Practice and Performance

tread lightly on the path of least resistance

on wooden toes, find strength, one must perform

balance on frail bridge without assistance

bright light in sight, no ligaments yet torn

plie, pirouette, without extension

trained for timely twirls to softly land

faster, faster, dizzying dimension

unruffled skirts, poised lithely, final stand

unapplaused in practice and performance

musculature, well-versed, its memory

carries through, determination’s dominance

treads lightly, choreographed, till finally free

Apologies one and all for being an absent blogger. Didn’t even hand in a sick note! Final leg here of around thirty thousand words in reports due in for tomorrow. No sweat. Well, maybe a little glowing – I’m a lady. Except for the swearing that has accompanied using an online reporting programme only barely fit for purpose. Bring back pens, I say. I’d have been done two weeks ago. Hope you’re all well and I haven’t missed too much. What’s the gossip? Oh, wrong forum. Been off everything. And all without withdrawal symptoms. Bit of a surprise, that.

Now, back to last of the reports. Any euphemisms out there I haven’t used to temper bad news? Just how many ways can you say, ‘you’re wean’s a lazy, blethering tike’?


Coming To Terms

From beginning to the ending

Though the time may be but brief

There is wonder in connection

In the parting no small grief

From the union tightly bonded

To the severing of ways

Histories that live on still

Though memories will fade

From moments of first meeting

To shy smiles fully shown

Through jokes and lessons jointly learned

Time has swiftly flown

And touched by one year’s loving

Their knowing in my heart

I’ll shed a tear one week today

When they and I must part

I’ll see them though in passing

And sometimes fully grown

The kids I’ve taught have taught me too

Offspring like my own

Families formed in term time

Terms have come and gone

Fostered for such little whiles

All children I have known

Simplicity and trusting

Their mischief and their smiles

From little lives the largest love

Greatest love by miles


That’s not to say that I’m not looking forward to the end of the school year. I’m sad, not daft!

The Meaningful Key

Minus mic,

his voice still carried,

barely and with just enough humour

to detect genuine humility

and passion.

He spoke

of early sadness,

not being good enough


finding meaning.

He spoke

of childhood,

of family split

and dodging school

to fail.

He spoke

of finding

worth in himself

through purpose

and work

and sharing

a shed

with rats,


scary spiders

and other youths

in a far-off land

where native children

were taught in awe and desperation,

drinking thirstily,

desperate for education.

He spoke

of forgiving himself

and his mum,

of whispered prayer

to find strength.

He spoke

of changes

in direction

to aspire

to doctor dream,

of local service

then returning

to Africa,

giving back

what he had found.

He spoke

of waiting soon

his first child –

to spontaneous applause

at his awed thrill.

His face lit

the stage.

A lad, I thought,

of tender years

for nothing


his glowing face.

But experience

lent truth

to his age

and joy in life.

From sad and broken beginnings,

he spoke,

while I choked back tears

at radiant happiness

and a voice

that spoke

to youths

and adults alike.

He spoke

of finding

the meaningful key.

Things I Hate About Teachers 2

The teacher who explains something once and says, ‘Got that?’

One child tentatively raises their hand and says, ‘No. Could you explain it again, please?’

A huge sigh and rolling of eyes follows while Sir or Ms erases writing from the board and then explains in the exact same way again.

Is it just me?

If I am in a foreign country and I attempt to speak the language and cannot be understood, is there really any point in saying the same phrase over and over again?

If I want to be understood I have to say something different or find another way of trying to communicate.

Why do some teachers presume that only one way of explaining is sufficient?

I experienced this myself with a particular Chemistry teacher who just could not make the lessons clear. At least, to me. Endlessly wiping the board and writing the same stuff on it did nothing to aid learning and I, for one, gave up. After failing my Higher prelim in spectacular fashion, I decided I could not cope with listening to another lesson that just made no sense to me.

Now, maybe I was just crap at Chemistry but it wasn’t only me who had the problem. A lot of us in that class shook our heads in disbelief as Miss S. attempted to explain alkenes and alkines in the same way for the umpteenth time. I still don’t know the difference. And I don’t care. The need for a knowledge of Chemistry rarely occurs in my life now.

I do care though about the fact that this still goes on. Strangely enough, the subject area is Chemistry yet again. (Maybe I’ve passed on the crap Chemistry gene.)

When my children ask for help with their homework, I’m glad to give it. No, I’m lying. After a day of teaching, the last thing I want to do is more of the same. But I do it because that’s what mums do, right?

Well, the problem for me occurs when the subject area in question is something I know next to nothing about. There’s that bloody Chemistry cropping up again.

If my child’s Chemistry teacher cannot make the subject understandable to the class what chance do I have?

I’ll gladly sit with any of my children and explain the intricacies of fractions – vulgar, decimal and how they relate to percentages. No probs. I’ll explain in every way I know how about nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, prepositions and any other grammar or spelling point they need help with. I’ll scrutinise their essays to help them find a better, more understandable, more entertaining way of writing. Hell, I’ll even help them research WWll and that’s been done to death with all of my children and myself as a teacher.

What I absolutely will not do (because I can’t) is try to teach them something I know nothing about. I would just be lying or making it up and that’s no help to anyone although it does prevent you looking like a div in front of your children. But I choose not to do that.

If a subject teacher cannot teach their subject effectively then what are they doing there?

In the case of my own experience with Miss S. I later found out that she was top-notch at her subject. The problem was, she found it all so easy that she just could not see how anyone else had difficulty or where those difficulties might lie.

A number of years ago, a rather fabulous journalist and sometimes agony aunt was reminiscing about her own mum on Mother’s Day. Her mother had been a teacher in a rather elite, private school while said journalist attended the local. A letter home from the school suggested that the mother might like to give some help on a particular subject area. Her mother promptly penned a note to say and I paraphrase.

‘I am paid to teach the children in the school where I work. I presume you are also paid to do the same. Please do so.’


Thanks Miss B.

So I went along to the open evening for my old school’s closure. It was a lovely night.

Best of all, my favourite teacher of all time was there. Miss B., the one who had taught me in Primary 7. She looked fabulous and she must be in her late seventies.

It’s a curious thing. A lot of the teachers I see look amazing after they’ve retired. I’ve got that to look forward to!

I finally got to say to her what I’ve always wanted to say.

‘Thanks. For being the best of my teachers through primary, secondary and college.’

And I got to hug her. She even remembered who I was without me having to tell her. I was delighted.

I wonder how many of my former pupils I will remember when I’m her age. Or how many will remember me.

It’s quite scary to encounter children you have taught with their own kids in tow. You just don’t realise how the years fly.