Wednesday, 1 September 2010

I don't want to go to school today

I saw the Boomtown Rats perform "I don't like Mondays" in Bradford in 1985. I actually saw the Almighty Sir Bob G in the pub round the corner of the gig about half an hour before the start. Before he was famous famous, before Live Aid & the TV stuff, before his stunning autobiography. Still too important to go and say hello to. Who wants to talk to students?

When that song was a hit, I was only vaguely aware of the backstory. Seems America is reminded almost annually. As a teacher, I am acutely sensitive to that emotion.

As one of our pre-schoolers arrived I picked up there was a vibe. We have to know if a child has had a bad night, or is off their food or something else is going on. Thankfully, we were told. Pointless confronting any issue like that head on, and even if you do not 'know', it is a teacher's job to assess or suss this kind of stuff out pdq. Can't? You are in the wrong job. Seriously. If you can't read your kids, you are not capable of doing the first part of your job. Care.

So we had a young lady who had a birthday yesterday, and probably didn't enjoy having to share her presents/private space...with exactly the same people she is going to spend today with. Who would?!

As a teacher though, how do you manage that? Can you lunge into your game plan regardless? Can you go toe to toe with an unhappy young learner? Any "Yes" answers need to sit back a bit, I think. however, thee answer is not an unconditional surrender either. You always need to have a reliable (and recent) success to fall back on, one that engages as much as possible and that does not have unhappy connotations - tricky!

You have to weigh up what you are trying to achieve long-term with what you can realistically achieve on the day. I suggest avoiding a short-term melt-down. The particular child isn't going to benefit much from a "yada" day full of tears and remorse, after all. Your other students are not going to go home with a happy story to tell either, are they? Problem you need to assess is whether or not you have a bigger issue to defuse, or it was just a "wrong side of bed" situation.

What did we do today? Not half as much, educationally, as we hoped. Did our "I want to stay at home" youngster miss mummy at all? No, not really - a bit sniffy at lunch time when energy levels were a bit low. What do you do then? Don't panic - stick to your routine, don't get ambitious about new stuff, lend the lead to your children. "Which songs do you want to dance to again?" etc.

We are lucky at Luna - we have a lot of space a ton of brilliant resources to call into use...and a bit of experience in these things. Tears today we had none.

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