Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Oh, What To Do?

So, the school I tutor in is being made into an Academy in September. It has been taken over by an independent education group, and there is a new headteacher, who pops up periodically to have intense meetings and say 'hello' to people. He hasn't yet said 'hello' to me, because I hide upstairs in a little office, do my job and go home. I drift about the place like some kind of phantom - people know I work in the school, yet they always seem surprised to see me.

Anyway, one of the teaching assistants asked if I was coming back in September. In fact, she was insistent I did. 'Well,' I said. 'I don't know if there will be any work for me.'
'Of course there will be work for you,' she said. 'There is always work for good teachers.'
'Maybe,' I said, 'but I have slipped under the Academy net. My role is, as such, undefined.' (It's what comes of behaving like a phantom, I guess.)
'The new headteacher is looking for someone to develop a drama department,' said the teaching assistant. She clearly has her finger on the pulse of all things Academy. 'You should e-mail him and make him aware of your existence.'

Okay. So I thought about this for a couple of days. I like teaching drama. It is Much Malarkey on a grand scale. I have built a drama department before. I can do this job. So I contructed a carefully worded e-mail to the new Headteacher outlining my teaching talents. I also told him that because of my commitments outside of school - writing, allotment, hens, bees, staying sane - I was VERY reluctant to work full time. Four days a week suits me fine. I pressed 'send'.

Less than an hour later, a reply came back. Could I 'touch base' with him on Friday? (I guessed this meant 'meet up' and wasn't some euphemism for a sinister Academy activity whereby once I'm in I'll never get out alive.)

So Friday arrived. I loitered in Reception. The new Headteacher appeared. He shook my hand, and asked about my allotment and said he hoped I was taking care of my hands. He said that Senior Management spoke very highly of me. And that if Senior Management regarded me with high esteem, why would he want me to leave? Nay, he needed and wanted good teachers. He said he did, indeed, want to develop drama in the school. He said he couldn't make any promises though, and he said something about not having a bottomless pit of funds. He said he heard I taught English.

At this point I started thinking 'Oh-oh, I know what's coming here.'

He said that it was highly likely a post in the English department would be coming up in September and would I consider that? Could I e-mail him with what I saw myself doing regarding A level, GCSE, KS3, Nuture Group? (Nuture Group is very needy Year 7s arriving from primary school barely able to string two words together corectly so that they make sense. They generally have behaviour issues, too.)

So, here I am. Umming and ahhing. I have made a list of pros and cons of going back into classroom teaching. So far the pros are outweighing the cons by 8 points to 6. It's a close shot. But only if I stick to my guns and do no more than 4 days a week. I am composing an e-mail, laying down my 'ideas' and trying to sound agreeable and flexible, but not like I am going to be walked over.

My friend, Jean, sent an e-mail today with some sage advice for such occasions. She said, 'Handle every stressful situation like a dog. If you can't eat it or play with it, just pee on it and walk away.'

Not totally appropriate, the weeing thing, so I did the human equivalent which was go to the allotment for 3 hours. I sulphate and potashed the soft fruit. I watered the polytunnel and coo-ed over the rapidly growing seedlings. Some of the strawberries have flowers already. I sowed parsnip seed and planted a rosemary bush. I netted the gooseberry that is on the far side of the allotment out of reach of the fruit cage, because it has started to develop buds and the birdies will be after it. I weeded the last area to be weeded and decided here was a perfect place to grow some flowers. I poked the compost bin, having been very good and remembered to bring the waste food caddy from home to add to the mix.

I came home and set about greenhouse planting. In went the courgettes (green and yellow), the cucumbers, and three varieties of runner bean. And some basil.

And I think what my decision boils down to is that I really want a smallholding. Just a small one. An acre will suffice. So I can have more days like this - planting, weeding, growing, conversing with chickens and bees, anticipating harvest and flowers, and living the cycle all over again forever. And if I want a smallholding, I have to work so we can save up and buy a smallholding. And that's about it. I think.

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