It’s BTS Time!!!

In Trinidad and Tobago the back-to-school countdown has begun! Many parents and guardians are filling out bookstores, shoe stores and fabric stores to make sure that children are prepped and ready to go for the first day of dispatch on  the 3rd of September. The back-to-school rush is the least favourite of ‘rushes’ for me. I hate that particular last-minute feeling so much so that I remember one year I did all my stationery shopping in the supermarket just to avoid the bacchanal. So every year I do my shopping strategically so that I won’t be caught in the middle of people shouting for books at the clerks with booklists flailing about in loooong lines and police ushering in crowds bit-by-bit. Yes…..this happens….

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See? It’s international! Photo taken from South Africa: https://bereamail.co.za/101667/back-to-school-rush-5/

I remember when I was going to school I used to be excited to return. I loved fresh books, bag and lunchkit. I used to loooooove covering my books with brown paper and plastic and I couldn’t wait to use my new stationery…..(one can never have enough stationery. I’m an adult and I still feel that way.) My gremlinz however are not so inclined and for the life of me I cannot understand why. Let me walk that back……I can understand in the sense that I am in no hurry to return to work to return to my own classrooms but come on!!! New pens and notebooks!!! When I do my stationery run for myself next week that’s what will signal to my brain that the new term cometh so they should get inna gear  to inspire me right? Work is a whole different kettle of fish…..

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In spite of the initial gentle probing, I have now insisted that they begin to look sharp. So over the course of the coming days the routine will start back. I have already begun by one simple step.

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Hahahaha! Yes! The dreaded 9 o’clock curfew has returned. The other night I walked past their bedrooms and in the dark their eyes were open like owls in a cave with no way of escaping. Poor things. They eventually fell asleep though. In the day they’ve started back doing school work. Son-son has a mandate to read all of his literature books before school opens and Mam’zelle just started her online revision via pennacool.com which is really tremendous for children in Trinidad and Tobago gearing up for high-stakes exams. I really endorse it! (unsponsored)

Now little Boyo will not see kindergarten until next year but has already mastered oral counting, alphabet, colours and animal sounds through the kind folks who provide daily earworms on YouTube. Until then I am taking the time to ensure that he develops his soft skills as well as activities that involve holding a crayon or using playdoh. There are many internet resources and apps I found but I want to highlight education.com (also unsponsored) because I found that they have a wide range of activities for children from 2 years old right up. Check out the puzzles on the site like these super cute mazes which I figure will help with patience and critical thinking!Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 12.13.42 PM

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Before you know it, we will be smack at the start of the term so I hope everyone’s rearing to go or at least behind the wheel ready to bounce the starter! If not, think of it this way, the faster you start, the nearer you are to Christmas!

Blessings!

TMIDM

Wanna hear a story?

Here it goes:

Once upon a time on a random Tuesday afternoon, a teacher set aside her lesson to scold her class of form ones (11-13 years olds). They had been behaving badly in recent times and they needed a shake up to try to bring them back to reality.

When the teacher was finished and the bell had rung signalling the end of the school day, she had scarcely reached her office and begun to pack up when she was confronted by another teacher who indicated that two girls who were part of the class to whom she had spoken earlier, had instigated a fight with another female student that very minute. The teacher was aghast. Hadn’t she just spoken to these students about their deportment and their lack of discipline? Was it simply a matter of her 35-minute sermon going in one ear and coming out the next? Had she lost precious teaching time for nothing?

The teacher went outside and proceeded to call the two girls who proceeded to delay in walking toward her. This got the teacher annoyed because she began to think about her own biological children who needed to be picked up from school a whole 60-something kilometres away while she had to be there dealing with that nonsense. She began to shout with authority at the girls about the mere stupidity of their actions and insisted that they go to the office.

Concurrently, one of the girls had a boyfriend who was in another class who decided that he would jump into the fray to save his girlfriend from the teacher who was admonishing her. Upon realizing that the boyfriend was addressing her, the teacher turned to the young boy and spoke to him directly, indicating that no one had called him and he should excuse himself. The boyfriend muttered. The teacher asked for clarity and indicated that if he had something to say he should come to her directly. The young boy bounced up, pointed a finger in the teacher’s face and said she should mind her business. Unrelenting in her purpose, the teacher told him that he had no authority to point at her to which he replied “Hush your cunt”. The teacher replied that she didn’t know that he was aware of any body parts belonging to her and then turned to the girlfriend and said, “You have great taste in men.”

In the office, while writing up the notices to see parents for the two young girls, the teacher’s annoyance switched to amusement.  In all of her years working at the school, never had she been so disrespected but she felt as though if it had to happen, it should have been someone a bit more worthy. She jumped in her car and went on her merry way, eager to give her husband the joke about these students’ obvious loss of mental capacity, ruminating on her strategy for the following day and boy would it be a good one.

THE END

EPILOGUE

The mother picked up her own children from school and after her usual pleasantries, realized that something was wrong with her son. He was unusually quiet. He then randomly asks (or maybe not so randomly) when was the next occasion for Confession at their church. This made the mother anxious. At home she realized that he was shadowing her and kept asking for hugs. She didn’t ask him anything but merely waited. Eventually he said he had something to tell her and after almost five minutes of fidgety eyes and playing with his fingers, he said that he knew she was going to get mad but he proceeded to outline what happened. Apparently he was part of  a WhatsApp group with boys commenting using very strong obscene language. A parent found out and the boys got in trouble at school with their teacher. He looked at his mother and said that he was sorry and he knew it was “out of his character” and that he got “caught up”. The mother sighed and said she was glad that he told her and she spoke to him about being responsible on social media and not bowing to peer pressure. She imagined that it would be the first of many like conversations but boy was she proud that he found it enough on his conscience to recognize his missteps and to come clean. She trained her son to be sensible enough (not perfect but sensible!) to identify a basic right from a wrong approach and wondered why other parents couldn’t do the same.

Bless up

TMIDM

In loco…

are you my mother

NOPE.

On this Universal Children’s Day 2014, I told three of my students that they were behaving like realllll jackasses and I put real stress on the ‘jackass’ as much as my Trini tongue could muster so that it sounded as caustic as I felt. I was also very loud, one of the usual tones used when I have to ‘dispense justice’. You know like long time when you used to see the F-word written in public transport but spelt with an ‘O’ instead of the ‘U’? That kinda enraged tone.

I recognise that children have rights. I recognise all 37 of those rights including the right to health, education, a good family and standard of living, play and protection from abuse. I recognise that without these rights children are doomed. What I don’t recognise or rather what I don’t ‘see’ with the human beings under the age of 18 that I encounter on a daily basis, is an acknowledgement and appreciation of these rights.

I don’t normally descend into the quasi-obscene but sometimes the shock value is absolutely necessary. I told them they were behaving like jackasses because a teacher was in class and they decided to pelt each other with paper, one of which struck the teacher on the forehead. What made it worse is that this is my form class, what made it even worse is that I am also the acting Dean, and the icing on this particular dessert is that these children know me and know the kinda shit I don’t stand for so why raise the beast with this horseplay nonsense especially if you don’t do it in when I am teaching?

You know there’s a saying that as a teacher you are in loco parentis which means you take the place of the parents with those under your charge. To be honest it’s not only a saying, it’s also a legal requirement. So sometimes I feel that if I am in loco of your parentis (and as a Spanish teacher this term is especially thrilling), I should act that way. SO! if your parentis feel like it is ok to play de ass in school, me, as your parentis (in loco) will greatly beg to differ and I will open my mouth to indicate such. So if my children whose rights I should respect, coming to school with no pen but combing hair and brushing shoes in class, I feel I should say what I need to say as I am in loco parentis. If my children, whose rights I should respect, are leaving their free textbooks home and writing all subjects in one notebook so their bags will be light, I feel I should say what I need to say to point out the error of their ways. If my children whose rights I should respect, do no homework and submit no assignments, yet somehow end up in bacchanal and fights, I feel I should do what I need to do to steer them in the right direction because clearly school is the wrong direction? Clearly you doh wanna be here? And this does not even begin to touch the surface of gambling, sex acts and narcotics on the school compound in other schools in this country. If I’m lying God strike me down. Thankfully it hasn’t reached there in my neck of the bush.

Now don’t get me wrong eh. Teaching is a vocation i.e. not something to be trifled with. This is why I could allow my emotion to shine forth in the way I feel will be effective. This is why I have to keep impressing upon these human beings under 18 that school is the only way out of the poverty that they are all desperately seeking to escape. But it only works if you put the work in. If I didn’t care, I would simply teach my subject for my particular period and the effort stops there. However, this feeling lasts up to the very point where I realize that my sanity is being endangered, in which case I draw the line and remember it’s only two humans that have passed through my vagina and I need to keep my atoms together for them and that third one that I share a bed with. At this point I stop being the inspirational ‘Lean on Me’ Morgan Freeman and become this guy:

Bless up

TMIDM