The dark side of the whiteboard - Mad, bad and partial to pickle

18th March 2011 at 00:00

Have you noticed how Twitter is just like teaching? It's full of earnest professionals who distil their pithy knowledge into 140 characters which they hurl into the void in the hope that someone will re-tweet what they have said. But unless you post a picture of David Cameron in front of the word "cock", no one ever does. It's much the same in the classroom. We are desperate to hear the kids "re-tweet" what we have taught them. We need to witness this synthesis of what they have learnt in order to validate the months we have spent camped out in the photocopying room, refilling paper tray B and guillotining intricate card-sort activities into a colourful A7 confetti.

There is nothing as satisfying as having the main aim of your lesson assimilated and verbally re-tweeted by the kids. It almost makes the spent marriage, granular thighs and early-onset menopause worthwhile. Recently, I followed up a literacy starter with an exercise on punctuation. The pupils then peer-marked each other's work. One boy's sharp grasp of the key literacy objectives made me smile: "His is shit, Miss, there's no full stops." I couldn't have put it better myself.

At home, my prodigal husband spends a lot of his time seeking his own validations from the twitterati, and I am beginning to see why he does. It's so much easier to impress people with your urbane repartee when they can't see the Branston Pickle dribbling down your shirt. Also, they are less likely to challenge your acerbic remarks about the Coalition by asking if you have emptied the dishwasher. But because our relationship is on its last dog's chance, I am turning over a new leaf. From now on, I will do my best to ignore his love affair with his BlackBerry or his cavalier use of the nation's favourite chutney and will focus on his positives instead. The main ones being that he still has his own teeth, a moderate income, and he is useful with a few sheets of plasterboard.

Rekindling damp passion is not an easy task. And a spluttering relationship like ours needs oil to get things going. So last Friday I ditched my planning and we dashed off for a weekend in Paris. The idea was that if we surrounded ourselves with high culture rather than unfinished skirting boards, we might find each other more desirable. He could play Renaissance man; I could pretend that I don't prefer fleeces. The trip began well. We stayed in an exquisite Haussmann apartment in the Marais. My only concern was a sign on the bathroom door that read: "If you dispose of anything except toilet paper down this toilet you will be fined 750 euros." What did they think we would try and flush? A scale model of the Eiffel Tower? I eyed my husband suspiciously. He could be a possible transgressor, so to be on the safe side I hid his latest Jeremy Clarkson and carefully policed the pan.

It was interesting spending adult time alone with him. I had forgotten how darkly Byronic he can be: juggling poetry with barbarism; eloquence with appetite. Who else but my husband would use Marvell's powerful metaphysical conceit, "Had we but world enough and time, this coyness lady were no crime" as a syllogistic euphemism for "no chance of a BJ I suppose?".

And he was right; there wasn't. When you abandon your marriage, you also lose the perks of the job.

Anne Thrope (Ms) is a secondary teacher in the North of England.

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