The Feng-shui classroom

If only my body was a true representation of the amount of exercise I do in my classroom: 

  • Walking around the maze of tables,
  • Hurdling over those untucked chairs,
  • Squatting down to hear “little” secrets and stories, 
  • Squatting even lower to retie shoelaces or refasten shoe buckles,
  • Catching those flying pencils, mid air, 
  • The quick reflex saving of “could be” accidents when children swing back on their chairs, 
  • Carrying stacks of books to the tables,
  • Hauling shopping bags of books from my car – to the other end of school every morning and evening, 
  • Dragging my swivel chair back to the table (without getting off the seat is all in those calf and hamstring muscles – feel the burn!) 
  • Climbing onto furniture to stick displays up above the display board space (being short is such a disadvantage in my tall ceiling classroom,)
  • Holding my hands high in the air for 5 straight minutes whilst I’m waiting for the children to drop their pencils and actually listen to me,

and finally, 

  • Manouvering classroom furniture all around the room several times in one term because suddenly, every child needs their own table since they are incapable of working together, harmoniously, anymore! 

It’s been a rough term. Supposedly a short one too, although it has felt quite the opposite! Tigger has made it his lifetime ambition to earn as many red time outs and scored a hat trick on Friday. The Oracle is pestering me as to whether his behaviour report has lots of smiley faces or not and the Tea Leaf can’t keep his light fingers to himself. 

    I predict that this last week of the current term is going to drag itself along the way so slowly, a 100 year old tortoise, plagued with tortoise arthritis, will be overtaking us on hump day…😩

    So since the easter break, my class have endured weekly, sometimes daily, room layout changes. The Oracle can no longer work with his ability group. He’s picking fights and can’t seem to share resources peacefully. I moved him onto his own table at the back and placed Tigger in his old seat. 

    When they both came to blows at the back of the classroom, one day, I moved Tea Leaf off of his own table to join the lowest ability table again, so the Oracle could sit right under my nose at the front of the room. That way, he’d have no reason (whatsoever!) to turn around and look at the children, that are apparently annoying him, unless he wanted me to see him facing the back of the room and immediately enquire as to what was more entertaining at the back of the room, than my amazing teaching right in front of him?! (To which I would definitely receive a blank face and muted response!) 

    Tigger remained at the back of the room under the calming influence of my highest ability group. All was fine for 2 amazingly glorious days. Until…

    Tigger’s behaviour began escalating until it escalated beyond my wildest nightmares. I knew it was too good to be true. 🙄 Apparently, 2 days exposure to the Oracle’s previous seat on that table has resulted in a back chatting, attitude filled, argumentative, bottle flipping, pencil flicking (and chewing), toilet loitering, fidget spinner x-ray vision seeer, across the room shouting, annoying little 💩. 

    He’s been on a behaviour report all term and it’s starting to lose any effect it had since those two amazing days where he was a model pupil. That was just two weeks ago. Tigger’s had more detentions than necessary to warrant seclusions and quite frankly, if it wasn’t for him, my class would most likely have enough marbles in the jar for ice cream sundaes on the last day. He might be trying to help keep my purse strings tight but quite frankly, he’d be doing us all a favour if he just shut up, focussed on the learning, without acting up for attention, and let us all get on with the day so we can actually achieve something other than another 3 red time out detentions in one day!!! 

    Now my class is half Victorian style, half Miss A style. I’m a lover of big group tables. I’m no longer allowed big group tables because 3 particular children need their own tables… to themselves…away from each other!  

    The Tea Leaf is so far behind the rest of his peers, he literally cannot do the same work as even the lowest ability group because he brings so much emotional baggage to school, he can’t focus. If he can’t focus, he can’t learn. If he can’t learn, he’s finding other things to do instead, such as distract and mess around with other children on the table, which then hinders their learning and progress…it’s just relentlessly useless. A viscious cycle of problems that make the classroom more challenging than it really needs to be. 

    So where do I put everybody? The Oracle can’t co-operate peacefully or share at all. He is even starting arguments with the most peaceful of class members. Tigger is unfocused and disruptive when he has an audience to perform to. Tea Leaf can’t work with others because he finds it too hard to work without an adult sitting next to him and constantly remind him to do the next question, start the next line next to the margin, simple things that the rest of the class are doing independently now.  He just finds distractions and disrupts the table without a 1:1. So that is three children who need their own space. 

    Amongst that, there is a range of other children who can’t sit together: the giggling girls, the fidgety boys, the hairdressing girls, the chatty, silly boys who would rather flick pencils than use them to write with, the bossy leaders who can’t agree fairly, unless by fair you mean their way or no other way! 

    “How many different ways can 16 tables be rearranged in a classroom to suit all ability, compatibility, emotional, social and physical needs and requirements of each child?” This dilemma would make a great Y6 SATs Maths paper question, I think! Or possibly even a GCSE question because sometimes it gives me such a headache tying to solve it by myself. 

    So far, I’ve recalled 9 ways, it possible the total is already in double digits and I’ve just forgotten some of the ways the tables have been arranged because, well it probably didn’t work in practise so was quickly changed or adapted ever so slightly, it wasn’t worth counting it! 

    However, once all of the tables are arranged, you then have to assign seats to each child based on compatibility with peers, ability in certain subjects, physical requirements (hearing or vision provisions), languages (Polish, Lithuanian, English, Czech, Romanian, Bulgarian, Vietnamese…) in an attempt to create the right Feng shui which will allow your class to learn and enjoy learning without even a wobble along the way. 

    It’s all just one giant headache that teachers could really do without…and this meme genuinely sums it all up! 

    When I finally find a magical solution to the feng shui classroom, I’ll make sure that sharing it, is the first thing that I do! 

    I wish my teacher knew about me…

    Today I managed to do something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time with my class. The weather, today, has allowed us to have some spare time (playtime, but the children didn’t really notice) to finally get round to doing it. Thank goodness for rainy days and wet playtimes! 

    So I introduced the task and explained to the children that they could tell me anything they wanted. Absolutely anything… exciting news, hidden talents, worries or concerns, something I didn’t already know about them. To make it slightly more fun, they used some of my fancy post it notes with lines to write on! Oh the excitement that hushed around the room! Due to some of the children’s information that they wanted to tell me, some it quite personal or confidential, I said that if they didn’t want anybody to see it, they could fold it up, write their name on the outside and hand it to me. 

    I collected them all in and promised to read them after school, when no other children would be able to read over my shoulder and see what they’d written. Some of them have written more on this one post it, than they’ve ever written in their English book. Obviously, they had a lot to tell me! 

    Some of the responses I read after school today: 

    I have been to hospital 4 times in my life so far.

    I think I’m getting a kitten at some point, soon.

    Every time I go in the bath, my hair turns brown.

    Every time I get ten out of ten on my spellings, my dad gives me £1.00 to spend on sweets. 

    My sister always lets me paint my nails with her nail varnishes. She has lots of different colour nail varnishes. 

    I have been to Disneyland and Legoland and they were so much fun!

    I have moved house.

    I am funny.

    I have 3 older brothers.

    I am half like a year 3 and half like a year 4.

    I am a talented football player.

    I am very scared of the dark.

    I am worried when I am at school.

    I can do gymnastics in my house.

    I am talented in skipping.

    I would like to be a footballer when I am grown up.

    My sister annoys me at home.

    I am going to get a white fidget spinner that lights up in the dark.

    I like to do sport and yoga.

    I worry when we do times table tests because I might get a score of zero.

    I can do a backflip on the trampoline.

    I do ballet after school now and it’s really fun. 

    I have a cat called Cookie.

    I can play the cello.

    There was some worries and news shared that I’m going to have to follow up over the next few days. But most of them, were down right cuteness overload. 

    Flipping fidget spinners!!!

    Since they have become the latest nuisance in the classroom, four have disappeared from my class. I know I have some light fingered tea leafs in the class, but unfortunately, the children still insist on bringing these into school. 

    A letter was sent home last week, from the school to parents, with clear instructions that the spinners are for playtimes only. If a teacher sees one during learning time, it will be confiscated and returned to the child at the end of the day. 

    Immediately, my class, willing to throw each other under the bus, happily alerted my TA or me to a child who had one hidden in their trouser pocket. Like they expected us to rifle through children’s pockets looking for spinners. 

    So the first spinner went missing last week and admittedly, I had no clue what they were, or what they even looked like. So whilst each child brought their bag and coat into the classroom, I was searching for a spinny thing that I didn’t even know existed. (Yes I live under a rock when I’m not in school.) 

    It was no where to be found. The child’s mum even said, at the end of the day, that she should not have brought it into school anyway. Consequently, tears happened and I exasperatedly apologised for being of no use with a helpful solution to the problem. 

    Another spinner went missing on Wednesday and I was getting fed up of spending 30 minutes at the end of the day checking trays, bags and coats to try and find spinners. (Now I knew what they looked like – thanks Google!) 

    On Thursday, I decided enough was enough when 2 more spinners had gone missing. If I couldn’t trust my class to respect each other’s property, then I was going to have to be petty. 

    First thing, Friday morning, I collected all spinners in at the start of the day. At first, only one child willingly handed their spinner to me, knowing I’d be a safer carer of it than their tray/bag. I laid on the risk factor and reminded them that somebody in our class was being very unkind and mistrustful by taking other children’s spinners from their bags and trays. “Mums and Dads have spent some *hard earned* money on these spinners. It would be a shame to see their money wasted by allowing another child to steal your spinner from your tray, when it could be locked away in the cupboard for safe keeping.” Another 2 spinners appeared in the basket. I locked them inside the cupboard and then the children were allowed to collect them at playtimes, lunch and the end of the day. I listed the owners on a post it note so I could call them out to collect their spinner, should they wish to play with it at some point during their free time…

    Halfway trough Friday morning, I was also given a mobile phone. A child in my class, 7 years old, has their own mobile phone. I wasn’t even allowed to use the landline by myself at 7. If I wanted to speak to my friend then I went outside, or over to their house, to speak to them. So the phone went into the basket as well and we locked them all away safely, until the end of the day. 

    And no spinners (or phones) went missing on Friday. Hurray! 


    Lets play a little game. Let’s see how many times I’ve likely muttered/internally screamed “WTF?!” to myself this afternoon…

    Tigger has been on an absolute trip, so far, this week. He had two brilliant days at the end of last week…the best 2 days he’s ever had. I thought I had a new Tigger. A better, improved version. Tigger 2.0. Boy was I wrong? He’s returned. With a vengeance. To a point where I am very close to losing my hair, sanity or job. 

    I’ve never felt the need to physically watch a child every second of the day. You can literally warn him about his behaviour and how it is impacting his learning and the learning of children around him, turn around to answer another child’s question about the activity…and he’s doing something else equally as annoying and inappropriate. WTF?! Even the head came to speak to him today and he’s mentioned that issues on the playground, in the morning, are affecting his learning and choices in behaviour. WTF?
    Personally, I’m calling bullshit on the whole thing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He thinks he’s being hilarious and mature by acting the fool. Burping in other children’s faces, WTF? answering back, WTF? asking ridiculous questions, WTF? throwing rubbers, WTAF? swinging on his chair, WTF? flicking pencils, WTF? turning his sheet into a paper airplane, WTAF?! blatantly lying about things he knows nothing about, WTF? Refusing to take responsibility for his actions WTAF and lying to his parents about whether or not he did or did not turn his work into a paper airplane this afternoon…W.T.A.F?

    At one moment, Tigger was getting frustrated with his consequences and having to be moved down the behaviour chart, that he was getting rather angry. Not as angry as I was getting though. He shouted across the room at other children to stop looking at him. He stormed out of the classroom in a furious rage, was instructed to come back inside and deal with the issue more maturely. Sitting at the back of the classroom, he was slowly calming himself down until Chief Meerkat decided to “improve” the situation by laughing at Tigger then proceeded to stick his tongue out at him. Like WTAF?! WTF do you think you are doing? Helping? No. landing yourself a detention too? Yes indeed.

    Both boys had already been in detention this afternoon. Tigger was supposed to have a detention for the entire lunchtime, but when I walked past a fun and exciting club room, at 1pm, there he was, playing and having fun, during his entire lunchtime detention. I called him out and decided to keep him with me until the end of lunch. He tidied the cloakroom and bookshelf. It was his best ten minutes of the day actually.

    Also this afternoon, the Oracle decided to crawl underneath a locked toilet cubicle door, which he probably locked in the first place, let’s be honest, and drench his school uniform in urine from the floor in the process. 🙄  WTAFiddyF?!. When I explained to his mum after school why he’d changed into his PE kit this afternoon, she actually said what I could not. “WTF?!” She censored herself but the intention was clear. 

    What do the boys in my class think they have been doing today? 

    Draining their teachers of all of their energy, patience, sanity and happiness?

    Earning as many time out detentions as possible? 

    Am I looking forward to going back to school tomorrow? 

    Yes because I’m not in class! 😁 But on Thursday? I might have food poisoning, or something…🤒🙄😂

    ArticulaTe those Ts!!

    In my classroom, these elocution lesson generally happen during a Maths lesson. The mental and oral starter is a great time to practise counting in multiples of any number. 

    In my class, we range from being able to count in 12s to 144, all the way down to only being able to count in 1s to 20 accurately. But, something I can almost guarantee will happen 100% of the time, is that when we start counting in 2s. This will happen:

    “Zero, two, four, six, eight, ten, twelf, fourtee, sixtee, eightee, twenny, twennytwo, twennyfour, twennysix, twennyeigh, firtee!”

    And then they will all sit there, smug little things, smiling with pride whilst I find the nearest wall to hit my head against. 

    We’ve been over this countless times. Every time we count in 2s, actually – How to pronounce our numbers correctly. Unfortunately, the catchment area that I work in is incapable of pronouncing the t at the end of twenty. 😞 It drives me mad. I’m constantly fighting a losing battle to have the t in twenty recognised and pronounced whilst counting. 

    This isn’t the only time it happens. Sentences such as “ent ah?”, “Summit th ma’er?”, “can I ‘ave a drink o’ war’er please?” And “can I go toiluh please?” I’m not expecting my class to speak the Queen’s English, by any stretch of the imagination, but to pronounce the letters in the word correctly, would be amazing. 

    Just this morning, the answer of “twenny,” was provided in our Maths lesson. “Sorry it’s my accent,” was the quick reply after my correction. Later on, the same child confessed that he “couldn’t work properly this morning because of his accent.” Jog on buddy. 

    To make matters worse, I’m slowly developing a twang of my own that slips out whenever I’m talking to adults, my family and friends in another county in particular. I’m slowly starting to talk like my class. (Luckily, not in the classroom though.) 

    Somebody please save me. (And my accent,)