End of May to end of June. My favourite time of year. Almost without noticing it there is an explosion of life in Maytime. A magical time. The greenery is almost overpowering and in Somerset whole fields are awash with the bright liquid of buttercups smothering the meadows and refracting the light.
I think my binge came to an end last week some time. It’s never completely clear when it starts or ends but there are moments when I suddenly feel normal.
I have my doubts about The Blue School. The staff aren’t the most inspiring and the building is a monstrosity but it does serve its purpose – I go in and go out 2 days a week and so I feel almost like a supply: not wholly engaged with the community. Only really a teacher, invisible apart from in the classroom. My classes are mostly great: a lovely top set year 10 who I’ll keep next year and a very sweet year 8 group that I’ll lose. I have a crazy year 9 group once a week who are HARD work. Tom is deliberately disruptive and abusive (‘You’re an idiot’ was yesterday’s comment before refusing to leave). Layton is deliberately disruptive and defiant and also aggressive (‘Get out of my face, you crazy guy or I’ll wop you’ – last week’s lesson). Aaron is surly and quietly threatening and not prepared to cooperate or do any work. This is all normal and my lesson to be learnt is not to lose my temper. This doesn’t help achieve anything.
Wondering about my plans for next year. I’ve said I’ll stay on there and do 2 days a week. And the plan is to do a part time course in freelance journalism probably from the London School of Journalism which I can do from home. I am dissatisfied with my life as a teacher and not only that but affected negatively by it: the expectation of having a bad day / confrontation / poor behaviour, etc starts to rear up before me as I know a day with a dodgy class approaches. This is what I’ve been trying to manage with the help of NLP (more about this later). Trying to see the positive in every situation, pivot from negative to positive. Difficult with the likes of Layton and Tom but I suppose my thoughts should be something like ‘This can make me a better, calmer person by not rising to their disruptiveness’. ‘This will make me a better teacher’ ‘This will make a calmer atmosphere’ ‘It will make me a happier person not being involved with conflict’ )n a deeper level it will make me strive to be a happier, calmer person outside the classroom. Someone who aims to be healthier, happier, kinder to myself and more focused on what I want to achieve in life. This is why I write these words.
And so to writing. What to write? But this is exciting. There is a whole world of possibilities. Just been reading John Harris’s Guardian page. He spends a lot of time talking to people around the country for various reasons and recording their stories. I could do this and have done. Is has advised me to focus on what I know about (teaching? insomnia?). Last week I interviewed Mark Kennedy from Catch 22, an Alternative Provision provider in Bristol. It was good practice doing a 30 minute interview, trying to focus on what I wanted to ask and thinking about the points that I heard from him that I wanted to pick up on. I was expecting him to complain about cuts and exclusions and having too many referrals but he was positive about AP in Bristol. Would this make a good story? Perhaps not. But why not do a positive article about how well AP works. It’s a hidden world unknown to the public and mainstream educators like myself. It would be good to just create a picture for people of how it works even if there wasn’t a political angle to it. Or would that sell? Hmm.
Next I am going to Forest School Otterhead on Friday. I expect that also to be a positive experience but would like to know if they have seen any changes in behaviour, more referrals, etc but it could be an article about the variety of provision available in the region as a way of supporting them.
What about writing about worsening behaviour in Somerset schools?
I think it important to try to work on stuff regularly. I was at a birthday lunch in London on Saturday and the husband of a published novelist I was talking to said she writes 1000 words every day without fail. It’s practice and commitment that makes us good at what we do.
Other ideas: An article about the dangers, annoyances of tech. Parker has just vented some spleen about the blue double tick on Whatsapp that shows you that someone has read your message has been read. Someone had responded to him saying that ‘They’d known what time he got up this morning’ because of the blue tick response. They then referred to it as ‘acceptable online stalking’. Ha! Yes, I could write about this. With me as the primary focus of an experiment with social media and anxiety.
I can do an interview with Dominic Knight about NLP and more importantly about him because he’s quite an unusual / enigmatic character and very little has been written about him. He is sort of unbelievable and his references to stories about high achieving people is extraordinary and funny but amazingly I think his hypnotherapy and NLP did work for me although I’m still trying to understand or evaluate if/how it has worked. I expect it’s work in progress.
I’m going to see David Bowerman, a psychotherapist, today so perhaps this could also be the basis for an article about trying to combat insomnia.
More to follow. Let’s see how this progresses…