From Now Til Christmas


This post is 10% perspiration and 90% procrastination; even the perspiration is only just because I am wearing a heavy jumper. Sometimes this is just how it is – you wake up, think about doing work, watch Andrew Marr, eat a few sausages, do a bit of speculative betting, buy a coffee and then just sit in a coffee shop, daring not to look at the planning file that peers dejectedly out from your backpack. Since this is not working for me, I am going to attempt to sift through my cerebral flotsam, and try to order my thoughts. There’s a lot going on From Now Til Christmas.

  1. My Student is Gone

I am mentoring a School Direct participant this year, and we have been sharing a class since September. What a lovely class they are, and we have been having a great time. My mentee-teacher is off on her second-school placement for four long weeks, and she is being replaced by a different School Direct trainee. I am looking forward to having somebody new in, and it will be interesting to run an accelerated version of the ‘Getting to Know You’ activities in order that the new teachers acquired the 90 names she needs to know in just a matter of days. Nonetheless, it will be good when my co-teacher returns from the wilderness of KS1 to take the class for herself.

2. My curriculum is interesting

There are some joyous curricular perks coming up in the next few weeks. I am taking my children on the Psychogeographical Wander around West Ham, Plaistow and Upton Park, following the random route that we decided by getting a blindfolded kid to plonk a cup on a map and draw around it. We are celebrating Black History Month in a big way, and my children are learning about the Civil Rights Movement. We are studying some of Oscar Wilde’s poetry in English and I love teaching poetry. What else? Oh yes, basketball!

3. We are meeting penpals

I started talking to Krysta Parsons (@KrystaParsons) on Twitter about two years ago. She is the Headteacher at Brant Broughton C of E Primary, up in Lincolnshire. We were chatting about how different our school contexts are, and how it would be great for my pupils to see rural life, and for hers to see urban life. As my lot are studying Urban Settlements this year, and Rural Settlements next year, there could be no better time. So my lot have been writing letters to the Brant Broughton kids and in just a couple of weeks, they will be making the big journey down to London to meet us. Excited! And if you are going to the #PrimaryRocks Live event, Krysta and I (who have still not met in real life/meatspace) will be sharing all about the exchange. Great things.

4. Supporting and learning about refugees

At school, a group of us teachers have set up a Global Issues Group. We meet every couple of weeks to explore ways in which we can bring the Global Goals for Sustainable Development alive in our school and in partnership with our local community.  Our first act will be aimed at alleviating poverty – we are hosting a huge collection drive for clothing and blankets, and are then driving over to the temporary refugee camps in the North of France. In addition, I have rekindled an online conversation with a teacher working in Palestine – we previously connected our classrooms and ran some joint programmes, looking at the world outside our classroom windows. I look forward to sharing with her again.

5. Geography Bee

I am running a borough-wide Geography Bee for primary schools in Newham. Last year’s event was successful, and I want this one to be even better and even bigger. I am running a training session with teachers in December where we can all meet up to discuss how we want it to change, and how we intend to prepare the pupils to maximise learning opportunities.

6. TeachFirst Cock Up Day

I can’t remember if that is the official name of it, but I am meeting trainee and first year teachers at a TeachFirst session at the end of November to share my experiences of cocking up. My difficulty is not finding one cock up but rifling through the maelstrom of oopsy-daisies that have littered my first five years in the classroom. I am choosing between

  • Armbreak and Weeping with the Children After Misjudged Scissors Kick on the Concrete
  • The Accidental Ordering of a Flotilla of Irate Minibus Drivers for a School Visit
  • Meeting an Education Guru (With my Fly Down)
  • Needing to be Forcibly Bundled Into A Taxi After a Party (but the driver was familiar…)
  • The Day I Became Too Creative and Made My Friend, The Cleaner, Cry
  • The Day I Bwarked Like A Chicken As An April Fools Prank, And A Child Went Into Hysterics
  • The Day I Got Fouled-Out of A Basketball Match, Despite Being The Coach
  • The Night I Shouted ‘Sh*t The Bed’ In A Child’s Tent (whilst removing a jumping spider)

And those are only the ones that immediately spring to mind.

7.  The New Job

Finally, the big change of this term – and I suppose of the year – will be that I move properly into my new post this term. My role is cloudy and flexible, and I am the Assistant Director of the Teaching School. I am hoping this will give me the ability to build up a stronger network between Newham schools and put on some great events that bring us together – debating, speechmaking, citizenship. It remains to be seen what my job will actually look like, but we shall see!

OK, best write some lesson plans now.


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