Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

News From the Salt Mines

What with all the school related things I have been doing recently, as well as the day to day drudgery of housework and keeping the BA on task with her homework and assignments, I don't seem to have much to blog about. Having said that, I keep thinking of things to offer commentary upon and then find that I have no time to do them justice in between designing the next idiot proof worksheet (there is no such thing.....) and marking the next pile of demoralisingly bad maths tests.

More copious quantities of time are apportioned to petting and training Morticia (NOT on the table M, get off my leg, stop climbing the vertical blinds etc etc etc) so that I have barely picked up a camera of late. The shot on the right was my only decent capture of the week and was going to be my Best Shot Monday except that I totally missed Monday in a flurry of sleeping and searching the internet for more worksheets on negative numbers. *sigh*

Anyway, it's not that great a shot but I did like it because I caught her in natural light so she didn't end up with Devil Cat red-eye. It's quite a nice shot of her ginger 'eyebrow' too.

In fact, she has totally captivated the whole household, with the notable exception of Pippin, the big cat. He spent 45 minutes this morning growling at her in an unhappy, cat like way as she persisted in stalking him, springing vertically up at him and then running away. I expected him to swipe her at any minute but he just kept up this low, monotonous caterwaul and backed off a few more paces every time she leaped. She just did NOT take a hint. In the end, sensing his growing agitation and aware that she may come to a swift and violent end if I pushed my luck very much further, I put him out. I am hoping that continued exposure to each other will break down the barriers but that currently seems a long way off.

Meanwhile, back at school we have had the annual Open Evening which is, according to the staff handout, a Big Deal and required an entire day without lessons to 'set up'. This brought up an interesting observation for me. Who knew being a teacher was actually a popularity contest?

You see, kids are obliged to give an hour or two of their time during the preparation day to help a teacher. This help can involve; pinning up posters, cleaning desktops, constructing displays or making explanatory signs on the computer. Alternately they may be appearing in the performances during the evening or manning stalls and classroom displays throughout the 3 hour extravaganza. For a few weeks prior to the event the teachers, armed with green 'roster' sheets, endeavour to enlist the help of reluctant students. This seems to involve a great deal of begging and cajoling even though the numbers of students far outstrip the numbers of teachers nevertheless, well before the day, many teachers had hordes of willing volunteers signed up to help. Not me though. Maths is not a subject which inspires a great degree of love or loyalty.

Despite my requests, nay pleading, for volunteers, my roster was bare. All over the school pupils busily assisted teachers in the Music, PE, Drama and even History areas (as they constructed a trench from World War One). My room was empty. In the classroom next door, the German teacher had about 15 kids lining up to help!! Can you imagine how demoralising that is? But wait! What is that smell? That delicious aroma emanating from Das Deutschzimmer?? Turns out she was offering hot chocolate and cookies! I obviously have a lot to learn about secondary kids.

The bright spot was that a bunch of my lovely year eight girls turned up cos they felt sorry for me and made instructions for games. Even more importantly, two of the African boys also fronted which I was especially delighted about (even if I did have to re-do everything they did)!! I was brought rapidly back to Earth however when they left after an hour announcing,
"Be sure you tell Mr Stupid Principal that we came!"

So, threats or 'bribed by cookies'? Pity or 'cupboard love'? At least my pupils came to help for real, if slightly negative reasons.

Next year I might play hip-hop and supply popcorn.


Anonymous said...

Oh dear! I do think your wry sense of humor must keep you sane through events like this one!!!
Hip hop and popcorn sound like a great plan for next year....whatever gets the work done I suppose.

This leads to an interesting discussion of do the means justify the end? Better to bribe them to get them in the door, working and taking some of the burden off of you and MAYBE discover something positive about the experience? OR better to wait until they stumble in on their own accord (perhaps prodded by threats) and hope they pick up something positive about the experience?
Not sure where I sit in this debate...I keep thinking about a bit of advice from a child psychologist who once said, "Who cares if the kids think it is their idea? As long as you get the behavior/results you are working towards - you "win." So what if they think that it was their idea?" (refering to getting chores done at home, etc).

So, I suppose I say that in this case, let them think they chose you (and your bribes). In the end, you get what you want done, they meet their requirements to assist and maybe in the process something positive is learned.

I usually am not a means justify the end kind of gal - but in this case, it works for me! : )

Your American Idol! said...

This is not related at all to this post, but that video clip is a riot...are you really a fluffy, pink alien planning to take over the world?

Arizaphale said...

Yes Elisa, I think I'm with you on this too. Having said all that though, when you work with Special Ed kids, the 'help' you get is not always incredibly 'helpful'. It's the old story of 'quicker to do it yourself'!! I did get a few laughs from the other teachers when I showed them some of the efforts of my 'helpers' though.

hipmomma said...

I would choose a math teacher or a german teacher any day! I loved my math teachers. Except my 6th grade Algebra teacher because she smelled like cigarettes and coffee.

kim said...

Sounds like you've got a good plan for next year!