Thursday, 3 May 2012

Innovation and Enthusiasm

'Yeah, well, right,' began Ayesha, after I'd spent a gruelling hour trying to lever some Macbeth into some spectacularly resistant Year 10 brains. 'How do you know that Shakespeare was actually, like REAL?'

Oh good grief, I thought. I took a deep breath, but tried to make it look like I needed a deep breath rather than give away the fact it was really a deep breath of academic frustration.

'Because,' I said, 'you can go to Stratford-upon-Avon and see his baptism record and his grave.'
'Oh,' said Ayesha.
'Of course he's real, 'chipped in Rob. 'No imaginary person would have bothered to make up all that stuff, would they?'

What???? I thought.

I suspect Rob thinks Shakespeare is a hoax, too, but he is also deeply in love with Ayesha and shows his undying affection for her by baiting her as much as possible during lessons and disagreeing with everything she says.

'Why's he so annoying?' wailed Ayesha a couple of weeks ago after Rob had made some particularly scathing comment about her fake tan (well-brewed tea tone) and enormous fake eyelashes (two tarantula spiders scrabbling for safety).
'He loves you,' I said.
'Yuk!' squealed Ayesha. 'Eurgh, that's just GROSS!'

But I think she was secretly pleased.

Anyway, I had a particularly enjoyable day yesterday. I hadn't really had time to plan properly for my Year 9s as we are mid-coursework marking frenzy with Year 11 and 12, and I was thinking 'What the heck am I going to do with 28 14 year olds for two hours?' for yea verily I did have the pleasure of their company for that length of time and yea verily again it did fill mine heart with a cold and icy dread. For not only am I doing Macbeth with Year 10, I am doing Romeo and Juliet with Year 9, a play of which I am heartily sick, having spent the last few months teaching it eight times a week to two separate Year 11 groups.

Standing in my store cupboard and wondering if inspiration lay therein, I spotted two large cardboard boxes and two empty sweet tins (prizes my form won for being best attendance). Aha, thought I, we can make Elizabethan puppet theatres! I added some coloured cards and paper, glue sticks, scissors, did a demonstration of how to make a variety of finger puppets, told them to get into two teams and away they went!

100% of students focused and involved for 100% of the time! Luckily, two members of senior management happened to pass by during the session, and this morning I received a congratulatory e-mail praising my innovation, enthusiasm and all-round marvellousness. If only they knew, I thought.

By the afternoon, Year 10 were back for more Macbething. Rob was full of helpful suggestions like making Ayesha play the role of Lady Macbeth, but she wasn't having it.
'Tell you what, Rob,' said I. 'As you are so full of helpful suggestions, why don't you teach the rest of the lesson?'
'Can I? he said, suddenly looking very lively.
'Yes,' I said. 'I'll sit up the back in the horizontal position, on my mobile phone and pretend to be you.'

Now Rob, although only 15, is well over six feet tall, and is living proof that smoking does not stunt your growth. So he rose to the challenge, striding forward and telling everyone to shut up and do as he told them. I slouched to the back of the class, but not before retrieving my phone from my bag and switching it on.

'Right,' said Rob, 'we're going to carry on reading Act 3 scene 1...'
A text came through on my mobile, making a satisfying 'chirrup.'
'Put your phone away,' snapped Rob.
'No,' I said. 'It's my husband. He's sent me a text.'
'Give me your phone,' said Rob.
'Nooo!' I screeched. 'You can't make me. You can't touch me! I know my rights.'
Rob seemed flummoxed, but backed off, leaving me to balance my phone on my knee and read the text in a surreptitious way.

The other kids thought this is all very hilarious.
'Well, if she's on her phone, I'm going to use mine,' said Ayesha, which is odd because she'd never needed an excuse to use it in class before.
Rob moved bravely on. He strode around the class, giving commands and stomping loudly because, he said, that is what teachers do. Stomp.

'Shut up!' said Rob.
'But it IS!' I protested. 'I can't read this.'
'Shut up or go out,' said Rob.

By now I was into my stride. My classmates were agog with excitement and joy.

'You can't tell me to shut up!' I screeched.
'Go and stand in the corridor!' shouted Rob. 'Go on! You are causing a disruption!'

So up I stood, and, as I flouncded...yes, flounced from the classroom, I put out my hand and swept an exercise book onto the floor in my best stroppy and theatrical manner. Ooooh, it was all very liberating!

My classroom assistant was joining in. 'I've just farted!' she announced loudly.

Banished to the corridor I skipped up and down and pulled faces through the open door until Rob, who by this time had sent two more students out to join me, shut the door in our faces. He didn't look very happy, bless him.

He lasted 15 minutes.

He opened the door. 'I think you'd better come back and finish the lesson,' he said. 'I need a sit down.'

And the last half an hour was spent in studious application of brain cells to the joys of Shakespeare's verse.

But I'm quite glad senior management didn't see THAT display of innovation and enthusiasm!


doodles n daydreams said...

Oh, I just laughed out loud. I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall while you were the student and Rob was the teacher. Brilliant.

Denise said...

Thank you! I am always thrilled if I am able to elicit a laugh from someone!
It was a highly entertaining event, and every one involved had a good laugh. Not something to be done on a regular basis though...I have to maintain a certain amount of gravitas!!