Sunday, 6 December 2009


On Wednesday I had the dubious pleasure of Pompous Pilate assessing my literacy lesson. He does this once every term. He adopts the persona of the most irritating and pedantic OFSTED inspector (a persona that seem to come naturally to the beastly buffoon). He feels this will prepare us for our long-overdue real inspection. He sits at the back of the class, puffed up and flatulent, clearly savoring every second of our torture. He scratches away with his biro, noting every move we make, every word we utter. We Stepfords try to simply take this in our stride, but we all secretly agonise over it.

I was fortunate that PP chose to assess my literacy class. I teach the cleverest, gifted and talented pupils for literacy. It is my 90 minutes of sanity away from my special needs class, who have the attention span of goldfish and who are beginning to drive me potty. Progress is so painfully slow with them. It is pedagogical Groundhog Day. Whatever we have covered the previous day is completely erased from their memories overnight.

I was quite ambitious in my plan for the assessed lesson. I split the class into groups of 2 and 3 and allocated each group a scene from our lovely class text, When Jessie Came Across the Sea. They had to convert the scene from narrative to playscript form, following all the conventions of playscripts. When all the scenes were performed in order at the end of the lesson we would have collectively (in theory) dramatised the whole book.

Other Stepfords expressed horror that I was contemplating doing drama in an assessed lesson. They considered it a recipe for chaos and disaster. It did not start well when one boy flew into a mood after being allocated a 'love scene' to act out. He spent the start of the lesson with his head on the desk, in floods of tears. I chose to ignore him and hoped he would come round eventually. Thankfully he did.

Overall, I enjoyed the lesson, as did the children. Their playscripts and performances were great. I had a nagging feeling though that Pompous would still find fault.

'Come down to my office for your feedback Miss Underscore. As soon as you can please.' he blustered.

My teaching assistant shook her head at me. She too sensed he had not been impressed. Maybe my fellow Stepfords had been right. A lesson on imperative verbs would have been safer.

I went downstairs and slumped on the plush leather sofa in the cloddish cad's office. I made myself comfortable. I knew I would be there for some time. Pompous launched into his mammoth monologue. But, hang on a minute. It was all sounding rather positive. He had been impressed. After 30 minutes he handed me my summary sheet. I was still not convinced I would do any better than the 'almost outstanding' he gave me last time. I was waiting for the grit in the oyster. Well, I was amazed. He gave me grade 1s all round - outstanding in every category.

'But, where do we go from here Miss Underscore? I think to push you even further next time I want to see you do more focussed 'power teaching'. I want to see you work intensively with one group and really push them to accelerate their learning. Power teaching Miss Underscore. That's the ticket!'

Dear God. Power teaching? Next time I shall be assessed with my own special needs class. How on earth can I power teach 2 + 2 = 4? It takes all my energy to ensure the diminutive dolts are awake, not drooling and that their grubby fingers are not stuck up various orifices.

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