Monday, 13 October 2008

Closer to Home...

I had to hit the ground running when I got back from Wales. I got home late Tuesday and was out again early Wednesday morning!

Wednesday and Friday were back in Sheffield at Hatfield Primary then Woodhouse West Primary. On Thursday I was in Doncaster at Adwick Washington Infants. All lovely children. I always get to see the best of them, as they are so excited to see me: very few children don't like stories and drawing. Not like the above picture thank goodness! (It's from Spook School. I wanted to show you some of the children's drawings, but my scanner is not co-operating at the moment). It's the perfect way of working with kids. There is rarely any misbehaviour either, partly because I'm new, but also because they don't have time - we cram so much into just an hour or two.

I get better at reading a book, the more times I do it. I do more voices and get the children more involved in the story. I gradually adapt the activities too, according to how kids react. One idea that has really blossomed, came out of the monster in Rocky and the Lamb. We design a crazy creature on the flip chart, by commitee. I get the kids to suggest elements and I incorporate them. I might suggest several alternatives, and we have a vote: pointy horns or curly horns? As they come up with really good ideas, I remember them and suggest them next time: that's how we came up with the rocket-propelled monster and the bogey body! It works so well that I've started to incorporate it as often as I can. The Woodhouse West kids created a 4-eyed, slimy monster with a handbag, a watch and mobile phone.

It's funny: though the children do vary a little in their ability, they are always fun, but it's the staff who vary more. Staffrooms have such different atmospheres. In Woodhouse West everyone was a little mad with was lots of banter back and forth, whereas at Adwick Washington, though individual teachers were supportive, nobody talked to me at all at lunch time, so I went out into the playground and sat talking with the kids instead! I got out my sketchbook and soon had a little huddle, mesmerised by the fact that I had actually, truly done the drawings, for real, yes, by myself.

The other thing that's funny, is the 'school dinner factor'. In some places they are really laid back: if a visitor wants a dinner, the catering ladies are keen to pile your plate. In many schools you have to remember to book your dinner on arrival, or the cook gets tetchy. In Doncaster I remembered to ask, but the message didn't get through. My reception at the dinner hatch was frosty. I got a plastic plate (the other staff got china) and just got lettuce plonked with my jacket potato - not a sniff of the brussels!

By the way, I found this illustration while I was looking for images to brighten up today's blog - a woodlouse school lecture. The things you get to draw!


granny grimble said...

You must know almost as much about schools as Gervais does! Perhaps you'll come back as a teacher or a school inspector!

Lynne Chapman said...

I think I'd rather come back as the same again!