Notes from the Classroom


Today I hit the ten month mark of my teaching career, and I officially qualified as a teacher.

If someone had sat me down in September and told me about the late nights, the early mornings, the endless paperwork, the constant criticism and self reflection, the self doubt, the physical and mental exhaustion, the lessons where everything – and I mean everything – goes wrong, the lack of time to do anything other than planning and marking, the moments of panic when a child comes to you with a problem you have no idea how to solve, the excruciating parents’ evenings when you realise you’ve been talking about the wrong Sophie for the last ten minutes…I would have gone back to my safe office job and never given teaching another thought.

So, I’m glad nobody sat me down and told me the truth. Because if they had, and I’d taken the easy way out, I would have missed the most amazing year of my life. It’s been incredibly difficult at times, and pushed me to the limits of my endurance, but it’s been completely worth every minute. Teaching is nothing like I expected. I thought it was going to be a halcyon world where I would never have a moments’ boredom again. Obviously, I was wrong. Marking was fun at first, but correcting misspellings of there and their gets tiring pretty quickly. The despair that sets in when you get to the seventh essay in your pile of 30 and realise that no one can actually spell Shakespeare and you might as well have been talking to yourself for the last term is crushing. ¬†And I certainly wouldn’t call inputting students’ targets into endless spreadsheets thrilling. Of course, as I should have realised, teaching has just as many annoyances as any other job. However, the rewards it offers are beyond anything sitting in an office ever gave me. I get to be part of hundreds of childrens’ lives every single day, and that is what has made this year so special. The conversations I have with my students make me laugh until I cry sometimes. They’re amazing. They make going to work fun. You can’t ask for anything better than that.

I’m not the best teacher in the world. I still have a lot of learning to do. But I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved in the last ten months, and I can’t believe how much I’ve learned, developed and changed in that time. It’s been quite the experience. And this is just the beginning!

Other than reading books…

I took some nice photos this weekend of what I do when I’m not reading books. So I thought I’d share a bit more about me rather than just my opinions on books and book related matters.

So for starters I enjoy wandering around London…here’s a lovely shot of a graveyard in Hampstead, where I was on Saturday morning. Hampstead is stunning and a world away from my usual stomping ground of South East London. This graveyard we came across on the way to the high street was very quiet and beautiful and slightly overgrown which is exactly as graveyards should be. I have a morbid fascination with graveyards and can spend many a happy hour poring over the inscriptions on old gravestones. This also dovetails nicely with my interest in given names, as you can find some real classics in graveyards that have stones dating back a couple of centuries or so. I especially like spotting obscure names such as Hepzibah and Temperance.

I also love to bake…here’s a victoria sponge I made with fresh cream and blueberries. It went down a treat, so much so, I just made another! I’m currently working my way through Jane Brocket’s Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer, which is a terrific cookbook/history of children’s literature, giving recipes from favourite classics such as the Famous Five and Anne of Green Gables. It’s a delight to read and look at as much as it is to bake from and I highly recommend it, though you won’t find my blueberry cream cake in there as I made that up myself.

On the right is my patchwork quilt that I’m making, and I’ve been working a little on it this weekend…I try and do a bit every night but lately I have been lagging behind. We have a patchwork quilt club at work because of an exhibition we’re holding in March next year on Quilts and so I got started with this quilt a few months ago when the club began meeting. I am definitely no seamstress and I have never made a quilt before, so if I can do it, anyone can. It’s all handsewn and made with templates so it’s time consuming work but I am really enjoying it and look forward to the happy day when it will be finished and can take pride of place on my bed. I fear it will be a long time coming! It’s also a famous quilt because it is going to be featured in the accompanying exhibition book…we had a photo shoot last week. Very exciting!

And finally, I love love love spending time with my nephews. They are called George and Freddie (Frederick really but that’s a bit long for a baby) and are 2 yrs 8 months and 3 months old respectively. They are absolutely wonderful, and especially as Georgie can now talk fluently, he comes out with the most wonderful things. Out of the mouths of babes indeed! Their sticky kisses and warm soft sleepy smell when they wake up from their naps just melts my heart but I am very glad I get to give them back!