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Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Sometimes it's almost worthwhile

I'm a teacher.

Oh my goodness, that sounds like I've just stood up in a Pedagogues Anonymous and made a confession, but it is a fact.

I'm a teacher.

It's an amazingly complex job, not terribly well paid, often stressful, but we get good holidays and the opportunity to see our young people develop into adults. (I'm talking about the students here, not our probationary teachers)

But sometimes, we get a little boost, often from an unexpected source.

My year 10 ICT (15 year olds) class were working on Spreadsheet exercises, mostly quite quietly.  Our Board and Principal made the decision last year to allow the possession and use of MP3 players in classes at appropriate times. 

I obviously do not allow their use during an instructional session, but when the kids are working on their problems and exercises, developing their computer skills, I see nothing wrong with them listening to their music (horrible though most of it is.  Shoot the rappers) and they do seem to work in a more focused fashion.

One of my more troublesome boys (I'll call him Bob)  had been off for a week, and was back for the first time.  He had missed the entire introduction to the operation and use of spreadsheets, and as I gave the class today's exercise (SUM, AVERAGE, MIN, MAX function formulae) he was looking a bit worried.

I told Bob as I passed the sheets out, that I would be back later to go over the more basic stuff later, but to try and follow my examples on the SmartBoard to complete today's exercise.

I did the demo on the board, getting the kids to follow as I demonstrated the different formulae and tools, then asked them to work on the exercise sheet I had given out.

The class was mostly quiet, with a low buzz of quiet chat as the girls showed their ability to multitask, with a faint tinny overtone as the music leaked out a little bit from their earphones.

I walked around the class, observing asking questions, giving advice, and in a few cases a quick re-demonstration of what we'd just done on the board.

Bob was working away, trying his best to get the example done.  He needed a little extra help, but he was coping well. I pointed out a few errors in his methodology and helped him fix it.

As most of the class went on to do some more extension work, I sat with Bob and went through a quick precis of last week's lesson, which he seemed to pick up quickly.  He was quite quiet for Bob, and was giving his work more focus than normal.

I gave Bob a big grin, and congratulated him on catching up so quickly, and he smiled quietly back.

It is my custom to allow the pupils 5 minutes doing their own thing on the web if they've been working well, and I gave the class the long awaited words " Free time on the computers"

Almost all of the students went to their favourite web pages, but 5 or 6 stayed on Excel, trying to complete their tasks.  Including Bob. 

What a pleasant surprise.

When the bell went for the end of class the kids packed up, putting their worksheets in their folders, and putting them away in the large filing cabinets beside my desk, then filing out of the room towards their next class.  many said "Bye Mistah" as they exited, because contrary to popular belief most of our kids have been well brought up and are polite to us most of the time.

Bob was one of the last to leave, and as he put his folder away he came to my desk and said "Thanks a lot for helping me Mistah", smiled and left.

just sometimes,
 it's all worthwhile.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Richard, I'm not just a bitter and twisted individual. I'm a loving and caring human being.

  2. A nice story..not what I expected from you at all. As I read through it I kept thinking the punchline would be along any minute now.... But this great inspirational story was no letdown.

    1. Tempo: Thanks for that. I'm trying to be more f*cking positive, after Homer called me a winging cynical bastard. Not quite in those words, but I think the meaning is clear.

      I'll try and introduce some sadism, beastiality and naked women on the next post.

      Have no fear, Mr nice guy is not really me. Ask Ringo

  3. Good stuff TSB. Yes sometitmes they do surprise you. Gives one the energy to keep on going some days. BTW how was your PD session today?

    1. It doesn't happen all that often, but, yes, they can surprise. Our PD wasn't too bad, mostly about Te Reo alphabet and pronounciation

    2. U guys are only up to that? Wow I did that at techers college, then again at Heretaunga before I came to NLHS. They say it's really important to pronounce Maori kids names correctly. Thats fine. But I struggle with all the other names with so many nationalities to deal with. Even some of the mdoern age names the Pakehas chose for their kids.

    3. I didn't mean to imply that this is the only time we do it. We revise and review at least twice a year. It's the bloody terrible spelling of the kid's names that gets me.

      I think I've seen Kylie spelled at least 12 different ways this year alone.

    4. Yep I know just what you mean with the name spelling.ALexis spelt Ellixes for example.
      I just love the simple names when I get them - Sam, Lucy, HJatty, Jacob, Sarah, Emma, Kate, Nicole, Matt, Richard, Josh, Toby, etc or evenif they chose to reduce either extraordinarily long Maori name to just Missy.
      BUt what I have noticed ithe the increasing maount of hypentated name. One kid has got a triple barrelled name! Phew. Bu tit's important because it tells me she has avery famour anscestor in NZ history. THat is a whol other story though. HTe poor child probably does even know who the famous anscestor was, but I do. I think she would just laugh so hard it I told her. But then may be not.

  4. It's nice to have those moments.

    1. Yes it is. It makes the rest of the sh*t that comes along almost bearable.

  5. You teach the toughest age bracket. I dread the day my daughters cross the threshold into that emotional minefield.

    Rap is an insult to musicians. There's no middle-ground. You either think rap is a relevant artistic form of expression or you think, as I do, that it's based on stealing ideas, is void of originality and is a destructive force in society.

    Oh, my. Did I just go off on a rant? I guess I'm officially old!

    1. The worst ages seem to be 14 - 16. After that. most have adapted to the hormone surges (although some boys never do) and their brains have developed enough to be treated as responsible adults.

      Oh, you are so right bout rap. How can anyone be happy about regularly calling a woman "bitch". If anyone called my Beloved that word I'd kick his balls off.
      Well done. Ranting is good. It releases inner tension, allowing you to get that needed afternoon nap after your Complan or Cream O' Wheat.

    2. Furthermore...

      As I stated over at my place, what do you think Jay-Z will do to the first man who raps about his daughter being a bitch or a whore? Do you suppose he's seen the light?


    3. I imagine from context that Jay-Z is a rapper?

      Dear God what happened to nice simple names lile John, James, Mary or even Satan?

      I'm waiting for some d*ckhead to call himself dickh3ad.

      Can I send you some of my Prozac?
      I get it by the tonne (We're metric down here)

      But you're right. (I hope)

  6. nice - but the biggest thing I got from this was the desperation of being a Crystal Palace fan - I have friends who are for their sins... says the man who supports Gillingham, which frankly if you need some motivation to do the most difficult job in the world with a smiling face is preferable to some of the other options about

    1. Ehhh... I know I'm getting old, but I don't remember writing anything about Crystal Palace. Hang on.
      *checks post*
      Nope nothing there.
      Are you sure you're not spaced out on Evian or something?
      *checks post again*
      Are you talking about that picture is used for FREE TIME?
      Are they Crystal Palace fans?

      I don't follow soccer, so I dont know what the team colours are.

      My motivation is retirement. (and the long holidays and fairly good pension)

    2. The photo - I'm sure that they are Palace fans... they have that look anyway :-)

      I'm probably spaced out - my blog subtitle was for a long time - "a man a few degrees out of alignment with humanity"

    3. It's possible. I can't even remember where I pulled the photo from.

      Every so often I get that feeling.

      Nothing connects, nothing feels right, everything's slightly weird. I thought it was just me.


      Mind you there are other days when the entire world is in almost frighteningly sharp focus. The colours are clearer, vibrant and stronger. The sky is of a blue which is infinite, pulling your consciousness towards the eternal, ever receding horizon.

      Of course they are balanced by the other days. The ones I cannot talk about, the statute of limitations being what it is.

  7. It was teachers like you that kept me in school. Good job, TSB.

    1. Thank you Austan. Did your teachers allow you to listen music then?

    2. Only in Art class and gym. There were no earphone devices then, it was vinyl on a record player for all. There was a lot of singing along, though :)

    3. Yeah me too. Our Bohemian Art teacher introduced me to the joys of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd back in the mid 70's. It really helped inspire my art work too. I made some amazing clay sculpuures which still take pride of place on my mantle piece. Even my late father was truly immpressed with my learning outcomes in Art.

    4. Austan: Ah, I remember our old electric gramophones we used for dancing practice. I can still hear the scrathy records and the stench of sweaty bodies and feet. And that was just the teachers.

      VG: Led Zeppelin? Pink Floyd. He wasn't an art teacher, he was a bloody anarchist.

      I've got some clay sculptures as well.

      I call them bricks.

    5. No TSB you would not call my amazing clay sculptures brick. To coin Pink Floyd - "Just another brick in the wall" - That's just not my style and you should know me better than that!

      If my old art teacher was an anarchist he would have been playing us Punk - Sex Pistols etc. However punk was slightly before my time as a high school student. God I am getting old.
      AS old as the Rolling Stones (as a group is now - not their colective or individual ages).
      1962 was a fine year indeed.

  8. I was waiting for the punch line at the end but it never came..
    What a pleasant fellow you are,music and inter web free time ? Very open minded..
    life is light and shade though isn't it?

    1. Why does everyone expect me to make bitter, twisted and cutting comments?

      I am a pleasant fellow.

      I'm known throughout the school and the extended community as a relaxed and able teacher who would do anything for his students.
      *breaks off, and falls laughing off chair*

      See..You can fool all of the people all of the time.

      Yes life is a mix of the good and bad.

      Yesterday afternoon was particularly sh*t, but I'll talk about that later.

      Bon apetit.

  9. That's great to hear. I think a lot of children nowadays, fed mainly on computers and sugar, have mild forms of ADD and a slight background music can block the chatter of their over stimulated brains out.

    Now I know we very rarely see eye to eye on cultural things, but I have to say that I do think you (and Unbearable) are wrong about rap. What about this?

    I'm rolled in sugar, dipped in buttah
    I gots a PhD and an Erdős number
    My wit so sharp ima puncture ya lumbar
    spoken anesthetic is the spell you'll be under

    Coz I got more flow than Csíkszentmihályi's mom
    down on the dance floors from Oakland to Japon
    watch -- while I rocks a style that's as comfy
    in haute couture suits as an orange prison onesie.
    Paul Erdős: Hungarian mathematician, number theorist
    Csíkszentmihályi Mihály: Hungarian psychologist

    1. Yep, the music certainly helps. The slight problem is that many of them have smartphones, and use them as MP3 players, but it's sometimes difficult to see that they're not texting, which is verbotten (text bullying).

      I don't mind the actual use of Rap for the musically challenged, it's the bloody attitude and many of the lyrics that I loath.

      These are OK I suppose, if I could pronounce Csíkszentmihályi's, which I can't.

  10. Aw right pal. Gies back TSB - you're no foolin onybuddy.....

    1. To what do you refer?

      I'm always a true saint in every regard.
      My patience is boundless, my demeanour faultless, and my dress impeccable.

      I'm afraid you must be getting me mixed up with someone else.

      Ringo perhaps, or even Homer.

  11. I'm so glad you've finally had the courage to admit you're a pedagogue. I find it very hard to do, because I'm always worried that people wouldn't believe me. Especially my employer.

    And when I try to convince my students I'm right about something by saying, "Trust me; I'm a teacher" they fall about laughing.

    You're right on about rap, except for one - the Large Hadron Rap. It's still there:

    Nice post, but not as twisted as we've come to expect.

    1. After I said I was a pedagogue, I had to attend therapy. I just make sure that I spell and pronounce it correctly, I have no intention of developing one of those reputations, especially with our kids having a pirate Facebook page.

      I get the same reaction from my kids. "I'm a teacher"; result is sniggering all round. (I'm talking about my offspring here, you know, not my pupils)

      The Large Hadron Rap is excellent. Not one message about "bitches" or drugs or "kill the cops".



      You malign me sir.

      Please remember, "Do not meddle in the affairs of HOFs, for they are subtle and quick to anger."

      I can also deal out the worst vengeance of all. PE relief.

  12. Love the little comment at the header of this post. (My feeling exactly.) Great to have that remark from Bob.

    1. Thanks for visiting again. I got the header text from the dedication of a book by one of my favourite authors, John Ringo.
      TI edited it a bit to get it to fit. Below is the full dedication.

      This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. This book and series has no connection to reality. Any attempt by the reader to replicate any scene in this series it to be taken at the reader's own risk. For that matter, most of the actions of the main character are illegal under U.S. and international law as well as most of the stricter religions in the world. There is no Valley of the Keldara. Heck, there is no Kildar. And the idea of some Scotts and Vikings getting together to raid the Byzantine Empire is beyond ludicrous. The islands described in a previous book do not exist. Entire regions described in these books do not exist. Any attempt to learn anything from these books is disrecommended by the author, the publisher and the author's mother who wishes to state that he was a very nice boy and she doesn't know what went wrong.

      Bob's wee thankyou was really appreciated.


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