish that I had even a smidgen of your talent.

Much Love

Rachel xx

sunny sports day chaos

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The chairs from classrooms crocodile

Out to fields where track lines scar

The verdant green that stretches far.

House teams gather in their coloured groups,

The reds all painted on their faces,

War stripes warning others that the win

Is theirs, and theirs alone, OK?

Relays rattle round the lanes at speed,

And champions stand atop the podium

Dragged out from a dusty corner in

A sports hall cupboard only opened once

In every year when sunny days roll round.

The sun beats down and tired girls

Fan their faces, sun cream slathered on

The skin that turns a pearly pink,

One child vomits and another cries,

It’s time to end this fun of hell,

Whichever way you view the sunny day

It’s here to stay, to let the ones

Who need that burst of starlit charge

Burn so bright for just one day.

We had sports day today and it was actually a really fun day. The kids were great and there were some stellar performances. There are some kids you have no idea are talented at sport and then you see them run like the Roadrunner – it’s eye opening, to say the least.

What I do love about sports day is the fact that the kids who are normally naughty in class have a chance to really shine. I don’t believe that it is OK for these kids to be disruptive, but I do understand that school is restrictive and for some people that must feel like hell.

I hope that any teachers out there have enjoyed the sports day season and that you all won your teacher’s races – or at the very least, didn’t fall over in front of everyone. If you fell over, I advise that you resign immediately because the kids will never let it go; your life will effectively be over.

Much Love

Rachel xx

burning with anger

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That blue banner that spans

The top of my computer screen,

It’s such a calming colour

And yet it should be fiery red

For all the crap I read

That makes my stomach acid rise,

I wish it came with warnings that say,

‘Read below with caution,

It could well ruin your day.’

I hate social media, and yet I can’t help myself. I just about squeeze into the millenial category, so I’m allowed to be a little bit addicted to some of these things. I can quite happily leave my phone at home for days at a time, so I am still a bit of a technological rarity.

The reason that I love social media, is that it gives you access to everyone’s life and what they are doing. The reason I hate it is that it gives you access to everyone’s life and some of the idiotic things that rattle around their brains.

I need to step back from it because I can sometimes get so angry about some of the things people write, and it seems so at odds with the calming blues that characterize these sites.

Today, I made the mistake of flicking through Facebook and clicking on a post the had a ‘see more…’ at the end of it. You know these posts are going to be long and rambling so I always try to steer away from these, but I got sucked in.

This person had written a post about how unfair it was that naughty pupils were excluded from prom and how that meant that teachers were cruel and not trying to be inclusive. They went on to say how lovely their son was and how the rough ride he has had should excuse his behaviour.

I know that this is a personal belief and there are probably people reading this and fuming at my views, but is school not for learning and for appreciating that there are boundaries? If you constantly push those boundaries, waste the time of teachers and cost your classmates valuable learning time, shouldn’t that be punishable?

The comments made my blood boil even more, with people just bashing this one school and the teachers there. And almost every one started with ‘my son came home and said that he did nothing, the teacher just has it out for him…’

Believe it or not, teachers don’t go into a class and pick out kids that they just don’t like the look of. And the point of my post is that everyone I know in the profession wants to help kids, and that involves teaching them the behaviours and values that will later make them good citizens and human beings.

Help us to help your kids and stop telling them they can do what they want!

With Stern Love

Miss R (Teacher of English) xx