Sunday, 10 May 2015

Trial by child, and the perils of honesty

Over the past couple of weeks, the school council has been getting ready to interrogate interview prospective candidates for our Head of School job. (Forget the British elections, this was far more important.) We had whittled down over a hundred questions suggested by class councils to just twelve. Our school council Chair and Secretary had liaised with their counterparts from our partner school, and final questions had been thrashed out and agreed upon. Sadly, questions such as 'Do you knit?' had been jettisoned, but ones about super-hero powers and embarrassing moments had been approved. 

On the day of the interviews, I was to accompany our panel of four children to our partner school and sit in on the questioning, which was great because I'm very nosy. After a tour of a rather lovely little village school (opposite a nice pub - just as well I don't work there), we met up with everyone involved in the interview process and had to stand in a circle and introduce ourselves. My worst nightmare was made easier by the fact that one of our children was suddenly struck with nerves, grabbed my skirt and whispered that he didn't realise he would have to speak in front of 'all these adults'. 'Me neither,' I muttered back, but we both got through it without making idiots of ourselves. 

Various members of staff (including The Boss Lady) have told me that it's far more nerve-wracking to be interviewed by children than by adults. I can sympathise. This year, surprisingly, the question 'Can you tell us a good joke?' wasn't chosen, but that would dry me up on the spot. Especially because, after the interviews, when the children and I pick everyone to pieces, they usually say 'Well, her joke was rubbish, so I don't think I'd vote for her...'. This year, we went round the council for each child's opinions. Things such as smiling, making the children feel involved, being honest, were not particularly valued by some children: 'He had cool socks,' was top of the list from one boy. 

On the way back to our school, our four children filled my car with biscuit crumbs and discussed the candidates. I pretended I wasn't listening, (for some reason, children think you can't hear them if you're driving) so I was privy to all sorts of amusing and frighteningly honest things. 

And my vote for Head of School? Well, that went to a girl on the other school council - for a year 4, she seemed to have the world sussed, and I bet she could tell a good joke. 

All in all, it was an interesting day, and one to be repeated on Tuesday when we're interviewing for two new teachers.

I know the contribution from the school council for this sort of thing is probably not taken terribly seriously by the adult panel, but it's nice that they're allowed to get involved. And, despite the focus on good jokes and cool socks, the children give very honest and carefully thought out opinions. 

I do find children far easier to get along with than some adults simply because they are so honest. How many adults are going to tell me, 'Did you know you say "Okay, guys, can you all quieten down?" at the start of every single lesson?' I've obviously become Mrs Predictable, but at least they're warning me. I have also appreciated being told that a certain skirt becomes practically see-through when I stand in front of the classroom projector (that's one I can only wear on Thursdays, now). We had a teacher whose dress had such a split up the back that you could see her knickers when she bent over, but did any adult have the guts to tell her? She wore it for weeks while we all nudged each other saying 'You tell her'. Wear that in front of the infants, and they'd tell you within seconds that your knickers were a pretty colour. 

Anyway, here's wishing Tuesday's victims the best of luck. May you come through unscathed. (And remember the cool socks - it's a big plus point.)

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