Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Please pick up, Please pick up.

I love a good initiative.

I even love the word initiative, with its facets of both an innate ability to succeed and the beginning of something enduring.

I love initiatives for those with initiative.

I especially love iconoclastic, establishment-questioning ideas that give a little hint of an idea to students that they should constantly question, constantly create, and, just occasionally, defy.

When I spoke about five things to tell NQTs I missed out a couple of important things. One of those was that you should never expect a student to do something that you are not prepared to do yourself.

It was with great pleasure and a wry smile that I told a group of students about poetry, because these students were sat, at lunch time, listening for about the twelfth week running to someone talk about novels, or plays, or poems, and this time I was encouraging these students to read their own poetry. By the end of that lunchtime nine students, along with three teachers, would have read poems to forty assembled students and staff. The lecture series was started as a way to provide students a path to exploring off-curriculum literature. (I started it. Me.) Each week someone would present on why it is they love the piece of literature that they do. To date there has been ten teachers and eight students who have presented to the thirty-odd audience, and we thought it would be a nice thing to mark world poetry day last week with a poetry reading by anyone who wished a voice onto themselves.

The week before the recital I had issued a challenge to my assembled bibliophiles; To hide poetry around the academy in books, in stairwells, on classroom doors. (that actually happened) Students took this challenge to heart and poems have been turning up all over. I adored this. It is a beautiful thing. Of course, in qualification of my previous statement, I joined in the game.

And here in lies the anecdote about my crass ineptitude and comedic lack of common sense, for I haven't told one in a while.

I am not a terrible poet. I am also not great. I am also not a children's poet. I had to make sure that if no-one as ready to read at the poetry recital I would be able to fill for a while. I dug up a load of poetry and hastily edited out the sweary bits with a biro. I read, They went down okay. Then, In a moment of vicious clarity, I placed some poems of mine in some books in the library. Then I taught my last lesson and got on the train home.

It's amazing, that cold feeling in your stomach when you realise you have done something wrong and have absolutely no way of fixing it. The last time I really felt it properly was when I hadn't done my maths homework and the teacher was on their way around checking books. You can actually see it in their eyes now. It's sadistically amusing to watch it develop as you wonder from seat to seat checking homework. I was on the phone faster than Gotham city gets on the batsign. My head of department might just be at school. As soon as she picked up all I could hear was the unmistakable distant sound of someone on a hands free kit. The first think he heard me say was a shouted expletive about as socially acceptable as the ones that were only just scribbled over in the poems that I was pretty sure I had erroneously put into some collections of kids poems.

At that point I had no choice but to explain the error I was pretty sure I'd made. The next morning I was in school OFSTED early hoping that I hadn't inspired any kids to read anything. Thankfully I hadn't. There they were, tucked in Tennyson and hidden in Harry Potter. Smiles all round.

#Moral Write poems about happy kittens.


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