Sunday, 23 September 2012

It Shouldn't be Aloud

Yet another lesson, for the oldest children at school, on grammar. The lesson that we have to repeat several times a year for those who "don't get it". I know I'm going to sound like my grandmother here, but when I was at school, we "got it" because we were smacked over the knuckles with a ruler if we got it wrong. They've taken all the fun out of teaching...

The lesson was how to use there/their/they're, as well as allowed/aloud and so on. I'm not as obsessed as Mr Chaos, the Grammar Nazi, but the misuse of these words really bugs me. I don't mind the odd spelling mistake, and if someone has a problem with words, I'll go with it, but otherwise it's a red pen moment. 

It's probably another sign I'm getting old. We used to laugh at our old Graphics teacher for not shopping somewhere that didn't use apostrophes correctly in their signs (she also refused to let foreign cars into queues), but I find myself doing the same. 'No, we're not buying "strawberry's", let's go somewhere else...' That's another pet hate, and one the children no doubt sarcastically chant along with me: 'Just because it ends in "s", doesn't mean it has an apostrophe...'

No doubt this will now be re-read with an agenda of finding any grammatical mistakes...

See how I'm getting better at my blogging? We have pictures!! This is mainly due to me winning a fight with my internet provider. I now have unlimited downloads (and much smaller bills), something which I intend to grossly misuse.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Importance of Lying to Children.

Today I spent some time with the infants, as I couldn't think of a decent excuse not to. The topic was "social skills - how to introduce yourself", so I began by telling them a bit about myself. When I'd finished, I asked them if there was anything they thought I'd left out, and that they really wanted to know. So we covered what colour my cat was, what pizza I liked best, and if I watched "SpongeBob". "How old are you?" someone piped up. Now, I'm intensely irritated by people who think that's a rude question. Children are only too happy to come and tell you, "Guess what? I'm seven," and I have a feeling the only reason some adults object to the question is that they're ashamed of being old. I like getting older - it's a great excuse for not doing things. No, I'm not going to run round the football pitch, I'm far too old - I'll watch you. Watching "Glee"? Oooh, no, I'm much too old for that...So I told the children my age. There was a long silence, broken by a stage whisper of, "That's really old," from a boy at the back. Now, a couple of years ago, I passed the age at which life begins, so I think that was rather unfair. 

Relating the above incident to Ms Fab, she told me that an infant called her over at lunch time to say, in a dramatic voice, "Did you know, that when you get old, you die?" Ms Fab wasn't sure if this was just to be taken as general information, or whether she needs to book plastic surgery (Ms Fab is a great deal younger than me).

We've found that children are great at making you feel terrible. Over the past few years, I've been asked:
Did you ever meet Queen Victoria?
Did you fight in World War Two, or did you have to be a nurse because you're a girl?
What did you do before electricity?
And, my absolute favourite: What was life like in black and white? 

I wish we could return the favour of being brutally honest without getting the sack. There are so many things I'm saving up for my last day at work...

Saturday, 8 September 2012


Shhh...I'm not really here....

I'm meant to be writing a 3000 word essay on ethics, but got bored. 600 words in, I found myself writing complete rubbish that bore no relation to the question, so I think it's best if I take a break, eat the contents of the biscuit tin, and carry on later. Or tomorrow. Heck, it doesn't have to be in for another week or so...It's a course with the cheerful title of "Death and Dying", and was another expensive mistake. I started full of enthusiasm (I like ethic-y things, and think dying's interesting. I may consider doing it myself one day), but my tutor is allergic to being helpful and I'm fed up with reading about hospital policies. Anyway, I've got two new courses starting soon, which look much more interesting. 

I'm doing Open University just for me. School days were most certainly not the best days of my life (were they for anyone??), so I'm dabbling in courses now. People ask if I'm doing it so I can go into teaching. Seriously?? Like there aren't enough messed-up children around already.

So what did we do in the two days the children were at school this week? (The children and I were all in agreement that two days at school and five off would make a pretty good week.) Well, we had School Council elections. We didn't have to rig it this year, as Ms Fab's daughter won the chairmanship, and she's pretty nice. The secretary's a good one, too. At least I can read her writing. 

And the sun's out, now that the holidays are over - that always helps to put the staff in a good mood. Indoor breaks are terrible for making tempers flare. You can hear the teachers' symphony of yelling all the way down the corridor. Playground duty is bearable when the sun is shining. Yesterday, the infants decided to play "wheelchair basketball without the wheelchairs", as Paralympic fever still rages. The new children are getting used to our apathetic response of "Oh, you'll be fine, give it a rub," every time they fall over. See, that's another problem with the little ones: they don't stand up very well, and I'm only equipped with a certain amount of sympathy. At least the juniors only fall down when the footballers are on the rampage. But then they go to high school, discover alcohol, and turn into infants again.

We've not had many children on the isolation table, and I've not been sworn at yet. There's time, I know, they're still finding their feet in a new class, bless their hearts.

I really must go back to that essay. Although I've not checked my e-mails yet.  And I'll just have a quick five minutes on Bubble Shooter (ha ha, "a quick five minutes", I like that!). See you later, I've got so much procrastinating to do...

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Dream Team

Tomorrow, the school opens its doors to the children again. Two staff training days have resulted in a lack of tea bags, three large, family-sized cakes being eaten, and a few labels being stuck on books. Mr Chaos started to panic that he'd not actually planned any lessons, but, instead, decided to completely empty all of the classroom cupboards to "clean them out". Then he went home early, leaving his TA to quietly have a nervous breakdown. I don't think he's "tidied" his classroom since our last inspection. To clear some space, he simply carried the mountain of paperwork from his desk to his car boot, where I think it still sits, slowly disintegrating. 

After our official training on fire safety (don't use water on an electric fire, don't freeze your fingers off on a CO2 extinguisher, you can't use children to smother flames), Ms Fab and I were given the task of covering the display board in the hall. A simple and quick job, normally, but this time we were asked to unscrew the board from the (newly painted) wall, wrap it in blue fabric and screw it back up. Well, we screwed it up okay. Suffice to say that a large chunk of plaster is now missing from the hall wall, but that's all right, as we hastily put the board back up before anyone noticed. Telling the Boss Lady that it couldn't be done her way, we covered it in the conventional way, and made a quick exit. It should stay on the wall, I think, even though some of the rawlplugs fell out. If it comes down, it'll only land on an infant, and we've got far too many of those.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Back to Work

Today marks the end of the summer holidays in this part of the world, so tomorrow it's back to work...and before those thoughts enter your head about how lucky I am, being paid to sit on my backside all summer, I'll point out that I'm not a teacher, just a lowly teaching assistant. So, although I've spent six weeks doing virtually nothing, I've not been paid for the privilege (and quite rightly, too, in my opinion).

My workplace is a little school, where I'm usually found arguing with the older children. I'm not a fan of the infants - too much leakage and whining, although I will work with them if sufficiently bribed. As far as colleagues go, I'm pretty lucky; there are no staff-room rows, just occasional huffiness which is easily smoothed over by offers of cake. 

From Up North, Ms Fab is my little island of sanity. Fellow TA, lover of all things pink and sparkly, she endures my rants, likes the same children that I do, and makes a good, strong cup of coffee. She often works in the same class as me. The class ranges from the unbelievable angels, who desperately need to liven-up their lives by being occasionally naughty, to the, umm, more difficult ones. We'll work on that; Ms Fab and I are great believers in there being a decent child in them all. Somewhere. 

Mr Chaos has the classroom next to us. One of my favourite members of staff, he brings a comfortable untidiness to the place. Mrs Opinionated can't set foot in his room, it makes her OCD itch.

So it's staff training tomorrow and Wednesday. No doubt tomorrow will be spent eating biscuits, drinking coffee, and dreading the morning the children actually arrive. 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Under Pressure

I have to admit, this has started as a "Sigh, do I have to?" thing. I study with the Open University, and in a brief moment of enthusiasm, signed up for a creative writing course. (Enthusiasm is something I do rather well, but it doesn't last. I go from "Hey, look at this! I must do it!" to "I'm so bored," in the space of a month. It's been an expensive habit, but more of that another time.)

I joined a facebook group for the writing course - I always join course groups, they're a great way of procrastinating away the days before an assignment's due - and it seems that everyone's blogging. I ignored the superior "I've only had three books published," blogs. I puzzled my way round the weird erotic poetry ones (You did what? And made it rhyme??). I've resisted blogging until now. My daughter phoned the other day (early 20's, lives in Cornwall), and told me she's started a blog. Not for the eyes of anyone she knows, though. (Oh God, what's she written about me??) So here I am, childishly not wanting to be outdone. 

I'm hoping it will improve as I go along. I may enlist the help of my colleague, the Grammar Nazi, if things get unreadable. 

Future posts (if I can remember my password) may introduce you to people I work with, including the, ahem, delightful children in the school. And then there's my family, who are great. No, really, they are. Although I do have an Uncle Colin....but I think we've all got one of those...