BestWorst Lesson

11th April 2008 at 01:00
Best

A lesson on citizenship was the focus of our harvest assembly for infants. We had forged exciting bonds with the Rukungiri School in Uganda, during a project undertaken by a local church.

The church members had taken books and gifts from our children on their working visit to the Ugandan school. They had returned with letters, pictures, prayers and best wishes from every pupil there, and the request that we become pen pals.

The focus of our lesson was "Children of the World". We began by thinking about our own fruitful harvests, and about the children who are not so fortunate. We said that every child in the world is special, and that everyone is unique. This led us to consider our Rukungiri friends, and to think about their difficulties - being orphans and needing shoes, clothes and facilities such as furniture and bedding for their school, where many of them stay.

We celebrated the attitude of these children, their friendliness, faith and joy of living. We sang, said prayers, and listened to a lullaby while the three and four-year-olds walked in a procession to bring their dolls, depicting many nationalities, to sit in front of the harvest display.

The highlight, however, was when a few representatives from each class brought a letter or picture from every child in the school and posted them in the large red postbox, also by the display, to be forwarded to our pen pals in Uganda. We finished with a rousing "All you need is love" by the Beatles.

Worst

It was a different time and place - many years ago but never forgotten. Staff sickness was rife and there was no one to look after, never mind teach, the six-year-old girls in our school.

As an experienced teacher of infants (with a few days' experience of supply in a junior school), I offered my services, saying that I could leave my able assistant in charge of my class.

Off I went then up the gloomy stairs and corridor, ever further from all that I knew. The girls were polite and, I mistakenly thought at the time, kind. It is not an error that I would make again.

I had inherited a double lesson, the emphasis being on "independent study". A small group of studious girls approached and explained that they required the library, followed by two more, looking even more serious, who needed to follow up their questionnaire.

As they went, others who were obviously well ahead of me picked up the requisite clipboard and disappeared in their wake. At least the first few asked. I wised up too late - it all happened in a matter of minutes.

When the headteacher arrived to check that all was well, he must have been rather disconcerted to find his teacher in solitary state with only her good intentions for company. It took some living down.

Miriam Lynch is deputy headteacher of Oaks Community Infant School in Sittingbourne, Kent.

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