Yesterday, I went back to the last school I taught at full time. I will be helping to train some NQTs soon about the Computing Curriculum – how untraditional of me but hey ho- it’s not all about using the spatula method (flipping things).
I went to say hello to one of my old classes. It was lovely to see them again. I almost got crushed in the spontaneous group hug that ensued. I evidently should have spent more time on the health and safety aspects of group hugs, or more likely it’s just because they are two years older now. A few of them are even taller than me now!!
The most exciting thing for me, however, was the fact that one of the children, who had joined late in the year – around April, and who spoke no English, is chirping away now!! “Miss Gill I can speak English now.”,” You were my first teacher here.” There is something quite magical about an EAL child morphing into an English speaker, the accent, the phrases they have picked up without you realising it, the confidence and fluency.
Their current class teacher is a good friend, as well as one of my old year group partners, another no excuses man. He also knew how much I adored the class and vice versa. Bless the new young TA though, he wasn’t sure how to react to his table of children running off!
I have promised them that I will, when I go back in a few weeks, have made a short video using pictures of my visit to Greece last year. I thought of them often, especially while visiting the Parthenon, which that I had taught them all about. It was an absolute pleasure to teach the Ancient Greece unit with the focus on really acquiring knowledge and it is to the credit of the new curriculum that the history units can be taught with such rigour again.
Yesterday also made me realise that all the “you must be a heartless child-hating monster” spouted is harder to refute when one is not a full-time class teacher, unlike, for example, the Michaela teachers, Quirky Teacher, etc. I do try not to wear rose-tinted glasses when remembering the classes I have taught but I do worry about if I am when responding to such criticisms.
So it was a necessary, as well as a lovely, reminder of what my relationships with the children were actually like. The idea that no excuses, traditional, formal teachers have negative if any, relationship with the children they teach is simply not true.
The only negative relationships I’ve had in the schools I’ve worked in were with parents and other staff members, who made excuses for poor behaviour and were unsupportive.
The children? The overwhelming majority accepted I was strict, met my expectations, followed the rules or accepted the consequences if they didn’t, and learnt lots. There is always such a fixation on the initial setting of boundaries, enforcing consequences, etc from those who believe no excuses is wrong but what they appear blind to is how much easier it is over the course of the year. How much trust there is, respect there is, the greater ability and time to build positive relationships with children, because one is not dealing with constant disruptive behaviour of the low or serious kind.
It doesn’t matter if some people feel the need to demonise teachers like me. Right now, I don’t care. I’m going to make the video, show it to my old class, feel proud of the lovely children they still are and hope that they might one day make the journeys themselves to connect with what remains of the Ancient Civilisations.
Oh and hopefully not be crushed in a group hug!!