🎶Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…🎶

We all love a good school trip. We all have those delightful parents who we love to invite along on the school trips with us. However, we also have those nightmare parents who we suddenly have to take on a school trip and by the end of the day, wish we hadn’t bothered, but suffered on our own instead.

July 2016 was a school trip to the seaside that I’ll never forget and not for the reasons you probably think. Nobody drowned – although I sure wish I had even attempted to do so with hindsight. Nobody had an allergic reaction to the Mr Whippy ice cream, nobody except me! Nobody was eaten by a crab at the sea life centre, although judging by the sounds I heard, you would be mistaken for believing so… nobody left their mobile phone in the sea life centre toilets…oh wait, yes she did do that!

Who could I be talking about, I hear you ask? His lordship’s mother, that’s who! His behaviour leading up to the school trip was becoming increasingly erratic and unpredictable. I wasn’t so sure it was a good idea to take him to a place with open water, where he could potentially drown himself or another child. Or heaven forbid that I should “accidentally” feed him to the sharks at the sea life centre. Management decided that he could only go if his mum would chaperone him on the trip. He would be her sole responsibility for the day which would allow the school staff to concentrate on the safety of the other children. 

The day started off drastically with my TA arriving poorly, determined to come along and not let us down, but I’d put her in charge of his lordship and his mother, it didn’t seem fair to force her to deal with them when she wasn’t at her best game, so we sent her home. The amazing Mrs K galliantly took over the position and suffered his lordship and his mother for the day. And she handled it like a real trooper. (Mrs K, you were my hero that day. x)

 

Before we assembled onto the coaches, I had the awkward task of asking his mum for a signature on a disclaimer which stated that he would be her responsibility for the day. She signed it begrudgingly and started moaning about how she had to sign it and why she even had to be there anyway. 

School staff had a conversation with all adults on the trip, including his lordship’s mother. We requested that they avoid using their mobile phones whilst helping in the trip that day. A request that she frequently disregarded, all day. 

When we set off for the seaside, a 90 minute journey away, we had only made it 5 minutes down the road when his lordship started asking if we were there yet. His mum was playing on her phone and every time he peered over her shoulder to look at what she was doing, she moved the phone away from him and told him to leave her alone. He started moaning that he was bored already. I wasn’t going to spend a 90 minute journey listening to his moaning, so I pulled out a school iPad from my rucksack. I offered it to him, in front of mum’s nose. He told me it wasn’t “his iPad” (iPad 43) but I had made certain that it was. I didn’t let go of the iPad until he had said thank you. In front of his mum. Blatantly trying to make it obvious that I was supporting her child more than she was at this moment in time. 

The rest of the journey was fine. Mum made a few phone calls on her phone and moaned about how noisy the other children were being, seeing that they were on the way to the seaside. (For some children, for the first time ever!) They were bound to be excitable and noisy. Not that her son was ever quiet and low key anyway. 

 

We arrived at the seaside and set off on our walk to get ice creams, it wasn’t exactly a warm start to the day, so it was pretty chilly and sticky. Luckily, I had a rucksack full of baby wipes at the ready. His lordship on sugary Mr Whippy ice cream was too much for his mum to bear so she wandered off to the toilets. For a whole 30 minutes, almost, we waited around for his mum and the most restless child, of course, was her own. 

When she eventually returned, it was time to quick march down the promenade to the sea life centre. Weaving in and out of the slower, relaxed pedestrians, we made our way to our next destination. The sea life centre. We were ushered into a smal room with a man made rock pool inside. We learned about jellyfish, crabs, starfish, oysters and other sea life creatures that the children mentioned. Some children were brave enough to touch and hold a crab or starfish. His lordship squealed like a pig whenever the creatures came near him. His mum, credit to her, was straight in there and joined the other children to stroke and hold one the rock pool creatures. After our lesson, we were allowed to stroll through the aquariums and exhibits, but we had to walk back through the gift shop again. With our hands in the air, so we didn’t touch or break anything on our way through! 

A short while later, we were ready for lunch and a play on the sand. After inhaling my sandwich, I walked a few children down to the shore tentatively, as the rocks and shells were sharp on our feet. We avoided a massive puddle of seawater and dipped our toes in the waves. The children were frolicking and laughing whilst jumping over the waves. It was blissful. His lordship was nowhere to be seen until Mrs K walked her group down to the shore as well. Her group was ready to have some fun, and so was his lordship. He completely disregarded the instructions to stay close by and ran down the shoreline. His mum stood some distance away from the shore, on her phone. She looked up and couldn’t see him, so started shouting for him, (I say shouting, it was more of a lacklustre call of his name) she spotted him and called him again, quietly though. I inhaled deeply and used my loudest teacher voice possible to call over the waves, the wind and frolicking children to tell him his Mum was calling him. Mrs K gave me that look. That look, which told me that she was done. Together, we silently judged her parenting and carried on watching the other children in the waves trying to avoid getting soggy shorts and skirts, but failing miserably. 

Mrs K and I walked the children back to the promenade and watched as they all looked for pebbles, shells and tiny bits of sea weed. His lordship, and his mum, went back into the sea life centre to use the facilities. (Don’t tell anybody we snook a quick class photo in, whilst his lordship was in the sea life centre. 😆) When it was time to head back to the coaches, we made sure all the children had been to the toilets, again, and counted them for the hundredth time that day. We lined up ready and then the final straw broke the camel’s back. His lordship’s mum had misplaced her phone. She couldn’t find it in her bag, his bag or her pockets. She used my phone to call hers to try and find it. I quickly deleted and blocked her number from my phone. She sauntered back to the sea life centre and found it there, but made no effort to hurry back to us, so we could get back to school on time. 

The whole journey back to school, his lordship played on the iPad again. His mum was on her phone and ignored him for most of the 90 minute journey. She did however ask, on a few occasions, what time I thought we’d arrive back at school, because she had a train to catch for her weekend of raving in London…she hadn’t packed her suitcase yet and needed to get it out of the loft. I reassured her that, with good traffic, we’d hopefully arrive at our expected time of return. She sighed as though it wasn’t good enough for her. I sighed in exasperation over how she had been more trouble than she was worth. She had insisted that her son didn’t miss out on this school trip, just because he couldn’t behave as expected in a classroom, yet she had been more troublesome than he had. I made a mental note that on the next trip, it would be more use to have a school TA as a dedicated 1:1 for him, than drag her along and force her to interact with her own child. 

It sounds mean, but Mrs K and I had spent the day waiting around for her, listening to her moan about how we weren’t doing our jobs properly for her son, when even she couldn’t give him the time of day. It annoyed us both, but we rose above it and soldiered on. We were dead by 4pm, when we arrived back at school. I honestly couldn’t believe that I had survived. I think, knowing that Mrs K had my back, made me reach the finishing line as effortlessly as I did. It might surprise you to know, that she was the first person off the coach, with her son in tow, to try and get home and make it to the train station in time. Thankfully, that was the first and last school trip I had with his lordship. Thank goodness. 

Tonsillitis tears.


In the 7 years that I have been teaching, I’ve never had a day off work because I am sick. I’ve always pulled myself together and mastered through. I hate having the feeling of letting down my teaching team, leaving them in the lurch, but I also hate feeling like I’m abandoning my class. I’ve always said, that unless it is impossible for me to talk or walk, I will be in school. No. Matter. What.  

Last term, my 7 year record finally ended. I had tonsillitis. I  couldn’t talk without my eyes watering because I had such a sore and a swollen throat, massively painful difficulties in swallowing anything, even water and an extremely guilty conscience. Physically, I was healthy everywhere else. Just a small area of my body, that happened to be my most important teaching tool inside the classroom, had given up on me.

My class can be very kind and caring when I’m under the weather. It’s one of their best qualities. If I say I’ve got a headache and would rather be at home, they pull it together, look after me and make sure everyone else is doing exactly as I’ve asked them to before they check themselves. However, their inability to listen to each other, or adults carefully, is one of their worst qualities and even worse when you are struggling to talk. On the Friday before my week off, as much as I love them, they broke my voice and probably made it worse than it could’ve been if I’d stayed at home that day. That would be my own stubborn fault, not theirs though. My TA and I were both suffering with sore throats and my voice was ready to give up. The afternoon went by and even the challenging children were picking up the slack for me. Announcing tidy up time, or shouting instructions to sit at English tables, or which table needed to grab their home time things from the cloakroom. They were a huge help, but barely listened to each other. 

I drove home and tried to eat something but couldn’t really swallow it. I made a warm drink and headed to the out of hours clinic where I was told, it was nothing to be concerned about. Just a viral infection. I couldn’t have antibiotics but should just keep drinking lots of water, stay hydrated and take pain relievers if necessary. On Sunday, I woke up and couldn’t even open my mouth to brush my teeth. I knew I’d need to go back to the walk in clinic and any doctor that I’d see, would probably want to take a look inside my mouth too, so I slotted my toothbrush in between my lips and tried to brush my teeth the best I could. Arriving at the doctors, I walked into the room and tried to explain what was wrong. I’d come prepared with my usual handbag full of pens and post it notes. I wrote down what was wrong and he took a look inside my mouth. When he tried to open my mouth, tears poured from my eyes like waterfalls because it was so painful to open my jaw. The back of my throat felt like it was being ripped apart like a bread roll. It was so painful, I was crying and couldn’t stop myself. 

I was finally prescribed some antibiotics as my tonsils had swollen and were incredibly infected. My uvula (the dangly thing at the back of your throat) was also incredibly swollen and hideously infected. No longer small, pink and tucked away at the back of my throat, it was about the size of my thumb, resting on my tongue and a grosse yellow colour. Along with my swollen tonsils, it was the reason why I couldn’t swallow anything except ice cold water or slidey custard. Nothing was going past that swollen lump at the back of my mouth. 

I’d spent the weekend in and out of walk in clinics, pharmacies, and eating as much custard and drinking as much ice cold water as I possibly could. On Saturday and Sunday nights, I had been waking up at random moments in the night, but coincidentally, they’d coincide with some of my tablet times. In the early hours of Monday morning, I’d suffered through 3 hours of torture to move the times to more sociable hours, starting from 5:00am. I emailed in sick and managed to nap my way through most of the working morning. My life entered a viscious cycle of eat custard, attempt to swallow pills, sleep, repeat. This happened for 3 days, until I decided that I couldn’t bare to look at the same four walls any longer. 

During my short time off, I was desperate to be useful. I wasn’t doing anything worthwhile at home. Jeremy Kyle was going to be the death of me. I had changed from eating custard to eating different flavours of jelly to save my sanity, but it wasn’t enough. I began thinking about all of the jobs I could be doing instead of sitting around my house. I’d already painted my bathroom walls, cleaned out the kitchen cupboards and hoovered the home more times than I think I have since I moved into my little house. I asked if I could have some books to do my assessments, but was told I needed to rest. I’d rested enough though. I was bored and getting agitated at how useless I was becoming. I could see the assessment data deadline edging closer and I was incapable of doing anything for it, because I was stuck at home. 

An email to management in school sorted a suitable solution to the problem, I could return to work, but to do assessments in the planning room only. I wasn’t to be in class or spend too much time talking. I skipped into school, happy to see smiling faces and 3D people who could actually interact back to me. I managed to get my data done and finalised before the weekend, which left me 2 days to prepare my voice and diet for a 2 day residential on Monday. 

I’ve never been so happy to be back in school. I walked out to greet my class, on that Thursday, to cheers and smiles from both the children and their parents. I received many hugs from  children walking past me, telling me that they missed me and hoped I was feeling better. I gathered the children into the classroom and explained I was back, but not in class. They would have a supply teacher for the next 2 days but I would be popping in to wave and collect some books now and then. Disappointed groans echoed in the room and I felt an enormous wave of guilt wash over me. I knew I couldn’t stay in class though. I had too much assessment data to finalise and it really wouldn’t do my voice any good to start teaching again. I popped into class throughout the day and realised that my class did indeed love me. (Although they have a funny way of showing it sometimes.) They stole hugs as I tried to walk past them with my arms full of books. They followed me across the room and opened doors for me. They tried to follow me to the planning room, for no other reason than to chat with me and tell me how much they missed me. 

It made me re-realise that I love my class too, and though I’ll never verbally admit to it, I missed them on those 3 days more than actually being able to speak. They’re already dropping hints about when I’m their teacher in year 4, next year, and I’m going to feel so terrible when I break the news to them, that I will not be their teacher next year. Not at all. I won’t even be in the school next year, as I’ve already made plans to teach in a different school. There’s going to be oh so many tears in July, mostly from me, but at least I’ll be going out on a high. 

The Evil Easter Bunnies


It feels like this has been the longest term ever. Probably because I had an entire week of being absent with tonsillitis in the middle. My TA then had a few days off with tonsillitis before we had a residential trip the week after. 

My class are a nightmare right now. I just want the term to be over. They aren’t listening to us, they can’t shut up for even a minute to hear a simple direction. We feel like we are watching them completely ignore whatever we say. Since our bouts of tonsillitis, a few weeks ago, both of our voices/throats are still fragile and in need of some proper rest over the Easter holiday. 

The class don’t seem to get that and whilst suffering without us for a week, they’ve become the complete opposite to how they’ve been for most of the year. It’s amazing how a week away, trying to rest and recuperate so we can return, sends your class into complete disarray. 

Today ended with 7 children on a warning, on the sad side of the behaviour chart, just for not listening and talking during learning tasks, or worse, rudely talking over other children and adults!! (Something we strictly condemn in our class.) 5 children are in detention tomorrow lunchtime and if they carry on tomorrow, many more could be joining them before we even get to playtime…

Bless their amazing parents/collectors though. They all agreed and understood why I’d given their, usually amazing, child a detention. They didn’t even question it. They accepted it and said that “words would be had” at home later on. I’m so thankful that most of the parents in my class are so supportive in these situations. If any parent had kicked up a fuss over the detention, I’d have gladly invited them into the classroom for a day to see how they manage to teach a class full of ignorant, self absorbed monsters that I appear to have gained over the last 3 weeks, and get them to make any progress in this current mood as well!

As I glanced across the room, before I walked out of my classroom, I noticed a pair of trainers, on the floor at the back of the room, that I’ve asked a child to put inside their PE kit bag a gazillion times this week already. They’re probably one of a few children in my class, who has any common sense and wits about them. Usually, if I ask them to do something, they do it straight away, or soon after. But even they have developed a hearing problem apparently… so I just had to… I could’ve added expletives to the note, but I held back – after some deep breathing and checking on my attitude. 


I feel sorry for the angels though. The ones that even when the others have turned into selfish, fussy, deaf monsters, their halos keep shining bright. The six children who earned a house point each today because they have been patiently (and also exasperatedly) waiting for the others to be quiet and listen. It’s such a shame that they have their education wasted by selfish and uncaring peers. 

I’m not even joking, if my (mostly horrible, at the moment) class don’t stop ignoring simple directions like “sit down on your chair”, “write your long date on the TOP(!!!!!!!!) line neatly and underline it” etc and continue to do whatever they blooming well please, instead of listening and learning, I’m going to force the little blighters to sit and watch my wonderfully, and equally exasperated, TA and I, eat their chocolate eggs in front of them…

I’ll label each egg with a child’s name and if they shout out again, talk over a peer or adult unnecessarily, ignore instructions, mess around, or continue to do anything but listen and learn…We’re going to eat their chocolate egg! In front of them!

We won’t make Easter cards, we won’t make Easter treats, we won’t even have an Easter egg hunt. I’ll cancel all the fun activities for them and we will fill the last 2 days with spelling tests and lots of writing – which they hate immensely!!!!!

Because, yes, I am that mean!

My TA and I?

We’re fed up of repeating ourselves.

We’re fed up of watching them completely disregard any directions/instructions that we give them. 

We’re done.

End of story.

We can’t do this anymore. 

Can it be Easter break already?

Please?🙏🏼

We need it. (And so do the children!)