Monday, 8 December 2008

Allow it.

So unsurprisingly I've not been keeping up with this blog. I'm either too knackered or too jaded to want to write anything about my day to day life as a teacher.

There have been loads of little things that have been amusing me this term but to be honest they have been lost in amongst the other crap. But hey that's the reason I started this blog and so I need to try and trawl my brain and get them down on paper to keep me sane.

I've got a lad in my class, Dwayne, who is a real mouth. He has this amazing manner about him and the way he speaks and says things should be funny but when you are trying to get him to shut the f*ck up and get on with his work it's hard to have a chuckle.

However I was marking his book the other day (a rare event) and discovered that his style extends to the written word.

A boy in my class had regrettably sanded the tips of his fingers off on the Bandfacer doing something really stupid and so I had to stop the whole class doing practical and the next lesson get them to brush up on their Health and Safety.

I thought it would take them ten mins to write down 10 things that could go wrong in the workshop and then ten things that could be done to prevent those accidents.


You would think.

It took me an entire, spirit crushing hour to get 75% of the class to get it done....shitly.

I understand the irony of me taking the piss out of the kids written work when I write words like shitly by the way. I just think that it's the perfect adjective for the situation.

They completed the task "shitly".

Where was I?

Oh yes... Dwayne. Dwayne writes like he speaks. So his evaluation of his clock project went like this:

1. How did your final design differ from your initial idea?

"Well...basically...I started off doing a Manchester United clock but the design was going to take long so I did something else."

Witness the shitness.

"Long" is a favourite expression of mine at school actually. Virtually anything that takes even the slightest form of effort is described as "long" or "Bare long".

I also love the use of "allow it".

A typical exchange might go something like this:

Me: "Ok class seeing as you can't be arsed to do anything at all can you scratch an X onto your book with a pencil and that will suffice as your entire year nine project.

Them: "Oh sir man! That's gonna take bare long.

Me: "Oh come on the act is going to take about as much effort as breathing out."

Them: "Siiiiiir allow it!"

The girls are at least inventive. I challenged a year nine girl the other day for doing her makeup in class. She had a mirror out and was doing her Mascara.

Me: "Rachel you can't do your makeup in class. Put it away or I'll confiscate it."

Rachel: "But sir I'm doing technology to my face"

Two weeks to go till Christmas.


Friday, 24 October 2008

Driving me Cuckoo

So the last two days of term managed to glean a surprising amount of moments that made me happy that I do the job I do.

First of all I had a year nine class who are normally; "challenging", "lively" or "a royal pain in the arse", behaving like decent young adults engaged in creative design and make tasks. Wonders will never cease. The buzz of seeing them all working away independently and enjoying their work makes all the shit times seem worth it.

My classes then appeared to be consistently amusing from Thursday afternoon onwards. First I had a lad called Abdi who came up to me and told me that he had sanded his Flexible Fish project down too far on the band facer and now it looked like a poo.

"Can I colour it in brown sir it looks like a poo?"

"Yes Abdi of course. Adapt and overcome. I love your initiative. You will go far."

Abdi coloured it then showed his eye for fashion style by making a little red conical party hat to put on top of his poo. Lovely.

I took a picture of it on my phone but I am reluctant to post it. I change all the names of the kids on here too. Just in case it comes back to bite me on the arse someday. If you really want to see it then I might just say to hell with it and throw caution to the wind. Live a little. Post that poo.

Anyway a year 10 Product Design class that I was covering gave me the highlight of the week. I was trying to get them to think creatively to design a product by giving them the item to be designed (in this case a clock). Then coming up with two random objects unrelated to the clock. These objects are then used to spark ideas to design the clock. For example: design a new Mobile Phone using an orange and a chair as inspiration. The student would then analyse an orange: the texture of its skin, segments, colours, tastes, smells etc etc do the same with the chair and then combine elements of each to design the phone. This sometimes produces brilliant results. Sometimes not so good but it's quite a nice exercise.

So one pupil today had to design his clock using the random words: "fire" and "building".

I came round to look at his work at the end and he had drawn a skyscraper that was on fire (with a clock face on it). The skyscraper had two men on the top of the building and the design of the clock meant that these men jumped off, committing suicide, on the hour every hour.

Truly a Cuckoo clock for the 9/11 generation.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Safety second

I'm struggling to find the humour in it all this week. Half term can't come quickly enough. This is the longest term of the whole year and I can really feel that it's just gone on too long. I'm running on empty.

So amusing moments have been few and far between this week. However a year eight of mine really cracked me up/almost made me weep yesterday in the workshop.

They were making a flexible product from MDF. Its a great project and I enjoy teaching it. The students get to use a Hegner saw (pictured) to cut out their work and a Bandfacer to sand it down. They cannot use the machine if they do not have Safety goggles on however and I noticed a girl doing just that in my class.

So I stopped the machine and told her to put on her goggles. She looked at me blankly and asked:

"What are they sir?".
Now bearing in mind that I have told them what these things are about fifty times in these first few weeks I took a deep breath and said sweetly:

"Safety goggles. To protect your eyes."

Blank look.

"Those things on that table over there" I said pointing.

"Oh right" she said and proceeded to walk over to the table and pick up a cardboard box.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Porcine Bakery

Teaching year nines to cook Quiche. Ah what greater joy can a day bring?

Like most things I teach in food technology I have had to learn how to make a Quiche myself first. I had never made Quiche before. I had never made my own Pizza base before, Galettes, Victoria sponge cakes and I don't think I had even made my own fairy cakes.

However after a quick read of Delia online, a trip to Sainsburys and an evening or a Sunday afternoon spent elbow deep in flour I begin to feel like a bit of an expert. Especially with a Victoria sponge cake for which I now consider myself (rather modestly) a grand master.

Reading up on Quiche making techniques I was only faintly aware of the term "blind baking". One of those terms that swirls around in my memory from being at my grannies house and trying to steal food in the kitchen.

Blind baking is the process where you pre bake the pastry of a recipe (in this case quiche) if the filling needs cooking itself or if it's a liquid . You place the pastry into the desired shape in a steel ring or somesuch, line the bottom of the pastry with greaseproof paper and then add some baking beans or uncooked rice to weight the paper down.

There you learn something new every day eh?

So I demonstrated this process to my year nines and aksed them to take notes as they watched. The idea being that they watch, take notes and write a plan during one lesson then the following week they make thier own.

Loads of them were mucking about though and not paying attention and this quite understandably got right on my tits. As previously stated I had spent my own precious leisure time slaving over a hot oven. Or beside it at least.

So I let it be known that I would be checking their books at the end of the lesson and if they hadn't made a decent plan following my instructions then they wouldn't get to cook the following week. Incidentally I have always liked this particular quirk of the subject I teach. The fact that you can wield the threat of them not getting to do their practical work as a motivational tool. I can't imagine threatening to suspend their precious quadratic equations would have the same impact in maths...

Anyway I marked their books at some point over the week and was shocked, appalled and filled with mirth on more than one occasion. My favourite entry was from a young lad who wrote confidently:

Step 3: Roll the pastry and put into steel thing
Step 4: Put paper on top
Step 5: Add the "blind bacon"

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


A class from my school were on a trip to a museum in London where they were going to view some works of art. The guide from the museum stood up and asked the year 8's if they knew who the famous artist was that had his work on show in the museum.


"Come on" said the guide "who could the artist be?"

One lad put his hand up...

"erm... is it Vincent Vaughn?"

"No" said the guide "Vincent Vaughn is an actor"

Another boy puts up his hand.


"Erm.. no Shakespeare was a famous playwright"

The first boy put up his hand again and frantically waves it about.

"Oh I know! It's Leonardo Da Vinci code!"

Health and Safety matters.

I had a last minute switch of classrooms the other day, as has been the norm this year, so I hadn't really planned anything for my year sevens to do. The whole department is being rebuilt and so we are in an array of temporary rooms. Total pain in the arse but there you go.

So I thought I would do a Health and safety lesson and use to help me out.

I brought up the following page: Safety Starter

...and asked the students to name as many unsafe practices as possible from the animated picture. There are about fifteen or so.

Anyway one of the boys thought that one of the unsafe practices was that the guy cartwheeling through the workshop had the wrong uniform on.


Sunday, 5 October 2008

Music notes

To date I have played only a few things to my classes.

Kruder and Dorfmeister DJ Kicks and K&D sessions both went down pretty well. Although there were a few dissenting voices.

Appleblims resident advisor mix of techno/Dubstep went down really well with a year 10 Product design class although one boy John couldn't stand it. He wanted singing. I think he is also into Opera so I'm not sure I can really cater for him. Frankie asked what type of music it was and when she was told it was Dubstep said she had never heard of it.

DJ Vadim went down better with John but a few didn't know what type of music it was. "erm...Hip Hop?" was my answer.


More experimenting to follow.

Detention! Run boy run

The detention slip I found in my pigeon hole amused me on Friday:

"Alfie provided a note to excuse him from PE because he couldn't walk. Alfie was later running during the lesson chasing a football. I asked him to stay behind after the lesson and he ran off. "