Lost in Translation

The Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy

I haven’t had an anxiety dream for a while, which as far as I am concerned is A Good Thing.  I haven’t run naked through shopping centres, searching fruitlessly for toilets, Baby Sam hasn’t been in a stolen car and left on the side of the road by robbers and I haven’t woken up, heart racing, wondering if I really was pregnant for quite some time.  I know it’s coming though.  In a few days I will no doubt embark upon a series of dreams that will wake me, unpleasantly sweating.  I can even tell you what these dreams will be about.  I will be teaching something, in a classroom, on the school field, up in space, anywhere, and no one will be listening to a word I say.

It doesn’t happen in January.  Neither does it rear its ugly head in May.  No, the time for the bad dreams…

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Looking back


This post is inspired by @chrishildrew who recently posted a letter to his NQT self. It made me think…what have I learnt from a quarter of a century of teaching…and what nuggets of wisdom could I pass on to an NQT ?
My first job was in a primary school as an EAL support teacher and it was a 12 month contract. At the interview I blagged a couple of questions on ethnic minorities and later discovered that the HT was a highly respected expert in the field with several books under her belt!
Rule 1: Do not pretend you know something that you don’t. .you will quickly be found out!! ( fortunately she was very kind about it and gave me a job)
I learnt an awful lot that year and some of my preconceptions were turned on their heads! One thing forcefully hammered home was that racism is…

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Inclusion is a thing, not a place

Primarily Teaching

So the number of Special School places is rising. HURRAH!

‘But, wait-‘ I hear you splutter, ‘Isn’t that a bad thing? You know, inclusion and shit?’

No. And let me tell you for why.

Inclusion is an unhelpful word, without a context.

To me, the whole thing only makes any sense at all if we talk about ‘inclusion in education’: how can we most include a child in the process of being educated? Or in other words, how can we make them learn and flourish as much as possible?

In which case, the question which matters when we talk about inclusion is, ‘In which school setting will this child with these needs learn and flourish the most?’.

Pretty simple.

Sometimes, the answer will be a mainstream school. Sometimes, it will be a Special School. The location has no moral value: it’s a question of where the child’s needs are best…

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The Unknown Mother

The Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy

Sometimes, being a teacher, especially a primary school teacher is a curse.  Education and schools are always in the news, and it’s rarely a good news day.  We seem to be responsible for everything, from childhood obesity to the economy, and not in a good way.  Apart from that, you’re never off duty, you’re always thinking about it, even at weekends and in the holidays, as you drag your family around some educational haunt or another.  There’s always something else you could be doing, something that you are not doing, and there is never, ever, enough time.  It’s exhausting.  But, and here’s the funny thing, for all its pressures, faults and intensity, primary teahing has been my saviour.

Even before Sam was born, in the early years of my career (such as it is), because of my work I understood something that helped me, I am coming to understand, in…

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Not enough time to play

The Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy

It’s a funny thing, the factors you apply when you are looking for a school for your darling children to attend.  When we were looking for the right secondary school for Sam we looked around two, one mainstream and one special, and before we even stepped over the threshold I was breaking my heart over the decision.  Should we continue to keep him in the ‘real’ world, with the friends he’s made at primary school, or should we send him to the smaller, specialised institution where he’d be all on his own, but he wouldn’t be so lost?  It was a big decision.

You’d think, with me being a teacher and all, that I’d be looking at standards and exam results and teaching styles and syllabuses and OfSted reports and all of that jazz.  Were they progressive or traditional, did they engage with educational research, what was the proportion of…

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The Importance of Play


Today is a celebration of all things ‘play’ so I thought I would blog about its importance in our PRU.
My teaching background has its roots in early learning so right from day one I have learned about the importance of play in a creative curriculum. Others more qualified than I can take you through the research side; I wish to focus on its practical and emotional effects.
Some people are surprised to learn that we get very young children with behavioural problems coming to us either on dual placement or following permanent exclusion. Anecdotally we seem to be getting more and more referrals for early intervention with children as young as 4 yrs old and two referrals to one of our panels were for nursery children to come straight in at FS! I have recently had several other conversations with schools who are worried about their intakes next term…

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The Beginning, The Middle and The End from @Ria1984

The Beginning, The Middle and The End

Now I’ve had time to do nothing for a little while after the intense end to a very long half term, I feel I’m ready to reflect on the year.

It was a lot of ‘firsts’ for me…

  • First time with SLD/PMLD pupils – having only worked with MLD before (Had never worked with lower than a P5 previously).
  • First time in KS1 (other than placements) and first time with EYFS.
  • First time with a mixed class (2 key stages/year groups).
  • First time with more than one assistant.

The first term was a difficult time for me – I’d never had children that refused to sit on a chair, or refused to ‘do’ lessons. I spent a lot of time stressing that not all of them were taking part in lessons. It took a LONG time (and sometimes I’m still not quite there) to realise that the world doesn’t end if ‘John’ doesn’t sit in the group for music etc. However, I did have my first observation and got a ‘Good’.

It took me a while to adapt my curriculum/timetable to include my EYFS children – plus my ‘refusers’ in a sense that ‘ok, they’re not doing “Maths” but what are they doing?’ … walking around and opening cupboards and crying isn’t ok! So, I set up free flow activities that (very) loosely link to Maths/English (Ideas for these would be welcome, at the moment it usually ends up being plastic numbers or letters in sand, or shape sorters, or inset puzzles – very samey).

In Spring, I began my ‘free flow’ setting and whilst it’s not perfect (although, probably only in my eyes), it works. However… is it ok that (sometimes) an assistant leads the ‘English’ lesson on a 1:1 basis? I had my second observation, this time from the head and got ‘Outstanding’. However, my most difficult ASD pupil was off that day.

Moving into Summer, not much changed except a lot of staffing issues – so my ‘stress’ (not real stress, only my own OCD panic!) was increased as we dealt with transitions/different staff etc. The relaxation of the timetable occurred towards the end of the second half and I began to look back and wonder…

My biggest wonder is whether I’m getting it right… and how do you know for SLD/PMLD children? The free-flow worked, but is that ok when, next year, I won’t have any EYFS children? Perhaps I just think to much/worry too much about things. In the end, all of the children in my class met their targets… which yes is great, but I set them… so is that really an achievement?

I’m not sure what I expected from this year, but I came from a setting where I was an AST and very well established as a strong member of the team… big fish, small pond. Now I feel like a tiny weeny tiddler of a fish in a massive pond and I’m not sure if its because I’m not getting things right, or because I’m not confident in my ability yet.

Next year, same children different planning. So it will be interesting to see if:
a) I have better authority over my assistants. Working with 3 adults is challenging (more challenging than the kids imo!) and my biggest struggle this year was that they already knew the children, so I felt myself letting them take the lead a lot.
b) I ‘let things go’ easier – I have got better at that as the year as gone on (for example if ‘John’ doesn’t do art how the plan says and does 3 blobs of paint HOH…it’s not the end of the world) but we relaxed the timetable a lot, I will be interested to see if next year when we’re back in full learning mode, that I accept it as easily. (I’d be interested to hear how other teachers deal with similar children in their own setting… my assistants used to say if he’d done 3 blobs (or similar) that he’s done now and ‘We’ve won’ (their words not mine) but surely there’s better ways?

I am looking for other jobs… not particularly sure I want to move but as I said I’m questioning whether this is the right place for me. Trouble is, I know the right place for me is an MLD setting and they’re very few and far between!