The final curtain.

It’s been a long old 3 years. I’m leaving my school for new adventures in a new school, and have said most of my goodbyes, I know that I will see many of my friends and colleagues again soon so it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later. 

Two of those years has been with my lovely little class. I know I winge about them a lot but I’m really going to miss them. Yesterday was my very last day as their teacher. We had a long assembly, a playtime and then our party began. A donut, a few biscuits, some popcorn, lemon squash and a party bag later I was being squashed with gratitude hugs after the children had all opened their gift bags.

When it came to handing out the present bags, I knew that by handing the first child their bag, they’d open it, find the main present, squeal and blurt out the surprise. So I put a few rules in place. Apparently it takes a goody bag with a surprise in to get them to follow an incredibly hard instruction for an 8 year old to actually, physically follow. So the rule was that as I placed their present bag in front of them, they were not allowed to touch it or look inside it. Not until every child had received their bag. Of course, Meerkat, Tigger and the Oracle had to be saved until last because I just could risk trusting them and them then taking a peek, thus spoiling the surprise. Many children needed to sit on their hands because temptation was just too much. Their own choice, not my instruction. 

Once all of the bags had been placed in front of them, I teasingly watched them squirm and giggle with excitement. Only one child was allowed to hold her bag, but only because it kept threatening to fall over and spill its contents onto the table. So she held it up but kept her eyes closed and the bag at arms reach. “Ok when I count to 3 and say have a look inside, you’re allowed to open your bags and check out the loot.” I then had to explain that loot was pirate talk for treasures. Which garnered their attention even more!!!

“1…” they still hadn’t peeked. Unbelievable. 

“2…” they all shuffled on their bottoms and giggled at each other with anticipation. The fact that even Tigger, Meerkat, the Oracle and a few other children were playing along and didn’t peep inside the bag was freaking me out.

“3…” squeals, chuckles and eyes closed shut ready for the magic word… I held on for a few seconds longer and watched them die with the agonising wait.

“Have a look inside!” Everyone of them, immediately, jumped into their goody bags and a chorus of surprised, gobsmacked wonderment filled the room. 

In complete and utter amazement, one boy in my class, who has a very neglected home life, stood up from his seat and hugged me (as tightly as he possibly could with his skinny arms) to say thank you. He received a gift he had been waiting for, for what probably felt like forever to him…all of the other children followed his lead and we ended in up in a massive group hug. 

If there is one thing that I knew my class would appreciate and love, more than anything in the world, it’s a fidget spinner! Many of them have one already. Some have a whole collection of them. I saw them for £1 each at poundworld a few weeks ago and just knew I had to clear the shelf! 

As the children returned to their seats, I explained that obviously they might have a colour they would like to swap, so they were allowed to swap colours but not swap for different items. As swapping began, party whistles were tooting around the classroom and the party was in full swing. I played some music and they all sang along. 

Before lunch, I was hugged many more times and thanked with genuine appreciation. They all knew that I didn’t need to buy them a fidget spinner and some knew how costly they were 😉 because their parents were unable to afford one. They realised that I had shown kindness and spent rather a lot of money on them! The fact that I had bought them one each when Tigger announced that they are usually “roughly 6 quid each!” Left echoes of gasps and thanks around the room. 

I know that for many of my children, they will probably spend the summer having gorgeous holidays, playing outside and doing lots of fun things with their parents, but for others it’s a whole 6 weeks of games console amusement and fast food eating whilst entertaining themselves. I’ll probably never find out how their summers were, but I’ve loved every minute of being their teacher. Even the challenging minutes of the days in hindsight. I know that I’ve said goodbye to them the best way I know how and despite initial tears a few weeks ago, they were all emotionally ready to say goodbye on the last day. I was sad to see them go but held back the tears to keep the moment happy and cheerful. Just how I’d like to be remembered by them all. Rather than the grumpy teacher that complains when they forget to use a ruler for underlining the date or haven’t followed an instruction to the T.

The best part of the day was at the very end when Tigger told his Nan that I’d bought them all a fidget spinner each. He told her that I’m so rich, I live in a mansion with an Aston Martin AND a Bugatti in the driveway! 😂 oh the stories that child can think up. I’m going to miss him.

I’m going to miss them all. 

Ripping off the plaster.

Today, my class have spent an amazing day with their new teacher. After suffering with my awful jokes, random requests, stories and day to day bossiness for almost 2 years, they are more than ready for a new teacher. Despite what they might think. 

I’ve spent two weeks building up to today, preparing them and making it an exciting day to look forward to. For some children, it has been more of a stressful time than for others. Not knowing, makes things scary scometimes and not knowing who their next teacher would be, next year, has been scary for them. They’ve worried, they’ve lost sleep, they’ve badgered me for so long to find out who their new teacher is. Usually, I’m rubbish at keeping secrets and surprises, but actually, I’ve done quite a good job at keeping this secret inside.

During assembly this morning, I reminded my class, several times, in fact, to sit beautifully, in case their new teacher was watching. (Even when he wasn’t in the hall, yet!) They all wanted a well known year 4 teacher. When they found out it wasn’t me, she seemed to be the next best thing. Then they found out that she wasn’t even teaching year 4 next year, so they clung to the next best thing after that, another popular and well known year 4 teacher. This morning, they found out that in fact, they had a male teacher. Some were excited and some were still unsure. None of them seemed to notice that I followed them to their new classroom and then disappeared without a class of my own, after that. 

As I’ve seen them around school today, when asked how they like their new teacher, they’ve been mostly positive. Even the ones who weren’t sure initially. He seems nice and appears to more bossy than me, as if there is such a thing? If I had a pound coin for every time one of them has asked me who my new class are next year, I’d be good for the summer! For them, it’s been a fun filled day of getting to know a new teacher whilst I’ve printed all of their reports and planned some fun things to do in our final weeks together. 

But the tears had to come sometime. 

When they returned from their transition day with their new teacher, I broke the heartbreaking, earth shattering news that I actually have not been with my new class today. At first they were confused so I carried on explaining that I don’t have a class in this school next year. One child even asked me if I would be cooking the dinners instead. Thankfully, the school is safe from food poisoning because I’m going to be teaching at a different school. When it finally clicked, half of their heads hit the table as they let the news sink in. As I carried on explaining that I am going to be teaching year 6 in a different school in Peterborough, the tears started. A quarter of my class started sobbing and couldn’t hold back the tears myself. 

I announced a party on our very last day together, handed out invitations and tried to cheer them up with watermelon slices. For some, it worked, for the criers, they needed to splash some water on their face and grab some tissues. I hid my tears behind my sunglasses and started a game of ‘heads down, thumbs up’. 

As I sent them out of the door at 3:05pm, some children, who had been strong and held the tears in, crumbled once they reached their parents – which garnered some weird looks from the mums and dads outside. No doubt I’ll be popular on the playground tomorrow morning. 🙄

So I did it. I revealed the secret I’ve been keeping from my class, since March. It feels great. It’s also very sad. I’ll tell you one thing though. I’m so glad that I did it at the end of the day today, rather than at the start of the day tomorrow. I don’t think I could find enough tissues in the school or deal with the howling sobbing coming from some of the children. The last hometime is going to be excruciating and emotional one for us all, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. 😂

All you need is positivity.

In the current education climate, it is very difficult to be positive about the job. The hours are long, the work is relentlessly tiring and support is somewhat lacking from the higher powers that be.

When I look at all of the Instagram posts of teachers in the USA and Australia, it seems, to me, that maybe they love their job more than we do in the UK. They find joy in the smaller and simpler things in the classroom. They laugh at the incredible bloopers that happen and the massive LOLs that occur. The share their teaching styles, bargain finds at Target 🎯, their successes and epic fails. But most importantly of all, they openly share everything with each other. Granted Teachers Pay Teachers provides a little extra income for shared resources as well, but they don’t hesitate for a moment to help each other out. They share because they care. 

It’s created a positive environment online that allows me to see the good within the job I have. When I momentarily forget why I do what I do, day in and out, I look at Instagram and the many American and Australian teachers that I follow, and I feel lucky to be just like them. Lucky to teach amazing children, lucky to be able to help improve the future, lucky to be able to see amazing practise online and replicate it in my own classroom. Sometimes, it doesn’t quite work with my classs, so I adapt what I see and find what does work. 

These teachers, that are half way across the globe, are inspiring me to be a better teacher for my class. 

I know that I moan a lot in exasperation with my day to day antics, but I know there is more positive aspects to my career than I can maybe see. There’s more appreciation for the simpler classroom hacks that we fail to recognise in our exhausted and negative state of mind. I’ve decided to improve my positivity on social media accounts. Share my ideas, the LOLs, amazing displays, my OCD organisation and resources that I make. 

Keep up to date with me online via instagram: the_exasperated_teacher_blog 

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…🤒🙄😂