EMAIL 50 – Title: “Additional Assemblies”
Is it okay if we leave some bags/coats to the right of the classrooms?
I seat pupils of both sides of my room when I’m teaching, you see…
Preamble to email 51:
Based on a completely true story…until the part where it’s not true at all…
EMAIL 51 – Title: “Indicators”
Driving to work this morning, I stopped behind a car which, while stationary, proceeded to indicate left. A few seconds later, it then indicated right. I was somewhat bewildered by these actions, given that the vehicle was not only stationary, but was also situated on a straight road with no immediate turning opportunities ahead.
We soon got moving again and, much further down the road the car took a left turn. It did not indicate beforehand. It then quickly turned right but, again, no indicators were used.
The ingenuity of the situation then struck me. The driver hadn’t been irresponsible at all. He had used his indicators for both turns. However, he had simply chosen to use them much in advance of the actual turns themselves.
I am much impressed by the forethought of this most astute of drivers.
And, such is my newfound admiration for his technique, I shall follow his fine example when I next embark on a journey whose route is well known to me.
Knowing beforehand that my journey is to consist of, say, 3 left turns and 4 right turns, I shall use my indicators for all 7 turns before I even begin my journey! That gets them out of the way, and so allows me concentrate solely on my driving during the journey. I’m amazed that I hadn’t considered this before, for it seems so obvious to me now.
And before any of you decide to object to my plan, do not worry, dear colleagues. I will use my indicators in the correct order, according to the order that the turns shall be taken upon my journey.
To do otherwise would just doing a disservice to my fellow road-users.
Preamble to email 52:
If a student is to be allowed out of your lesson for whatever reason (e.g. toilet) then they need to borrow their teacher’s ‘out-of-class pass’.
EMAIL 52 – Title: “Out-of-Class Pass”
I’m confused (a sensation that is admittedly not foreign to me…)
I’m also feeling a bit rebellious (see previous parenthesised comment).
I just collected my new, luminous green, ‘out of class’ pass.
The pass contains the following instruction:
“One student is entitled to carry this card.”
I read this whilst carrying the card to back to my teaching room.
I am not a student, so does that mean that I have no entitlement to carry the card?
If so, I have just committed a rebellious act.
I must rectify this or else my conscience will haunt me forever.
How can I retain my pass without carrying it?
Should I kick it along the floor as I walk?
I suppose that might seem fitting, given that the football World Cup starts tomorrow.
Or maybe I should try to launch it ‘frisbee-style’ to my destination.
But that could be hazardous to colleagues/pupils who might be in the way of my sharp-edged projectile.
I clearly need to enlist the services of a student.
But, apparently, only one student is entitled to carry the card.
Who is that student?
The one student is not named.
Is it the same student who is responsible for all our cards? Or do we all have a student each?
What if the wrong student carries the wrong card?
Too many questions…
I think I’ll pass on this one (pun intended).
Preamble to email 53:
Remember Mr. Hunt from email 20?
Well, here he is again creating yet further mischief.
He enters the fray part way through this next email.
Note: It’s a pure coincidence that Mr. Hunt happens to share the same surname as me…
EMAIL 53 – Title: “Lines”
Good morning colleagues
I’m thinking about lines today.
I know. Who isn’t? But do humour your line-loving colleague, if you will.
It’s just that lines are so wonderfully satisfying, you see.
They evoke all manner of emotions and, without them, I’d argue that life would be an altogether more turgid affair.
Not sure what I mean? Well, let me give you an example where lines really do come up trumps (no, not ’Maths Trumps’…although they’re amazing too, and I know the author well if you want to meet him…)
Now, where was I before I went tangential?
Oh yes, my example:
As teachers, we’ve probably all encountered a pupil who seems to have the uncanny ability to raise our blood pressures at will.
No? In that case, you’ll just have to trust me that such a variety of child does indeed exist.
No, I’m not lying to you.
And if you do meet such a child, you may well aspire to my theory that they all such children possess purpose-built remote controls, designed for the very task of skyrocketing our blood pressures to devilishly dangerous levels.
What I’m saying is that they all know exactly which buttons to press!
This is when lines can be so terribly satisfying.
The line can be anything from ‘I must behave in class’ to ‘I must endeavour to approach the remainder of my school life with dignity, honour and an infinite respect for those noble superiors who drain themselves of their very life’s resources in order to enlighten me via the medium of education.’
It really doesn’t matter.
For, once issued to our pesky pupil, writers’ cramp hastily beckons, and you can feel karma doing its thing.
Then, once those lines are complete, and you’ve subsequently slam-dunked them into the nearest receptacle (this must be witnessed by the child for truly maximal effect), well, there’s just no better feeling of downright justice. I mean, let’s face it, even Bart Simpson couldn’t wriggle away from their fate!
But for those of you who consider the process I’ve described above to be somewhat antiquated, I guess I’ll have to find another way to share the love that lines can (and do) offer us.
So how about this then?
Consider a chap called Chris Martin, lead vocalist of the successful band Coldplay.
He likes his lines too, and he clearly realises the emotions that can be aroused by mentioning them in his song lyrics.
In a well-known Coldplay hit (called Yellow), he sings the following verse:
Please note that I also offer you my personal reaction (italicised) as the song progresses – I just couldn’t help it!
This is how it goes:
“I drew a line”
You did? Hey, why not? You only live once after all. I salute you, Chris! Go for it!
“I drew a line for you”
Oh, how romantic! How unselfish not to draw it all for yourself! I couldn’t have resisted the urge! She’s so lucky to have you!
“Oh, what a thing to do”
Yes indeed! She must have been speechless! Do I hear wedding bells?
“And it was all yellow”
You drew her a yellow line?
Where did you draw it? Outside of her house, where she parks her car?
Why not add insult to injury and draw her double yellow lines, you two-faced brute!
She’d have a fine time then, wouldn’t she!
I must allow myself to calm down for a moment.
This happens every time I hear (or in this case read) those words.
Hearing those lyrics ignites those inner emotions every time. Their potency is unparalleled.
It’s lines, you see. They do that.
So, what was your own response, my venerable colleague?
Are your eyes not moist with fresh tears?
Did the Coldplay lyrics not pluck at your very heartstrings?
Did you not feel yourself being carried away on the crest of an emotional wave?
Then I simply cannot understand.
You confuse me.
Okay then. I’ll try one last time to convince you of the power and the magnificence of which only lines can boast.
Desperate times required desperate measures.
So, consider the following scenario, which should be all too familiar to you.
If this doesn’t persuade you, I fear nothing will.
You approach a sales assistant in a high street store
(You can choose the store, although they’re closing at such a rate that it might no longer exist by the time you’ve finished reading this email.
You cannot, however, choose the sales assistant’s name, for it is Bob, as printed in capital letters on his proudly worn staff badge.)
Bob: Hello, sir. How can I help you?
Mr. Hunt: Good morning, Bob. I was just looking at the sign on this clothes rail.
Mr. Hunt: It says ‘50% off selected lines’.
Mr. Hunt: So, where are they?
Bob: What do you mean, sir?
Mr. Hunt: The lines.
Bob: What lines?
Mr. Hunt: The selected lines.
Bob: They’re on this rail sir.
Mr. Hunt: Oh, I see.
Bob: Will that be all sir?
Mr. Hunt: Well, no.
Bob: Then how may I be of further assistance to you?
Mr. Hunt: You can’t.
Mr. Hunt: You can’t be of further assistance until you have assisted me in the first place.
Bob: I see. Then how I may I assist you?
Mr. Hunt: By telling me the exact location of the selected lines?
With a look of bewilderment, Bob points towards the clothes on the rail.
Mr. Hunt: If there are lines there, young man, then they are well hidden.
Bob: I don’t follow you, sir?
Mr. Hunt: Good! I’d have you arrested for stalking if you did!
Bob stands dumbfounded, at a complete loss for words.
Mr. Hunt: And don’t you ever entertain such a notion again!
Bob continues to stand motionless, as if in complete shock.
Mr. Hunt: Now, continuing my enquiry: I can certainly see lines on the floor, where the edges of the tiles meet each other.
Bob looks at the floor.
Mr. Hunt: Could it be those lines that the sign is referring to?
Bob starts looking around in the hope of attracting a colleague to offer some support.
Mr. Hunt: And if I allow myself a little pedantry, young man, I’d argue that any lines you offer are actually line segments; not lines!
Bob decides that this situation is way above his pay grade. He was never trained for this.
Bob: Would you like to speak with the manager, sir?
Mr. Hunt: A capital idea, young man, unless you can be a little more specific about the nature of these ‘lines’ that you’ve selected for sale.
Bob holds up a pair of trousers taken from the rail.
Bob: One of our selected lines, sir.
Mr. Hunt: Don’t be silly. That’s a pair of trousers.
Bob: Yes, sir, and we’re taking 50% off them.
Mr. Hunt: Why in heaven’s name would anyone do that? You’d only get one leg!
There is a brief hiatus, before Bob responds
Bob: I don’t understand, sir.
Mr. Hunt: Well at least we agree there, young man!
Mr. Hunt: Who’d want a pair of trousers with only one leg? I mean, even if you took 50% off each leg, you’d end up with pair of shorts, which is still hardly going to please anyone who came in for a pair of trousers, is it?
Bob stares at Mr. Hunt blankly. He thought he’d made progress for a moment!
Mr. Hunt: And where does this butchery take place? Does some savage accost us at the check-out with a large pair of scissors? And what if we desist? Do we have 50% of our eyes gouged out instead?
The manager appears. He’s hasn’t been far off, and he’s been listening with incredulity to this remarkable conversation.
He decides now is the time to step in.
Manager: Dear sir. I regret to announce that the sale is now over.
He removes the ‘50% off selected lines’ sign.
Mr. Hunt: But I haven’t seen any of the selected lines yet.
Manager: That’s because they’re all sold out.
Mr. Hunt: But what about those trousers that Bob is holding?
Manager: No lines there I’m afraid. That’s why you couldn’t see them.
Mr. Hunt: No lines?
Manager: No, sir. The sale only applies to fully lined men’s suits. I’m sorry for the confusion, but they’re now all sold out.
Mr. Hunt: What about those lines of the floor?
Manager: We didn’t select those lines, sir.
The manager nods to the security guard, who purposefully walks towards Mr. Hunt.
The manager addresses the security guard:
Manager: Could you please escort this gentleman out of our store? We cannot meet his requirements at this time.
The security guard places a hand on Mr. Hunt’s arm and escorts him towards the doorway.
Mr. Hunt: But how will I know when the sale returns? I don’t want to miss out!
The manager, pre-empting the question, was ready with his response
Manager: Don’t worry, sir. We’ll drop you a line!
Preamble to email 54:
Arriving at a new school can be daunting for inexperienced staff.
So, who better to offer some advice than an old codger like me who has seen it all before…?
EMAIL 54 – Title: “Advice for New Staff”
Good morning everyone
Despite being immersed in a bubble of infinite joy as our return yesterday, I did harbour a few thoughts about the insecurities and apprehensions that some of our new staff might have been feeling whilst they were being bombarded with an avalanche of information.
I thus thought it appropriate to alleviate one or two concerns that might have arisen during the various presentations that we had the privilege to witness.
1. In one presentation yesterday, we were advised (as we were also advised before the 5 week and 2 days holiday) that we all need to be aware of what we should be doing when ‘moving forward’.
I’ll simplify this for you:
‘Moving forward’ is wise advice, for it coincides with the direction that we face, and therefore reduces the chances of bumping into people/walls etc. I have also found, largely from experience, that keeping one’s eyes open is a perfect accompaniment to moving forward, as failure to do so is also likely to cause otherwise avoidable collisions.
2. In another presentation (about exam results), there was much mention of 9 - 7, 9 - 5 etc.
Again, this is simple if you keep things basic:
9 - 7 = 2 and 9 - 5 = 4.
I know that other subtractions were mentioned, but perhaps learn these two first. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself when you’re starting in a new school.
As for being in line with national averages etc., don’t worry about that. The answers I’ve provided above are absolutely correct, so if other schools’ figures don’t match ours, then that’s their problem.
By the way, with regard to 9 – 5, if anyone should refer to this as ‘9 to 5’, you are absolutely entitled to start dancing, no matter what the scenario, and to give your vocal cords the full Dolly Parton treatment.
Just one more for now:
3. This might have seemed a bit unusual but…
….in another presentation (about enrichment/extra-curricular activities of pupils) we were advised to ‘keep a log’.
When I first encountered this advice, it did sound like an act of randomness, but I can assure you that the advice is sound.
I acquire mine from parks mostly, and they make a most gratifying collection.
Furthermore, particularly as a new teacher, you will no doubt want to gain the respect of your fellow professionals as soon as you can.
I understand that.
Well, take it from me that the respect will be etched in peoples’ faces when you tell me them that you’ve spent a blissful evening with a glass of wine and your favourite piece of bark!
Preamble to email 55:
It would have been impossible not to have spoken of Brexit at some point.
This was my first of three Brexit-themed emails.