Back in the classroom – Funscapes, Parentline and Break-up Day

The Second Term of 2011 has just ended and though I only taught for the last four weeks of it I am looking forward to the three weeks holiday ahead.   Don’t for minute think that things let up in the last week – they don’t.   At this wonderful school at which I am teaching they do a thing called ‘Funscapes’ at the end of term – its a fun time for kids and lots of hard work for the teachers.  The children are offered a variety of fun activities or clubs for which they pay – price depending on costs to run it.  Clubs include scrap-booking, bread-baking, horse-riding surfing, biltong making, network games, chess, aerobics and the list goes on.  I offered bird-watching but was disappointed when only six kids applied. When I  am not teaching I offer this and take six kids in the Caravel   But as a teacher I had to have at least 20 kids so I was therefore assigned to a club that was over- subscribed – Super Scientists!   The teacher in charge had 50 kids so handed half of them to me.  She did all the preparation, buying of ingredients and printing out the instruction booklet and it was just up to me to supervise the explosions in the lab.  So for two days I put on the ‘nutty professor’ hat and endured making fake snot, magic putty, volcanic coke, slime and other equally disgusting and messy experiments.   Of course the kids loved it and the level of excitement and wonder in the class was another challenge to deal with.  In my group I had one particularly strong personality with little self-control but to counter that were four delightful Grade 3 girls who could be relied upon to help with handing out and clearing up without making a huge fuss.   The kids worked in groups of four, it was noisy, it was messy but it was tremendous fun.  At the end of the second day I was totally exhausted – I don’t remember being so tired in a long time. Of course this was the day I came home to too many demands from family – I need you type this on the computer – from Josh.  Call a help-line – the internet is down – from Grandpa. The supper needed to be cooked, the kids and grandpa dealt with and all I wanted was my bed.  At least Lolz stepped in and cooked the dinner and finally everything was sorted out and I could get some rest!  Next day I was fine!  On Thursday school closed at 12:30 so we could do parentline – this is when parents have 10-minutes slots with the teacher to collect their child’s report and have a chat about her progress.   But we are well treated by the school – a lunch of soup and rolls was served before we began and then we had a supper break and were served a delicious babootie and yellow rice in the staff room.   In addition pupil leaders brought us hot chocolate and biscuits for afternoon and evening tea!    My interviews went well and it seemed that except for one couple, the parents were delighted with the school, happy with the change of teacher and pleased with their children’s progress.  The couple who complained, I think, were expecting too much from their child.  They were both high achievers at school, and though she by no means a weak child she’s not top of the class. They thought the level of education at the school was too low and that the child was not learning enough. I explained to them that if it were too low for their child she would be at the top of the class not coping well in the middle. They went on a bit and I had to end it as our time was running out – so I said, This is what I feel – your child is great – she’s doing well.  If you don’t like what is happening here you are always free to move her to a school you feel would suit her better.

Today it was of course early closing for the kids.   It was cold and rainy so no chance of doing any fun outdoor activities. Instead I showed “The Wizard of Oz” and got a few of the girls to tidy up, sort out books and clean the tables.   Its amazing what such small kids can do – I think their mums would be proud.   They were all gone by 11 o’clock and then it was time for the teachers to set up their classrooms for next term.  The children have to be re-seated into new co-operative groups each term.  Each group member has a role – organiser, gate-keeper, reporter and encourager.  During the year they must each have a chance at each role.   They also have to sit with different children each term.   This is to teach them to work well with all the children in the class and not just their friends.   It is a good system and it is amazing how well the children cope with it all.  I eventually got it all worked out, stuck on the place names, arranged the new stationery and a welcome back card on each desk and then wrote a message on the board.  Once all the classrooms are tidied and arranged senior staff came into inspect and photograph and then we may leave.  I was done by 2 o’clock.

My nails have taken a hammering being exposed to green slime and chalk and I have not been vigilant about wearing my rubber gloves when cleaning up afterwards – so I treated myself to a manicure this afternoon. The bright red nails should last through the holidays!

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