The Teaching Mum

A light-hearted look at parenting through the eyes of a very busy English Teacher.


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Our Children Can’t Change The World…Yet.

Look at the above title.  How does it read to you?  Is it negative or positive?  That little word ‘yet’, in my opinion, communicates a hugely positive message because the little Year 7 boy or girl who walked into my classroom for the first time ever four weeks ago, can’t change the world right now, but one day, they just might.

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How do you encourage your children to be aspirational?

Three years ago I joined a secondary school in an old mining town in West Yorkshire; the town has a very close knit community whereby everybody knows everybody and collectively they are bound together by their sheer love and passion for their local and successful rugby team.  Whilst on interview, I was given a guided tour by a group of Year 8 pupils who took immense pride in showing me the ‘Hall of Fame’ corridor in which numerous photos of pupils, both old and new, decorated the walls.  Despite the love of rugby that, I feel, was once (and still very much is) the beating heart of the school, our pupils are encouraged to be the best they can possibly be in any subject from the moment they walk through our doors to the moment they leave and beyond.  Only yesterday, I picked up a document that contained pictured of the smiling faces of past pupils who had joined us with low KS2 grades and poor literacy and numeracy levels; this document praised the varying successes of these pupils who had left us in July.  It celebrated the fact that, against all odds, these young men and women achieved the grades they did not expect to achieve when they first joined us in Year 7.  Having recently returned to work from maternity leave, I wasn’t able to celebrate in our Year 11 success, but on Monday morning, through sleep deprived eyes, I saw the smiling face of the boy I taught when he was in Year 10; the one who once struggled to write a difficult essay about ‘Romeo and Juliet’.  The boy achieved his much deserved C in English; this may not seem like much to some, but to him, it was the Everest he had to conquer if he wanted doors to open for him in the future.

Within our Academy, we teach and nurture a vast array of pupils from very different social and economic backgrounds, but our aspirations for them are always the same.  Some pupils struggle to see that a world exists outside their little town and it is up to us as educators to change their perception.  I am well aware that ‘one size does not fit all’ and as a classroom teacher, as a form tutor, as a member of the English Department and as an employee of an Academy I am incredibly proud and lucky to work for, I will do everything in my power to help a pupil set out on a journey to become the person they want to be.  Yes, they will need guidance along the way, because, who at eleven years old knows that one day, they might just want to rule the world?

My pupils and my own children are very lucky to live in a society that empowers them to be the best they can be. However, I feel it’s also important to recognise that everyone’s best version of themselves will be different.  I recall many years ago, when I first started teaching, a girl in a top set English group told me that all she wanted to achieve out of life was to be a wife and mother.  I scoffed at that (I was childless and single at the time), but who was I to do that to another person’s dream?  Looking back now, both as a mother and as an experienced teacher, that was poor form on my part and perhaps as a new teacher, I wasn’t at my best…then.   I really hope that she achieved her dream of being a wife and a mother and I am sure, if she is, she will be doing a damn fine job at it.

Making the world a smaller place – one discussion at a time.


Millions of children unfortunately grow up in a world they can’t change…yet.  One whole school initiative that we must abide by in our academy is that all lessons should include an insight into ‘the bigger picture’.  This ‘bigger picture’ is known professionally as ‘spiritual, moral, social and cultural development’, it is a way for us to help make the world a smaller place for our (mostly) rugby obsessed teenagers.  It allows them to discuss and learn about what is going on in the world around them.  I have to admit that when I first started teaching at my current school, I struggled to put SMSC in my lessons as it felt somewhat forced.  I felt I was trying to shoehorn in a Sky News bulletin just so my pupils knew that somewhere far away and in a place they may never visit, a bomb blown up and injured hundreds of innocent people.  However, after discussions with my boss and after observing other teachers, I learnt how to incorporate it into every single one of my lessons.  For example, I am teaching ‘Romeo and Juliet’ once again to a group of low ability Year 10s.  I asked them to imagine a world without books and after a bit of prompting, we had a lovely discussion about the state our planet would be in if we couldn’t read and communicate with one another.  There was even one new student who has recently joined us from Africa tapping away on ‘Google Translate’; he may not have understood much of the discussion, but he will do…soon.

Having read about ‘The World’s Largest Lesson’ on September 25th, I feel that if we all share a common goal in aspiring our children to be the best they can be, then perhaps these global goals that the world’s leaders are committed to, could be achievable by 2030 and who knows, one of those current world leaders might just pass their baton (because every world leader has a baton) onto a young man or woman from a working class town in West Yorkshire who just became the best version of themselves.

This is the unedited version of the article that first appeared here on mumsnet.com

My first published post = a happy Teaching Mum!

 

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It was all going so swimmingly…and other water related metaphors

My daughter started at ‘big school’ a couple of weeks ago and when I say ‘big school’, I mean Lower Foundation. We have been talking about going to a new nursery for months now as we decided to take her out of private nursery and put her into a school one. I have to say that the girl has taken to big school like a duck to water and I could not be more proud or more pleased. My girl is growing up, becoming much more brave and she has a mature head on her little shoulders. With her approaching the milestone that is age four, I guess this is where life gets easier…

Big School: nailed it!

…Did someone mutter the words ‘don’t speak too soon, you moron’? Of course they did. Because in the same week as we started ‘big school, the girl started swimming lessons and alas, the metaphor ‘a duck to water’ could not be further from the truth. The words ‘sh*t storm’ springs to mind and when you’re in a pool full of four year olds, a sh*t storm is not what you want.  I have paid £91 for these bloody lessons and so far we are only two lessons in and I am ready to ‘throw in the towel’ and admit that I have paid £45.50 for two half hour lessons.

Week one

Week one was never going to run smoothly as we were without our usual childcare. My mum (how dare she) was (and still is) on holiday and both children were in a new private nursery attached to the ‘big school’. The Other Half made my life a little more difficult by making sure he had a football fixture he couldn’t cancel and I had a meeting after school too.

Arriving at nursery just after 4pm, I picked the children up.  The boy was fast asleep rocking in a chair swing and I was told that it was his favourite place in the nursery.  I interpreted that as ‘it’s the only place in the whole damn building where he will stop crying for ten minutes’ and felt a sudden empathy for the tired nursery workers because as much as I love my children to death, I don’t think I could spend days on end with other people’s crying babies.  Year 7s, on the other hand, asking me if I know their date of birth or asking if they can turn the page in their exercise book, I’ll take that all day long…

We rushed from the nursery and arrived home.  I threw a home made Hipp Organic jar down the boy’s neck, changed the girl into her swimming costume and off we went.  I was still wearing my work clothes which consisted thick black tights, a dress that I worry is (almost) too short for work and heels; the perfect outfit to take a three year old and an eight month old swimming in.

The first sign I saw when I arrived at the pool: outdoor shoes must not be worn.  The rebel in me ignored it and I pushed on.  The girl stripped to her cozzie, I picked up my two bags, the boy and jumped over the pool of water you step in before you reach poolside. With the heat hitting me like a tropical rain forest, (okay so not a water related metaphor, but figurative all the same) it was all I could do not to jump in the pool with the Dude hanging off my hip and (my Mum’s very old hand me down) Marc Jacobs bag.  I tottered along the edge of the pool and found an instructor. She looked at me as if to say ‘why in seven hells have you brought a baby?’ pointed out a chair and shoved some yellow floats on the girl. My daughter was then called over to get in the water, but would not walk over to the instructor alone. (She was about two metres away.) Once again, I tottered around the edge of the pool and leant precariously over the water edge in an attempt coax the girl into climbing into the water. While leaning over, I became acutely aware of my (almost) too short dress and realised that other watching parents could quite possibly be getting an eyeful of the genius way I prevent my tights from falling down.  So I quickly stood back up and returned to my seat hoping that no one had spotted my over under garments… My girl, bless her, was clinging onto the instructor for dear life; all the other children were happily floating and splashing around her.

After fifteen minutes of me sporadically shouting ‘let go of her!’ to my girl, the Other Half arrived from his fixture and sent me and the Ninja Flippin’ Dude home.  

After arriving home from McDonalds, (he had taken her for ‘being brave’) he told me how she had jumped in the pool at the end (yay) and then screamed the place down.  Did she stop screaming once the water was out of her eyes?  No.  She had continued to scream in the changing room and the car.  The promise of a visit to the ‘magical golden arches’ was all that would shut her up.  Once home, she got in the bath and insisted on pretending to be Ariel the chuffing Mermaid.

Week Two (today)

We pass the school where the girl goes swimming everyday.  Everyday since last week, my daughter has pointed the school out and proudly stated that that is where she goes swimming.  Every day since last week she has promised that she will let go of her instructor.  She has talked about swimming to her nursery teachers and Grandma and Granddad (not my Mum though as she is still on holiday – childcare will be a fortune this month…)  and told them that this week she is going to swim on her own.

Today was her second swimming lesson and luckily for me, The Other Half had no sport fixtures this week so he took her to the lesson.  Half way through the lesson I messaged him to see how his princess was fairing and this was his reply:


She refused to climb in the pool once again.  He was the only parent poolside and when she kicked off, he took her back into the changing room and dressed her.  As they were leaving, she decided that she did, in fact, want to swim and he took her back in to the pool area.  My girl did swim on her own today, but the instructor was not allowed to let go of her float.

The Other Half rewarded her bravery once again with a visit McDonalds.

Next week, I am going to take her to her lesson.  The plan is to just throw her in and run away…to McDonalds.

Been brave? Let’s go to McDonalds!

Everything Mummy