I'm a role model for my pupils - unfortunately

22nd January 2010 at 00:00

By Friday afternoon my classroom resembles a war zone, the art area looks like a Jackson Pollock, and somebody has filled the spider plant's pot with pencil shavings. But so what? It is just debris left over from the learning journey.

Modelling good practice all week comes at a price. And even though the learning journey looks like it involved armoured vehicles, what does it matter?

It can all be sorted out later. For now I'll just calm down, breathe into this paper bag and ponder the glory of an unopened weekend.

I like to imagine this scene is representative, but I know it isn't, and the terrible truth is close by. Miss Poppins's classroom - not her real name because of safeguarding (safeguarding me) - is already like something out of a training video.

Tables regimented; chairs to attention; tidy boxes tidied; targets displayed; bookshelves ordered by genre and cross-referenced by reading age; interactive displays providing child-friendly advice in accordance with current objectives; and next week's planning neatly pinned to the wall in colour-coded plastic wallets.

And that's not the worst of it. Her children left in an orderly fashion, too each bearing the precise quota of letters, differentiated homework sheets and PE kit (for the washing of). My class left like the Mongol horde of Genghis Khan.

I used to think that by some fluke of administrative unfairness, I always got the least tidy and most disorganised children. Now I'm not so sure.

There is a dad who stands at our school gates in his vest. This is because they don't do shirts in his neck size. He has a dog that is the spitting image of him. If you put a vest on it, shaved its head, put a roll-up in its mouth and stuck the Daily Star under its front leg, you wouldn't be able to tell them apart.

Pets resembling owners is a well-documented phenomenon. But then I think about Miss Poppins and her class. And that's when it hits me, like one of several precariously balanced box files toppling from an over-stacked shelf: my children are turning into me!

Consider the facts. They never put things in the right place and I never put things in the right place. They can't find their stuff and I can't find my stuff. They're scared of telling me they've lost their pencils, and I'm scared of telling the ICT co-ordinator I've lost yet another interactive whiteboard pen.

It's not looking good is it? And it gets worse. I have just noticed that the system they use for organising their topic folders bears a remarkable resemblance to my filing system.

It goes like this: place all paperwork into several undesignated, unlikely and inappropriate places until unspecified date earmarked for filing arrives. When unspecified date earmarked for filing fails to arrive adopt emergency filing procedure. Ensure no one is looking and file everything into recycling bin.

I stop breathing into my paper bag just long enough to wave goodbye to Miss Poppins. She has put her umbrella up and is gliding gracefully away over the car park.

Steve Eddison, Key stage 2 teacher, Sheffield.

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