A night when it all came together

23rd March 2001 at 00:00
It's second year choice of subject time. Pupils are urged to contemplate career choices as well as the contrasted delights of drama and physics. I asked one bright second-year if he'd ever thought about teaching.

The lip could not have curled much more if I'd asked how he fancied a career in sewage. "Teaching? Just plain boring!" he said with that practised look of pity the young have off so perfectly.

Such comments make you think, and I went on my way reflecting on his certainty. Did the job really look that bad?

However, I had to move on to the parents' evening for our "Creative Arts Project" pupils. This project adjusts the curriculum for pupils who have come to us from special education and for four or five others for whom we have assessed it as being appropriate.

They are given the opportunity for part of the week to work in a small group at extended courses of music and art. The introduction of the project was fairly fraught as it's not easy to sell an innovative idea when there is no guarantee as to its final outcome.

Now, nearing the end of its first year, we met before the parents arrived and discussed how we would deflect any criticism. We needn't have bothered. In an informal atmosphere, parents, staff and pupils drank tea and looked through art work and listened to the accomplishments and rogress on keyboard, drums, guitar and bass.

Everyone agreed that the venture had been an unmitigated success. All the pupils had gained in confidence and were carrying that into all areas of the curriculum. The parents praised the staff, the staff praised the pupils and the pupils beamed with satisfaction.

One parent remarked it was the ideal way to hold a parents' evening: in a relaxed atmosphere with time to talk to teachers and share ideas. While agreeing, I wondered silently about the logistics of tea and biscuits and 20-minute chats for 200 on a formal parents' night.

It was one of those moments on the roller-coaster of teaching life when, as staff agreed, it all seemed to come together; a tantalising glimpse of what could be, the result of a vision tempered by reality and supported by teamwork.

It might not seem so to that sparky second-year pupil, but as I watched Sarah and Fraser and their parents, talking enthusiastically, using words like progress, promise and commitment, and thought of how far they had come in a year, the world of the teacher seemed anything but boring.

So this month, it's a big thank you to teachers Corrie, Diane and Cheryl and the pupils and parents of our Creative Arts Project - for reminding us all just why we do the job, and how good it can be at its best.

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