Tearful Teaching

I’m tearful today. A tearful teacher who can’t decide who she’s letting down most. Is it the child who wants to work but has to wait until the classroom is less like a zoo to get the help they need? The child who can’t have you look at them as you explain a task, because you can’t afford to turn your back on half a dozen or so children who are ready to destroy any semblance of peace or learning?

Perhaps it’s the child who is doing the disrupting. Perhaps it’s that child the system lets down most, because that child is not being taught how to function in real society. That child has excuses made for them. That child can turn their rage or spite on anyone in their path and there is no real consequence. The child who can say, ‘My mum is going to stab you’ or can comment on your ‘fat rolls’ to your face and then laugh out loud, but still be allowed to attend your lesson the next day.¬†That child is unlikely to thrive without any enforced boundaries.

But most likely the child I let down the most is the one who is there when I walk through my front door worn out, crying and just wanting to cry myself to sleep in a dark room. The child who brings his mum a cup of tea and gives her a hug, but can’t stop the tears that roll down her face.




I’d like to teach¬†the world to sing

a song about

a teacher

and maths.

There would be a verse about Pythagoras and


and a line about protractors that don’t work.

Pi and the constant of

proportionality will

come up somewhere, probably

connected with the time taken to

complete paperwork and

the success of

the pupils. But

that isn’t proportional so¬†I’m going to

think again.

Year 9 Surveyed

Data Handling with year 9, EAL, SEN… it was interesting to say the least.

Asking children with a very loose grasp of the English language to design survey questions got me some very blank stares.

“All the people in this class… If you could ask them a question, what would you ask them?” I asked.

“Nothing,” says the shy girl who would rather work in the universal language of numbers than with words.

“If you had to ask them three questions, then. What questions could you ask?”

“I don’t know, Miss.”

“Ok, I’ll start you off. Do you have any pets?”

“No,” she replies.

“That is going to be your first question,” I clarify, “so now think about what answers people could give. What kinds of animals do people have in their house?”

At this point, the girl next to her is trying to help out, “You know, like cats and dogs,” she prompts.

“Good,” I tell her, “there’s two we can use. What other animals do people have?”

“Giraffes!” is the eager response I get. I confess to laughing a little.

“Where would you keep a giraffe? They’re very big!”

“Anas!” she says, pointing to a boy at the front of the class… I’m not sure whether she means that Anas IS a giraffe, or that he HAS one.

Later in the lesson, I look over someone’s shoulder.

“You have all ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions,” I say. “How about trying to think of ways to ask a question so that you get different types of answers?”

“Ok…” he says, and sits back to think. A few minutes later, he tells me he’s done, and I ask him to give me one of his questions.

” ‘Do you play sports?’ is the first one.”

“Oh… and what response boxes do you have?” I ask him.

” ‘Yes’, ‘Maybe’, ‘No’ and ‘Not at all’, ” he tells me.

Back to the drawing board…


Giggling in Class

data handling

In a lesson I was¬†observing, the teacher says to the class, “Take a look at the board and see if you can solve the puzzle to find out what aspect of maths we’ll be looking at today.”

Silence ensues… “Any ideas?” he asks them after a minute. One girl raises her hand and he gives her the nod to answer.

“Put up your hand if you’ve broke your arm and can’t ride your bike?” she offers. I must confess to uncontrollable giggles.

Watch That Language!


My lesson went well. My marking and feedback is by far the best in the department, my differentiated activities challenge all abilities, my questioning draws the answers from the students and I clearly know them well.

When my observer said that there was one thing I needed to be aware of, I was ready to take note, as always. My language, she said, might get me into trouble. I thought back, wondering what I could have possibly said that I shouldn’t have… Did I swear? Did I use sarcasm, which is often frowned upon? I’m usually so careful about the things I say, and I couldn’t think of anything that stood out as bad practice.

She reminded me of the two girls who had been talking at an inappropriate moment, and my response to it. “Come on, girlies,” I said, “Pay attention!”

Girlies. Not proper English. I’m told an Ofsted inspector could well slate me for that, as well as ‘guys’, that I know I use often. Oh dear. Now I’m thinking of things I could call my little angels instead…

Classroom Fun

A day of observations tomorrow… how much fun will that be?

I fear I won’t sleep tonight for questions running around my head… Did I differentiate enough? Will I remember to write up all key words? Can I show good pupil progress? Have I prepared properly for EAL students? Is¬†my lesson creative?¬†Will the kids behave??

I have an outstanding reputation to live up to, after all. Here’s hoping I don’t let myself down.