It all seems to be work

It has been a very busy time for the family and the time seems to have shot by. We have been like ‘passing ships in the night, engrossed in our own little worlds, only occasionally bumping into each other when through necessity our paths collide (mealtimes and for lifts).

Jamie was ferried to and from work on the outskirts of Kettering for the first week as he had no car insurance. Sue would take him at 5 am in the mornings and I ferried him home at 6 pm. It’s not a pleasant experience working in a recycling plant for twelve hours, the environmentally ripe odour the workers acquire during a shift becomes really concentrated when in the enclosed space of a car. At home, passing by the utility room where Jamie deposits his work clothes ready to be attended to is not to be recommended. Last week, his car was insured and he had the pleasure of driving himself to work.  It is still dark when he begins work and also when he finishes, but he has developed a poetic side to his nature as one day he commented on the beautiful sunrises and sunsets he has seen. A couple of days ago he told me that his car was gobbling up petrol on the journey to work and asked what he could do about it. I suggested he used the 5th gear as much as possible and ease off on the accelerator. He assured me that he already was doing that, yes Jamie!

Jamie’s girlfriend Harley got a part-time job at the Red Lion in Welham, she is serving tables on a Saturday lunchtime. Sarah had her boyfriend Lee staying with us for a few days, so we decided to give Harley some practice at waitressing by having a meal at the pub. As she was not expecting to see us, to our amusement she was quite embarrassed.

Over the last couple of weeks, Sue has only managed a couple of days in school, one at St Joseph’s and the other at Church Langton. She did enjoy lunch with Lynne Brown on one day and met up for coffee and cake with Lynne Keane on another. On one particular day, she was up at 5 am to take Jamie to work, then drove to Church Langton to pick up and discuss some planning for the following day, before continuing to Newark to meet Charlotte. Then onto Lincoln hospital with Charlotte for a pre-natal scan followed by lunch in Lincoln and a spot of shopping before she retraced her steps all the way to Harborough late that evening. Before retiring to bed she did her planning for school the next day. I wasn’t surprised that after work the following day she looked very tired, thankfully she wasn’t required again that week.

I mentioned in the last blog that I was due to work at Farndon Fields the day after they had had their OFSTED inspection. It didn’t work out that way. Lucy, a teacher in the school had collapsed at school on Tuesday and I received an urgent call to see if I would come in and cover. I dutifully turned up on Wednesday and taught the class for the day. I was hoping to see at least one of the two inspectors sometime during the day to give them the benefit of my wisdom on the nature of inspections and the credibility of inspectors. However, they didn’t pass the threshold of any classroom and buried themselves away in a small room by the office to write their report. That is an inspection? However, the staff were relieved to find that once again they were satisfied with a few points for improvement, amazing, it has been the same outcome on each occasion. There’s consistency for you. I wasn’t required the following morning as the Teaching Assistants taught the class Literacy and Numeracy, but I was required during the afternoon to walk the children down to the swimming baths and watch them plough up and down the pool while I sat at the poolside twiddling my fingers in an oppressively moist atmosphere. As Sue commented, it is easy money. I would have much preferred to have taught the children in the morning and let the TAs take the children to the baths at a fraction of the cost to the school.

After returning from my walk to the swimming pool, I was asked if I would teach a particular class of children on Friday. It seems they are difficult and require some firm handling as they were described as the ‘worst bunch of kids in the school’. I obliged and had a brilliant day with them. To make the day interesting, I took on the role of the bank robber, they had throughout the day to investigate what my crime was, how I had done it, and collect sufficient evidence to convict me, using their maths, science and literacy skills. Needless to say,  through lack of sufficient credible evidence I wasn’t convicted. Who says crime doesn’t pay? On leaving for the day, I was asked if I would teach the older children on the following Monday, I agreed, hoping that they would be doing what I am usually asked to do with them, science. However, I had to read through some very complex planning to deliver a Numeracy, Literacy and SEAL (social & emotional active learning) lesson. It had a very rigid structure, not very enlightening and I could have taught it better if I had had the freedom to do so. The only element we enjoyed was watching the Madonna video I had to play. Asked again on leaving if would teach the following day, I declined.

Later that week I had an emergency call from the school to teach. As Sue was out all week, I said yes, preferring company, warmth and free coffee.  It was the same bunch of reprobates. When I arrived at the office I agreed to do to the end of the week. Before the children arrived I set about changing the layout of the classroom so that there was little or no interaction between the children (certain ones in particular) while a lesson was going on. I then began the day explaining how I expected them to conduct themselves in the new layout and I enforced it rigidly. There are two TAs in the room and occasionally three, with thirty-one children. There is one computer in the classroom which the TAs also use for their planning, printing etc. Having to sit patiently waiting for the computer to be free so that I could set up the class learning for the day, was more than maddening.

Annoyingly, when you require the majority of the class to listen to you when there are three TAs in the same room talking to small groups or individuals, turns a lesson into a battle for attention. Crazy! Unbelievably, all computers in the school printout at one printer/photocopier, which is located at the other end of the school. Thinking positively, you do at least get fit walking to see if it has printed properly. Unfortunately, on every occasion I have sent a document to be printed I have stood in front of the machine, waiting patiently for my printouts to arrive while 190 children and over 20 staff have also had the opportunity to send something to be printed. Often it doesn’t arrive until much later in the day. However, once it did, but because the previous print run had used landscape, so were mine, they were useless as half the page was missing. On another occasion, I was using the photocopier as a photocopier when my copies were interrupted by someone else’s print run. When the machine returned to print out mine, it just churned page after page, refusing to stop, what a waste of paper. But I suppose, such is the role of the supply teacher, after all, we are just smash-and-grab merchants and shouldn’t complain if things aren’t set up for our benefit alone. I did have fun, and the children were quiet and well-behaved in the classroom, but still managed to form a disorderly queue at the Head’s room during the lunch hour.

I was requested by the ‘Step-by-step’ After School Club to produce a brochure for them. They are a group of local teachers and TAs that have formed an after-school club to help any children who need support with their schoolwork. I had produced some advertising material for them in the past and have also been a source of advice. They appear to be doing very well and are branching out into another session and have plans on building on their successes. I completed the brochure last week and visited them to see if I needed to make any changes, but it was fine. They are very well-organised and professional, but that doesn’t surprise me.

Sarah has been busy with schoolwork and watching the series ‘Gilmore Girls. Last week she went for some flying lessons with the Air Cadets, but unfortunately, the cloud base was too low and they had to return to Harborough without taking to the air.

Charlotte, though pregnant seems to be over the morning sickness. She and Lucas went to visit Nan on Monday and had a pleasant time, the usual delicious bowl of Yorkshire Stew was awaiting their arrival. I rang Nan in the evening to find out about her day but she was already in bed as they had tired her out. When I spoke to Lucas he informed me that he had had great fun playing football with Nan! Lucas has been to the hospital for a check on his malfunctioning kidney and the news wasn’t good. One of the kidneys appears blocked and quite shrivelled, but as yet he is too young to do anything about it. The tube to it is growing healthily, so it may recover as he gets older. I do hope it doesn’t curtail the future social side of his life too much, or his rugby-playing career.

Suraj appears busy working all hours, mostly with computers, buying and selling on eBay.

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