In remote areas some people are crofters, fishermen, weavers, artists, run a guest house and have a day job

Teaching tomorrow but, at an extra £2.50 per hour, that alone won’t pay for car repairs. Filling in part-time job applications – fingers crossed…

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Prickles and Pongs

Bribery is the order of the day and, like a carrot, the children are allowed a couple at a time to peer in the box from a safe distance and say hello to the temporary new classmate…in return for producing the required piece of work beforehand. It works. Even the most reluctant scholar perks up and completes the allotted task on time! Unfortunately this coconut-sized bundle of prickles, seems allergic to its fellow students and keeps sneezing – unless it was Pandora’s new perfume which could also be used as an insect repellent as the weather warms up!
Prickles and pongs

G Force

A recorder lesson and I’m starting to get a headache. To the soundtrack of Mama Mia by Abba the children are instructed to play the first note of the bar. G, rest, rest, rest… G rest, rest, rest… and so it goes on…and on…and on…
Jimmy is blowing his instrument a bit too exuberantly and the note comes out as a full throttle screech.
“Who can play me a Gentle G?” the guest music teacher suggests to no avail.
I’m trying to listen to some of them read. I have to resort to lip reading and I smile encouragingly, hoping that I am nodding in the right place. I can’t hear a damn thing. Correction. I can hear 28 recorders doing trumpet voluntary impressions.
I notice that Sam is looking a little pink, whether from too much sun at lunchtime or holding the note a bit too long – who can tell?
Charlie arrives to read with his fingers in his ears. I am sorely tempted to emulate him but I must set a good example. Then they move on to Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer. Previously a favourite of mine, it’s amazing how quickly the memory gets sullied. I give up trying to hear Charlie and sing along instead. After all, if you can’t beat them…

Signed, sealed, delivered…

Today we looked at artefacts from the Roman era (actually most of them were replicas). I was in charge of the writing table. There was recipe for making ink…I had to improvise a bit.
First we needed 5 teaspoons of soot. I ask you! Most of the children don’t have a chimney in their house let alone soot up it. Although, I can think of a few who would benefit from being sent up a chimney or two!
Someone suggested an alternative of crushing up charcoal. Have you ever tried to crush a stick of charcoal using the stick end of a paintbrush? Let me save you the trouble. It doesn’t work. Soon, a few broken up pieces of the messy stuff lay in the bottom of a yoghurt pot.
Next we needed to add some Gum Arabic (they kindly provided some crystalline version and suggested that it would need to be ground with a pestle and mortar). You’ve guessed it, the paintbrush was the nearest we got to that as well.
Gave up on that bit but luckily found some vinegar for the next stage from the staffroom cupboard – left over from Marion’s chip butty the year before last.
Poured a bit in and swilled it around, didn’t resemble ink as much as a dirty puddle with an aroma of the chip shop. The children turned up their noses but still felt impelled to try and use it with the pens provided. We talked about how they would send secret messages sealed with lumps of molten wax and stamped with a seal – They seemed rather fascinated at the idea. I suspect that next Valentine’s there may be a few rather vinegary missives doing the rounds with lumps of old birthday candle decorating the edges!

In command

This afternoon I met the class pet. I have come across quite a few in my time; degus (Chilean squirrels), mice, fish, even a leafy fern or two, but today the creature was quite unconfined and free to roam. It stared at us from under a low table and 30 pairs of eyes stared back… watching its every move.
Trying not to appear too fazed, I blithely offered that the first pair of children to finish their work would get to name the beast.
It worked. There was almost a stampede of feet as everyone finished in record time. The name was duly awarded; the newly dubbed addition to the class looked unimpressed.
When it was down to just us two adults left, we attempted a daring humanitarian mission – unfortunately it failed. Little Octavian (they are doing the Romans) was happier to be inside than we were to have it. Making a bid for freedom as the jug was descending (yes it was that big) it found a sudden spurt of speed and disappeared!
Much as I loved teaching the class, I’m thinking that perhaps I’d like a change tomorrow…

Thinking ahead – Minimal Word Monday

Early to bed – teaching tomorrow!

Tabula Rasa?

It is our job
to inspire and encourage –
nurturing any little seeds
of understanding and enthusiasm
and to respect
that it is the differences
in abilities and perspectives
that make the world a richer place.
Their future lies in these hands
which have the power to shape,
cherish and value
an individual
and questing
mind.

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