Let sunshine turn straight lines into a squiggle

8th June 2007 at 01:00
Peter Greaves is deputy head of Dovelands primary school in Leicester.

I've got that summery feeling coming over me. It tells me that another school year has nearly gone. It is more than the hay fever, the extra outdoor PE and the stock cupboard being jam-packed with goodies for next year. It's something about the affection you feel for your current class mixed with the knowledge that it's right that the days together are numbered.

I find myself wondering what the children will remember of the 38 weeks they have spent in my class. The 30 of us have passed so many days together, so many learning intentions covered. I wonder whether the things they choose to take away with them will be what I hope or expect.

The chances are that the moments they will remember are happenings I have already long forgotten. I remember a pupil who came back to see me after a few years in secondary school and I asked this question: "What sticks in your mind when you think of your time in my class?"

She started to laugh and began to tell me about a maths lesson she would never forget. Having taken down a "washing line"-style classroom display, I had a box of pegs to hand. Apparently, I then promised to put a peg in my hair for every mental maths question they got right. I was true to my word and, so my former pupil tells me, spent the rest of the lesson going about my serious business looking like the victim of some bizarre laundry accident.

In a way, I'm not surprised. Inside the classroom there is a very thin line between inspiration and madness, and it is during those moments of crossing the line that the memorable times will occur. For this reason, I think it's good to seize the season and take some risks in this final term, to do things without worrying too much if they go wrong - things that will generate excitement and enjoyment if they go right.

These don't have to be risks on a par with bungee-jumping. Choose a book that you're not sure the kids will get - they might turn out to love it. Do an art lesson that looks as if it could make too much mess - it might produce something wonderful. Show them how to do something they will never forget. Teach them a song they'll be singing for years.

I remember when I was nine years old. A sunny day with a picture-postcard blue sky. My teacher took the class outside to lie on the grass and watch the clouds for a while. I can take myself back to that moment so clearly.

It reminds me that outside the straight lines of curriculum subjects and units of work, there is a wonderful world of squiggles that can take you and your class who knows where?

All teachers have a favourite lesson that gives them pleasure every time they teach it - a strength, a passion, a gift or a talent. I wonder what yours is. Don't say goodbye to this year's class without sharing it with them.

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