Thursday, 19 March 2009

Green is the new Red

The School of Hard Knocks has a new Headteacher, Pompous Pilate is his name. His natural habitat seems to be the staff meeting. He struts like a peacock in front of a flipchart and pontificates about 'creative curriculums', 'community cohesion' and 'action research.' I eagerly await the day we actually talk about the children, or (heaven forbid) teaching, but I am beginning to suspect it will never come.

In our first meeting we discussed the protocol for future meetings. A Code of Conduct was drawn up. This took several hours. We debated whether we needed a chairperson, 30 minutes alone was taken deliberating the semantics of the word 'chairperson'. Pompous P declared he would commit to strictly keeping to the start and end times to each meeting. Our time was too precious for him to waste, he cried. Unfortunately, since then every meeting has over-run by at least 30 minutes. This is because the despotic windbag never shuts up.

This week's meeting was on the subject of marking. We all had to take a selection of exercise books to the meeting and we would be 'critical friends' and assess each other's marking techniques. There was nothing friendly about this meeting. The atmosphere in Classroom 8 was seething with petty resentments and bitter rivalries.

Whilst browsing listlessly through a Year 1 colleagues book I overheard my marking being savaged. 'I can't believe she uses red pen, so aggressive and authoritarian. I always use green pen' simpered Mrs H.

'I know, and what about those gold stars, so dated. . .' hissed Mrs C.

So, a scant 10 minutes into our meeting I was being labelled some kind of retro, despotic bitch: Myra Hindley with a red pen and gold stars.

Later, we had to discuss what we had 'learnt' in the session.

'You know, I never mark children's incorrect mark with a cross, I use a dot' announced Mrs H smugly.

I have vowed never to speak in a staff meeting as, in my experience, no good can come of it. This time I could not help myself. I adopted my most naive and innocuous look,

'That is so interesting. Why a dot?' I asked.

'Well, a cross has so many negative connotations. It signifies a mistake, an error, something wrong. It is terribly damaging to a child's self esteem.' replied the priggish Mrs H.

'I see. . . . but I am confused. What exactly does the dot signify?' I asked innocently.

'Well, it means that the answer is wrong but. . . ' answered Mrs H, her gleeful assurance beginning to wane.

'So, your dots mean exactly the same as a cross then? I reply. 'Sounds potentially damaging to me.'

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