Thursday, 27 December 2007

Gi's a job

One of the first emails I had today was a reminder from recruitment site eteach that there are vacancies in my area. Of course I had to check. The grass always looks greener after all. Then going to check the news at the BBC I noticed that one of the top five stories was about the thousands of teachers who leave the profession. According to findings, nearly 10,000 teachers left teaching for other jobs between 2000 and 2005. And in 2005, 8,000 people qualified to be teachers but did not go into teaching.

Now this sounds like a lot but I know that the number of teacher training places at colleges and universities has increased, and that there is now a variety of funding and grants to train to teach certain subjects or in certain areas. To a debt-burdened graduate, being paid to gain an extra qualification is no bad thing. However, paying somebody to take a course when there is no intention of doing the job after the training seems like a waste of money. So why are too many teachers being trained?

Some trainees find it difficult to get a job upon completing the course. Those who are flexible and willing to move and tough it out in an area with a high teacher turnover will always find desperate schools ready to snap them up. But those who are restricted geographically because of family, for example, often find themselves on the books of a supply agency, sent out to all sorts of jobs on an irregular basis, unable to consolidate the work they've done during their training course and not able to complete their NQT years. And when there's no supply work they have to find something else... and suddenly they aren't teaching, but working in an office or a store: a statistic in surveys.

Why should teaching be for life anyway? Some of the worst teachers I know are those jaded and brow-beaten by years of churning out the same content, trying to make it fresh and exciting for the 35th year in a row to the 70th class... "and we call that an ox-bow lake..." or "to find x we have to multiply together these two figures...". New teaching methods come and go but the content often stays pretty much the same: "a simile is different to a metaphor because...", "and in October of 1066 Harold was defeated...". It doesn't matter if you use flashy interactive whiteboards or show innovative DVDs, reveal information by piecing together cards in groups or by playing a game, when you have stood in front of a bunch of adolescents for the tenth or twentieth time and hear the same factoid trickle from your lips it can cause alarming deja vu.

Some of my colleagues have been doing the same thing for three times longer than me. I'm tired of it now, already. Some teachers get promoted and move out of regurgitating the same old stuff but there's not room for everyone at the top. Maybe there should be more opportunities for sideways movement to non-teaching but education-related roles. That way the teachers who are weary of cutting out cards for the next class to wreck can move out of the classroom before they become too jaded, and the new fresh teachers from college can bubble and fizz at the front of the class while they have the enthusiasm.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Love the holidays!

Sunday evening of the holidays - is there a more sweeter time?! Usually I'm in a grumpy unmarked-book and unfulfilled-weekend kind of mood, but for the first time since the third week of August (um yes, I was working half term week, more fool me) Sunday evening is here and I feel burden-free. Lounging around in the bath just now, getting ready to go out (ha ha! - no school nights for two weeks!) I was thinking about how much I love the holidays if only for the most mundane of reasons:
  • I got up to date with all my washing. I hadn't had time to do my washing for so long that I'd forgotten quite how to operate the washing machine, but once that distant memory was restored the machine was in action from sunrise to sunset. I know it sounds odd - it's not like we have to go scrub our smalls at the cold river's edge any more - but the sorting and loading and unloading takes up precious weekend time that I just haven't had. Or I've just been too lazy. Now for two weeks my laundry basket will not overflow, and I will always have something clean in my wardrobe. Happy days.
  • I slobbed around and read the papers without feeling guilty and annoyed with myself because I should be marking instead.
  • I watched a load of TV programmes I'd Sky-plussed and which had been waiting on the hard drive since about October.

And although my cold is still rampaging through my body, I'm trying very hard to ignore it and not let it spoil this Christmas like it did last year.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Just to say...

And so it took less than 24 hours of the holidays commencing for me to get a sore throat with a side order of sneezing fits. And this is precisely what happened last Christmas holidays too. I was ill last year for about 10 days of the holidays, sneezing and snorting all over the place, and feeling too grotty even for a New Year's Eve tipple. If anyone knows of any quick fixes that don't involve whisky (tried that one this evening; hasn't worked) then please do let me know!

Friday, 21 December 2007

It's here! End of term!

Yes! Made it! The holidays are here but I've got a feeling I'll still be in bed by about 10pm this evening. No "Black Friday" shenanagins for me. I'm tired and will hopefully have caught up with sleep and laundry and present wrapping by Christmas Day. I did see the sun rise on my way to work, beautiful and golden red, and then it sunk down again as I drove home. At least the days start to get longer again now. Hopefully teaching will be far from my thoughts over the next few days, so wishing you all a very merry and restful Christmas!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

So far?

So here we are then. Just one more working day of this year - well, at school anyway. I know I've got three carrier bags of books waiting by my desk to bring home tomorrow, so that's something to look forward to. And what will tomorrow bring? Over-excited children, rampaging around corridors, floors awash with sweet wrappers and Christmas card envelopes, and a good couple of hours of keeping the pupils contained while they're in no mood to work - or sit, for that matter. Then there is the carol service, which could be so lovely, but usually ends up with the head teacher hollering at anyone who dares to shuffle in their seat during the hour's service.

Today though, I have laughed. Even at 9am my Year 8 class were hyperactively over the top, and took their quiz way too seriously, with some massive sulking and jeering going on - it was like being down the local pub's quiz league. But even I have been infected with end of term fever, to the extent that come lunchtime when I'm normally running around or running a club, I just couldn't be arsed to do a thing. It was great.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Cleaning out my closet

Some of the random stuff I found in my classroom cupboard while clearing it out today:
  • 40 year old dust on a pile of old books last used in 1960-something;
  • a bunch of coursework from a class from a few years back who were the biggest pains in the butt - and I really enjoyed shredding that lot!
  • a folder full of newspaper articles I'd collected that I thought I could use in my lessons but never did, and instead they now look dated and irrelevant;
  • some of my PGCE-year resources that I've never been able to use again because the curriculum changed soon after;
  • a set of Year 7 exercise books belonging to some of the students who are now in my Year 11 class, which made me smile because their work was so lovely back then... as opposed to now...!
  • several umbrellas that for some reason have been chucked in there over the past few months;
  • a big bag of coloured paper and pens that I'd forgotten about and which the school could never afford to buy now, so I'm going to have to hide and ration it all out very carefully.

And that was the most interesting part of my day.

EMAs: Education Mess Around

Whilst perusing other blogs, I found myself nodding along in agreement to this comment about EMAs. EMAs are Education Maintenance Grants (or something like that) which are weekly sums paid to sixth form students as long as they turn up to lessons and stay in education past the age of 16. In theory this sounds all well and good. In practice it means that our school now attracts a whole extra quota of ne'er-do-wells and has to provide courses for them to take, such as "Deckchair Studies" and "Hair and Nails". And as many of these students have previously failed to gain a C grade in any GCSE subjects, they also re-sit a few exams.

Or rather, they are supposed to. Instead, I have a couple of slots per week on my timetable which are for some crappy waste-of-space course to which these students rarely turn up. I obediently do all the necessary preparation, and was quite enthused to start with in that typical September way; I researched ways to teach the course in an interesting way to get the best out of such slackers, and prepared topical resources. And for the first few sessions I did relish having just a few students to concentrate on, as they each had some tutorial time with me to work one-on-one whilst the others started projects. But now these sixth-formers have wised up to the fact that they can still get their grants without actually having to do very much at all.

Therefore today I had a class devoid of students, until one turned up half way through the sesssion, blowing gum bubbles and nodding along to his ipod, no books or bag or even a pen. I just sent him away again in disgust and went back to clearing out my book cupboard and eating the chocolates I'd brought in for prizes. So yeah, it worked out well for me. But at some point I'm going to be expected to be accountable, and these slackers will have to sit their exams...

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

When's Christmas?

"When's Christmas?" I overheard one member of my form ask another.

"21st I think," replied the other.

Maybe they are pagans.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Blogroll again

I've just been surfing around and looking at teachers' blogs again, and have linked to a couple more here. The TES website also hosts teacher blogs but I can't find any order there and it seems like pot-luck whether you land on blogs which are up-to-date or not.

So if you are a teacher reading this, especially if you work in the UK, and particularly if you like taking the piss (or should I put "making light of tough situations"? - hmmm, edit later perhaps), then please get in touch and I'll put you in the blogroll.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Armstrong and Miller

I've only just started watching a comedy sketch show called The Armstrong and Miller Show, but am really enjoying it. One of the sketches is based on those Teacher Recruitment adverts I have discussed before on my original website and I've found some links on You Tube, so that I've got them all in one place to laugh at time and time again, and I hope you enjoy too. As Homer (Simpson, not the Greek guy) says: "It's funny 'cos it's true"...

13 weeks of holiday a year
Party has to end sometime
We'll square it with the Abbey
Last Resort
Take it out on the kids

While I was on You Tube I found another funny teacher sketch they did, but watch out because this one contains strong language... and so does this one, which is nothing like me at all... hahaha.

More about The Armstrong and Miller Show from the BBC.

Friday, 14 December 2007

TFI Friday Evening

Today started off well. I had prepared a lesson so tight that it was like a straight-jacket the minute they walked through the doors begging to make Christmas cards instead of work (this was Year 11). There was no room for nonsense, and they actually learnt stuff, which is my little seasonal gift to them. Well, they aren't getting chocolate: this group has too many allergies and the epi-pens are kept too far away from my room.

The next lesson was similar in keeping a lid on things... and then it all went downhill from there. Manic children pounded the lessons at break and lunchtime, and even during lessons when I suppose some gullible supply teacher believed forged notes to go here or there. There were fights and pushing and shouting and non-stop attempts to wind me up.

The only relief was when a special needs group reminded me I'd promised them a DVD as a treat, which was true but I'd just forgotten, and so for about forty minutes there was sweet silence as they savoured their reward for so much hard work and good behaviour. And then the bell rang and the next bunch of rowdy hooligans barged their way through the door... Why is it that those who proclaim to hate school the most are always there right up to the last minute? Don't they realise this is prime truancy time? or is it just too bloody cold to hang around bus shelters at this time of year?

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Quick squeak

In a Year 7 group the kids are still so clingy and needy that they are forever coming up to me mid-lesson to show me what they're doing. They are still in that primary school mode of zooming straight for the bin as soon as they are told they need a pencil, and standing there hypnotically sharpening their pencils until there's a short stub left, albeit with a spiky point of lead.

But there's this one girl whose voice is just so high and squeaky that I just can't hear a word she says. I'm sure I noticed a pack of dogs howling up at my window today as she squeaked away at me as usual...

Hall of Fame

I don’t know if I’ve been walking around the school with blinkers, or if the corridors are usually too blocked with teenagers to notice the walls, but something freaky happened as I was strolling about during a free period yesterday, trying to look busy because I couldn’t be bothered to do any more marking. I glanced at a few of the photos stuck up on various walls, of the pupils’ great achievements: fully aced exam results, competition winners, sports teams topping their leagues… the photos showed gaggles of pupils brandishing certificates, some grinning and others looking slightly embarrassed. The next time I passed the display cabinets I looked in to see the latest batch of trophies and pictures, and this was when a strange shiver rippled down my spine, and not just because the heating system is on the blink again.

For I noticed, as my eyes flicked from one picture to the next and the next, that the same ten or so kids appeared in each set of photos – there they were as key players in a hockey or football team, next they were members of the debating team, here they were waving exam certificates, there they were at the summit of Ben Nevis… it was like we were at Stepford School, or the biology department is doing more advanced cloning than they’re letting on. But it made me think of a truth that hadn’t really bubbled up from my sub-conscious before: out of hundreds of pupils, only a few ever get the trophies and medals of life.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Trying to be productive

The last few school days of 2007 might as well be written off as far as getting any productive work done – and why should it be all workworkwork anyway? It’s hard to drag yourself into school at this time of year with a hangover as Christmas parties rage every night – at least, this is what my form group tell me.

So I decided to take the opportunity while one of my classes was colouring in some snowflakes to plan my photocopying needs for the beginning of next term – just eleven work days away after all. And while I was leafing through my planner I decided I may as well work out what I’d be doing with my Year 11 group up until half term in February, which boils down to only about 12 teaching hours. This for me is when the panic begins to set in. For the Year 11s it’s irrelevant, they feel no panic until the moment they realise they’re off on study leave the next day.

When Year 11 sauntered in later that day I still had a pencil poised ready over my planner. I’d noticed the annual ski trip etched in during term time and wanted to know how many were going to be on the piste rather than in my classes for that week. Thankfully, only two would be away. But eleven others were off the week before on some timely geography field trip, so altogether I have already lost 4 of the 12 hours. Add to this the mock exams… argh… well, just half the amount of planning for Year 11 then. Teaching, eh? It just gets in the way of everything else going on in school.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Hoodie or not

This evening after school I had a few errands to run. I was dallying around the shops nearest to my home, and at one point had to nip through a badly-lit car park. I'd seen a group of youths hanging around outside one of the shops but ignored them, as you do. They wouldn't go to the school I teach at, so they just become a group of anonymous hoodies to me. But as I left the cover of the street lamps I noticed a couple of figures following me. I shrugged it off as coincidence, but vaguely became aware that there I was, chatting on my new mobile phone, in an shadowy car park with two youths following me.

I emerged into the next street and turned towards the doorway I was about to enter. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the two youths. Then one of them said, "Oh it is you! I thought it was. 'ow are ya?" I turned to face them full on. One of them was a face I recognised, a boy who had been in my GCSE group for about five minutes after he'd been turfed out of one school, before he was kicked out of ours too. He'd spent most of the time in my lessons scowling, messing around and refusing to do a shred of work. Yet here he was, grinning inanely, and chatting quite coherently too, so not apparently under the influence of anything illegal or otherwise. And what did he want? Well supposedly he did a scribble of coursework for me which he just now has discovered that he wants, so very lucky for him that I happened to be walking past at that very time, miles away from his old school, just as he realised he needed it. Strange that he hadn't thought of it in the six months since he left, but there you go.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Jingle Hell

So it's jingle all the way. I don't want to look like a grouch, even if I may well be one, and spoil the whole Christmas thing for the kids. Year 7s get so excited about Christmas, even if it's just the sugar rushes from seasonal bribes from other teachers. This year at the beginning of December my Year 7 group begged me to spend the next three weeks making cards. They told me that Year 6 had been such a busy time for them with tests and assessments that they weren't allowed to have any fun.

But it's not such a jolly time for all. One of my classes is packed full of the type of kid that teachers refer to as "characters" in polite company, and "little bastards" under their breath as they turn to the board to cool down. Behaviour is always a contentious issue with some of them, and the classroom equilibrium balances on a hair's width. A piece of paper fluttering the wrong way can be the catalyst for everything to kick off, with three or four of them always ready to explode.

Today a couple of them were on the edge of exploding with rage, and channelled their energies into irritating all the other kids in the class with well-aimed insults and stares, and random noises and whistles. They were looking for reactions, which I've learned not to give, instead trying my well-used methods of letting them fizz away without exploding, whilst allowing the other kids to work without bother. It's not perfect, but I've never seen or heard of a perfect solution.

However the LSAs in the room were looking at me expecting me to do something about these boys (for in this case, as in most, the disruption was coming from boys). Most of them have the same group of pupils with them all day every day, and have my utmost pity. So to make a bit of a show for them really, and knowing deep down it would have no effect, I summoned the two irritants to the front of the room, and one at a time went through the process of filling in reports which will be sent to their head of year. Now I know that currently the head of year has enough on his plate, and that my reports will just be added to his files of evidence about these boys, but the act of filling them in sends out some sort of message anyway.

It was later in the day that I spoke with some visiting pastoral psychologist person who pops in every now and again to assess whether certain pupils need time in the slammer, or Pupil Referral Unit as it's more properly known. I thought I'd mention these boys, and she immediately seized the opportunity to fill me in on one of the boys in particular. It turns out that his shabby excuse for a mother is usually out of it on heroin, and deals drugs to all and sundry from their flat. Her children are hollered at to stay in their rooms, and some of them never see their fathers because at least one of them will be in prison at any one time. I couldn't keep up with how many siblings this boy has, but he sounds like he is the oldest and looks after the younger ones while the flat is open all hours to all kinds of undesirables. He has been in and out of foster care, and I don't understand how the children can be allowed to live there at all, but for some screwed up reason they are.

Learning all that just made me feel awful. And angry too, so bloody angry at poor excuses for parents who pop kids out to ensure constant handouts from the benefit system, whilst neglecting and abusing the very offspring who are keeping them in milk tokens and free dental care. They would need the latter if they ever thought to turn up to see me at Parents' Evening.

But what can I do? I can't treat these children any differently because that would single them out in front of their peers. Yet with their erratic behaviour, they are already making themselves noticed. All I know is that they probably account for quite a few of the pupils who are not looking forward to the Christmas holidays.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Jingle Bells

Most years I am the grumpiest of teachers when it comes to Christmas. Usually, Christmas in my classroom starts two days before we break up, whilst other teachers have been showing bits of films (that the kids never see the ends of) for a week or two already. But I know that the kids get bored with endless DVDs and "free lessons", and as for the LSAs that accompany certain kids from lesson to lesson... they develop a hollow-eyed stare of desperation when they enter the room, nervously looking towards the TV or screen to check that you haven't got "Shrek" paused and ready to play because they've seen it already that day, and the kids are on the edge of boredom and hyperactivity.

But this year, with the Christmas concert rehearsals in full swing, most of my classes are only half full. And now there are fewer than three weeks of school to go, those parents whose experience of this time of year is endless DVDs filling up their children's days often decide that now is the time to take the whole family to visit relatives or grab a cheap holiday to see the red coats of Butlins or the Red Sea in Egypt.

So I've had to anticipate half full hyperactive classes arriving, who are fully expecting a "free lesson"... and in a way I'm giving it to them. I haven't started dishing out chocolates yet because that is the signal that the end of term is imminent, but we have been cutting out snowflakes to decorate written work and posters, and having the kind of one-off lessons that mean no real marking for me, and also mean that nobody who isn't there misses out on important curriculum-based stuff. I've also been playing Christmas music and am experiencing the "Santa-baby" edge-of-psychosis that shop assistants everywhere must be feeling by now.

But it does mean I've still got ten school days to fill with seasonally-inspired lessons, as I've already started to use my Christmas resources with each year group, and these will run out pretty soon. It could well be that I'm rummaging around in my DVD collection before the end of next week...

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

What did you do in the Great Concert, teacher?

Once every few years, when there's a whiff on an inspection in the air, the school decides it had better hold a Christmas concert. Such an event ticks a lot of boxes on an inspector's list, I'm sure, from the one about having a sense of school community to the other one about including even those who are completely tone deaf in musical ventures.

Therefore, this year we are having a Christmas concert. Such an event is seen to be beyond the abilities of the music teacher, and it's true that his nerves are shot to pieces after a long term of children going mad with percussion instruments at close range for five hours a day, five days each week. So the joy of seeing all his hard work come together in a festive display of music and harmony has been denied him, and instead the professionals have been brought in - a husband and wife team whose job it is to wade into schools with sheet music and donkey costumes and co-ordinate school concerts and nativity plays.

This Christmas concert is taking precedent over everything else. Coursework not done? The Year 11 slackers wave their excuse notes to say they were too busy practising the triangle or guitar. Class half empty? Year 8 are having their costumes fitted which is far more important than getting an education. Third cover period of the week? Of course, the teacher is painting scenery and can't possibly teach at this important time.

That wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the additional guilt trips laid down upon us. If you're not doing something in your own time for the Christmas Concert then your future is probably screwed already. There are teachers staying up into the wee small hours sewing sequins onto angel wings, other staff ferreting in every charity shop in the region for suitable props, whilst yet others are attending weekend rehearsals - not for the pleasure of singing, but to keep the hordes of over-excited children under control when they're not needed on stage.

When you become a teacher, you don't know half of what you're letting yourself in for. Perhaps it's one of the highlights of the year in primary school - in fact, I'm sure it is. The excitement of little children, the making of decorations and cards, the rehearsing for the nativity play (or non-denominational alternative) - all of this is part of the fun in primary school. But I didn't chose to be a primary teacher - for some reason I just can't remember now, I chose secondary, which gives me the right to be grumpy and moan in a jaded way about long hours, too much marking and bad behaviour. I shouldn't also have to whinge about what should be a lovely sparkly time of year too. But when I think of the sweat shop labours of my colleagues when they should be decorating their own trees with their own children, I suddenly feel like Scrooge.

Gulags for all!

Awww, you can tell it's nearly Christmas, because the Senior Management Team have given us all presents. I bet they had to think really hard about the something special that we all wanted, and sent out spies to peer at our desks and see what we liked to collect the most. And it looked like the spies did a good job, because we've all been given some more forms, to go with the sets we already have. How thoughtful.

And to make it extra special, these forms are not intended to report on the pupils, or our schemes of work revisions, or mock exam data, or anything like that. Oh no, these forms are a chance for us to write about ourselves! They are in fact self-criticisms, sheets for us to confess how often we don't finish our lessons with plenaries or adhere to the totalitarian regime of Assessment For Learning. So I am currently waiting for the school's own Chairman Mao to yoink me out of my classroom and stand me in front of a committee or firing squad until I can prove my innocence in 2007's AFL cultural revolution.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Blogroll please...

This evening I've been allowing myself a little self-indulgence. Not only have I got a little bit of time to set up this blog-space, but I've also been searching for other teacher blogs out there. It's been a while since I've read other blogs, and I know a few of my old favourites have hibernated for a while, just like I did over the summer and autumn.

But I would like to build up a blogroll of teachers' links, for my convenience and that of my visitors, so we can all keep up with everybody else's funny tales and frustrations. So please get in touch with me if you are a blogging teacher, and I can start my list!

And if you are visiting me because I left you a message on your page, I hope you can forgive my intrusion, and let me have your details so I can add you to my blogroll! Thanks!

The Cover Supervisor

Like many schools, we seem to have solved the problem of no longer being able to force teachers to take too many cover lessons by employing an unqualified and semi-illiterate Cover Supervisor to take the lessons.

Fortunately the kids love her and so rarely play her up the way they do the daily supply teachers. She has low expectations and sets minimal work so spends her time showing the kids her tattoos. Therefore she is officially cool.

Her main lesson idea seems to be for the kids to make up raps. The other day I walked in on a history lesson she was covering, to find the children rapping about the holocaust. I’m no specialist, but I’m not sure how appropriate that is, actually. Another favourite seems to be the acrostic poem solution, where you have a key word you write vertically on the board, and each line of the poem has to start with a letter of the key word. Fine for something like “CHRISTMAS”, or "HOLLY":

Hooray our teacher's off today
On some dull course
Lucky us we have not much to do
Like make up really crap poems that are supposed to be about
Yule. Whatever that is.

...but a bit buttock-clenching when you see “GENOCIDE” left up on your board. I think the first line started with “Germans…” but it was like one of those car-crash scenarios where you prefer just to look away if you’re squeamish…

Weeding out the chaff

In the news recently: Remove bad teachers, says advisor.

The unions replied that teachers are being trained even more thoroughly these days. I’ve no doubts about that. Gone, thankfully, are the days when the trainee teacher was thrown into a classroom with barely enough time to smooth down his tie/her cardigan before being expected to deliver a term's worth of lessons with no further supervision. These days it's all forms-in-triplicate and boxes to tick off to check that they have scowled for the required number of minutes each lesson.

But thinking personally, yes there are teachers I know who shouldn’t be in the job. I wouldn’t want to be the boss. If I was in charge, I’d have to do whatever I could to get rid of them. It’s not that they aren’t caring people who try their best, it’s just that most of those I’m thinking of probably came into the job before there was the rigorous training of today. They were the lot who were shoved into a classroom, the door shut behind them, and told to get on with it. Not an ideal way to learn about the many facets of teaching. They may have had training since, but they don’t grasp anything more up-to-date than the invention of the calculator.

We recently had a little inspection, and it was clear that some of the teachers are clueless as to what inspectors want to see. Not that inspectors necessarily want to see what we all do, day in and day out, but the fact was that these teachers couldn’t even raise their game for a few lessons.

But it’s not just older teachers who aren’t letting the kids learn well. Some of the student teachers we’ve had pass through in the past few years should never have even passed A-levels, let alone been accepted onto PGCE courses. They may have the best intentions in the world, but they come in with a scarily lacking knowledge base, and basic skills that need to go way back to basics. By the end of the year a couple of them were still incapable of organising themselves, let alone a classroom, but there were no majorly outstanding failings to stop them gaining their PGCEs and going off to show future generations the wrong way to write a sentence.

A merry Christmas present to me!

'Tis the season to be jolly, and very jolly I should be feeling too, for (a) there are less than three weeks until we break up for Christmas (13 working days to be precise, 8 working days plus 5 days of films, quizzes, concerts and chocolate to be even more precise), and (b) I took an executive decision as the one and only Ranting Teacher of nearly five years' worth of moaning - the decision to "get with the program": the blogging program that is, and use somebody else's formatting to save me squinting at html code to update my own site - which I haven't done in a long, long while now.

So a little present to myself - a tiny corner of blogspot, which I shall link to from my existing website until it falls over from the weight of non-conformity to the bastions of web standards, whoever and wherever they may be.