There’s nothing like not meeting the norms of a community to make you feel like you don’t belong. I think half the reason I originally went for middle school training was because I knew I didn’t really fit in with primary school teachers. Not because I’m male, but because of so many other things that I think or do that just don’t… fit.
So here go, my list of confessions. Reasons why I’ll never really belong.
1. I like a bit of blank space on the walls
I’m not a big fan of putting up displays, much less of constantly updating them with children’s work every few days. And don’t even get me started on those folk who like to plaster every wall and window, and even hang things from string across the room! Set aside the fact that I’m just short of 6′, and often find such things dangling in my way, or trying to strangle me; what’s wrong with a bit of white space? I’d much rather see a bit of magnolia paint than another pre-printed display!
2. I use pen in maths
This is tantamount to sacrilege in some quarters. When I once posted about it on Twitter I was accused of being an arrogant bully! But nobody yet has given me a convincing answer as to why it is that all primary schools pupils must use pencil in maths. Nevertheless, it remains a widespread norm. In almost every case, schools expect pupils to progress to pen during Y2-4 in other subjects, but for some reason pencil is king in maths. Personally, I’d prefer to see kids recognising that in maths mistakes are made… and that’s part of the process, than ever reaching for the rubber.
3. I hardly ever laminate anything
How did schools ever cope before laminating pouches? Now displays all over are covered in that shiny glaze. The most common argument is I’ve heard is that it means the resources can be re-used. But most primary school children are past the stage of unexpected vomiting; surely a piece of paper can be stored from one year to the next much more easily if it fits into a simple A4 plastic wallet – something you can’t do once it’s been laminated!
4. I think stand-alone grammar lessons have a place
One of the great difficulties of teaching older children about interesting writing, is that they lack the vocabulary to talk about it. Interesting variety of sentence structures can be achieved through the use of verbs or adverbial phrases as sentence starters. But a child who isn’t clear what an adverb is cannot possibly understand how to replace it with an adverbial phrase, let alone re-order the word sequence for effect.
5. I don’t collect things as I go about my life
There’s many a teacher who finds themselves picking up odds and ends while on holiday, or just about town on the premise that “it will come in handy” for some school project. Some teachers’ classrooms are filled with knick-knacks that they’ve gathered over the years because they suited a particular topic, or would be a great resource for some project or other.
When I moved out of my last classroom, I had about 3 boxes of books and that was it. I just don’t seem to think of such things, much less collect them!
Of course, I do like a bit of stationery, so I’m not a complete misfit.