"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." “When I hear people say politics and religion don't mix, I wonder what Bible they are reading.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4.19
"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2.12
Saturday, February 4, 2012
The Sweet Smell of Academic Success
Life as a Form Tutor is coming to an end. Mrs. Ali will be back from maternity leave soon. Can't come soon enough. Carly, Joanne and Ainsleigh have taken to arriving late to registration and it's akin to the opening scene of MacBeth, only more doom laden, in school uniform and missing the couldron.
We continue to do well in the inter-form quiz, thanks to Google. This week we got ten out of ten. Thank God the powers that be have no real sense of how inept my lot are, although the Head of Year did express admiration that we just happened to know the Latin name for a road-runner.
In general my form treat the quiz with disdain. The clever kids ignore it and of the rest, those who can be bothered shout out incresingly random answers in the forlorn hope that if we had a thousand years one of them might just hit on the right answer.
What's the largest country in Africa?
Close. But not close enough.
How many sides in an octagon? (The clue's in the name.)
Em ... nearly.
So my new best friend Ade has taken to sidling up to me and logging into google during this ritual period of corporate humiliation. (My colleague Jodi, who teaches English, is in the same house and has taken it upon herself to be the motivator of these three forms:
"Get your lot sorted out. They're pathetic!" Only much, much louder.
We are all frightened of Jodi. I forgot to hand the quiz in two weeks in a row so got 10x0x2.
I know she could hurt us.)
Ade! You smell of cigarettes.
"That's because I smoke."
Do you not think you might be missing the point?
Ade's problem with google is twofold.
Typing and spelling.
It'd be quicker to do it myself but that would be cheating. Do you see what I did there? Flexible morality! But it's a cut throat world in the ongoing Knowledge College task of getting one over on the other houses in the year group.
Jodi would be proud.
I start the day with the Yr 11 group I have come to know as "That Lot". Regular readers may remember a previous encounter
I am trying out a new line in put-downs:
Repeat after me. Do you want fries with that?
It is perhaps not surprising that the intended target doesn't understand but I am gratified to see Alexandra snigger.
A little later I have one of my nice Yr 11 classes. They are a small group - only twelve, and they've never been a moment's bother in two years. I am very fond of them although I have no expectations of good GCSE grades: this class includes one boy who managed one mark in his mock exam (and that was generosity on my part) so that's an indication of the level that we're working at here. Nevertheless their mystical target grades (which I increasingly believe are fabricated) suggests they should all get C/D grades. Ah, another stick with which to beat me.
We are chatting away and there is a kerfuffle (don't you just love that word?) outside. My door opens to reveal a support assistant. She seem to be a ventiloquist throwing her voice.
"I'm not going in there. You can't make me. I shan't do any work, right?"
The dozen and I adjust our sight lines downwards. And again. My heart sinks. It is Autumn, a child of the most diminutive proportions from Yr 8 who appears angelic as if butter wouldn't melt, but is in fact totally bonkers (a term we use a lot in pastoral care). My group turn to me as one for guidance and I roll my eyes. They nod and get back to their work. Not a word is exchanged.
Autumn is directed to a seat well away from my students where she procedes to tear up the work Mrs. Singh has sent her in with and sit back with her arms folded as if to say "There you go then, what are you going to do?"
Helena sneaks Autumn a glance and then looks to me, raises one eyebrow, nods towards Autumn and gives me a look as if to say "Loser!" and continues to wrestle with the Christian and Buddhist ideas of stewardship. I ignore Autumn. She is perplexed. I continue to ignore her. One angry little girl and a baker's dozen intent and paying her no attention at all. This is unusual but how, in my opinion, it should be. Too often the receiving class collude with the miscreant by giving him/her the attention they want. But not today. I feel very proud of my little lot. Academic they may not be, but they understand about behaviour.
Unlike my next class.
We have a new boy, Ummar, who suffers from a form of Tourette's Syndrome. He tends to twitch a lot. This class, are Yr 9 and prone to giggle and be silly at the slightest opportunity. My words in advance of Ummar's arrival about tolerance go unheeded.
Ummar suffers from a condition that makes him twitch and jerk and shout out things when he is stressed. He can't help it. Ignore him, be kind and don't laugh.
The class has selective hearing. They pick up the words Ummar, twitch, jerk, shout out and laugh.
Which they do.
Ummar becomes more stressed and his behaviour more erratic.
Silly, silly, empty-headed, giggly girls. I could swing for them but it's hard to remonstrate with them without drawing more attention to Ummar. Then Ummar begins to talk to his exercise book and all falls quiet. I await the outburst that is sure to come but it doesn't.
The bell, fortunately, beats them to it.