The lost pencil

In my class is a boy, let’s name him Sam. Sam for Samkelo. So Sam is one of those learners who loses every thing he possesses at least once a day. On this one particular day, Sam seemed to excel at it. While other learners were engaged in a Maths activity, I heard a giggle and as teachers do, my eyes and ears tuned in to what was spoiling that blissful silence. Sam’s neighbour to his right blurted out

“Miss Sam doesn’t have a pencil!” . Now if you are a teacher, these words seem to always touch a nerve because that very morning I had ensured that every individual was in possession of a lead pencil. I could feel my teacher vein, ticking(if you don’t have one or know not its location, you are not a teacher). I then calmly question Sam as to the whereabouts of his pencil. At this point, every eye was on Sam and no writing was taking place. I heard snuffled giggles. Are you wondering why? Do you remember that I said he loses EVERYTHING!

“Miss I put it here”. He pokes his desk. An uproar of laughter followed.

“Miss he put it on his desk before break” adds the neighbour. More laughter. Having done this more times than I could remember, I decided to question no more and got him a new pencil. Now from there, the story took a very strange route.

Giggle-giggle. I looked up, wondering what happened now.

“Miss he lost his pencil again.” Giggle-giggle. Giggles neighbour.

I was confused as to be mad or just laugh at the absurdity of the situation. He couldn’t have misplaced a pencil in barely two minutes, could he? Sam was not amused and seemed genuinely concerned about his missing pencil. That was where I decided an adult was needed and unfortunately I was the only one in the midst of those giggling souls. I commenced the hunt for the lost pencil. Chair bag- nothing, pencil case- nada, under desk- dololo, and behind and under him- no pencil in sight.

I fear to mention that I became concerned as of that point. How could a pencil disappear into thin air? At this point not a soul was partaking in the Maths task. In the African culture we believe in Tikoloshe(dwarf-like water sprite). Could this learner have them? I continued to look, twice, three times. You know when you whisper to yourself and curse? You begin to question your own sanity as well. Did I really give him the pencil?

Of cause I did! How ridiculous was I! The question remained. What had happened to the pencil?

“Miss Noxy says she will write a story about the lost pencil”. Giggle

What a brilliant idea! We had a story writing activity that same day and what better story could we write but the one that confused us all.

THE LOST PENCIL was born

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The above story was authored by Noxy herself and learners will surprise you with creativity and captivating stories. None wrote about my suspicions of tikiloshe‘s, and thank goodness for that as I have sensitive learners who scare pretty easily.

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The stories ranged from the pencil that had wings and flew away to join other flying pencils to a pencil lost in the forest who met up with another pencil and met a giant and they all banded together to throw the giant into a river to get rid of him.

 

The above pages are from a few of the books(English is their second language, so excuse misspellings and grammar) I just love kids and their individuality if given room to be free.

Noxy will definitely be an author and she will mention how I taught her to write and I was her favourite teacher(hahaha).

 

The pencil is still missing as I write.

Time is relative

I have been procrastinating about writing this post for a number of days and reasons. The first and most important is, I have been longing and praying for good news with regard to my learner in hospital. She still lays in bed, losing weight and muscle because of lack of movement.

Our Departmental Head, Deputy Principal and Principal visited her last week and found the situation had worsened as compared to when I last visited. During the holidays, they discovered that the clot on her  heel had become septic and had operated and took a skin graft from her thigh to repair it.

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She still smiles, I hear. Granny constantly on her side. Grandfather has lost hope for the year and is doubtful that she will return. With countless days absent and no assessments submitted, it would mean she has failed the year. I couldn’t have that for a learner who excels in class and proposed an idea to my DH.

The second reason for writing a blog 3 weeks into the term is I was hoping to write about my idea being accepted. I proposed that I could go to Edendale hospital every Wednesday and teach my learner so that she was caught up and she would also be assessed. My DH loved the idea and proposed that she would also do the same on Friday. We were radiating excitement that this learner would continue with school. My DH proceeded to relay the proposal to our principal, who reacted like any manager would, PRACTICALLY. Sighhh!

She informed us that the Departmental system of Data capturing(SASAMS) would not allow for those marks to be entered as she would appear absent on every single day. Dannit! I didn’t care about this practicality and I still firmly believe any system can be overridden. Especially for a child who does not deserve to repeat a grade. She informed us that she would query from people who knew the system better and would have an answer soon. Its been three weeks…

Time is relative. To the Principal, not much time has passed since she said she would get back to us. To me, six sessions will pass as of tomorrow, where my learner could have benefited. To my learner,( I really think I should give her a name now) it surely feels like a year has gone by with her laying in bed helpless.

Soon the year will end and I will certainly be upset with myself if nothing changes with this situation. I miss her laughter so much… She has one of those laughter’s that make everyone else join in. Usually at the most inappropriate times. Hahaha

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As I await tomorrow

Tomorrow we start the third term with my kids. I’ve missed them on moments that I thought about them(my holidays were busy). I did utter prayers of protection and that they all return safely.  I have first hand knowledge of a student who does not return to school.

The year before last I lost one of my students. Him and his mom didn’t wake up on a Sunday morning and the police informed us that it was due to gas inhalation. I vividly recall my Departmental Head(DH) question, if he was in my class and then relaying the story as she thought it had happened. The manner in which she described it left me feeling cold and filled with tears. I could not gather courage required to let my learners know. I remember standing outside to take in much needed breath.  My DH volunteered to tell them the dreaded news.

My 32 learners sat quietly on the carpet as if they could feel the heaviness of the news they were about to hear. I stood far, trying to cry away all the tears before they turned to look at me. She started the story as she understood it to have happened and I listened and watched little eyes bulging out of sockets, I realised my error and it was too late. No one could have informed “my kids” better than me. She was too graphic for those little ears and brains. As she concluded, most had questions, some had tears in their eyes and some turned to see what I was doing/ feeling. By the time she concluded, my bucket of tears had been put on pause as I realised that we would not be learning today.

She answered a few questions and left. I then sat down with my learners and asked them if they had any more questions. Hands shot up and the questions were not of death but of the late learner. Each time his name was called, one or two turned to look back at his seat. The questions were also very personal.

Would he see my father in heaven? Would we never ever see him? The more questions I answered, the more they thought of. Before we ended off with prayer for him, one of my girls put up her hand and said “At least he will be with his mother, she will take care of him”. I cannot write about his funeral as it still brings tears to my eyes. I missed that boy even though he had the worst habit of fluctuating in public and boy did it stink. I recall how hard that week was as I had to pack his belongings and I had to hand them to family. I cried each time I went past his chair. One day I remembered that through all the meetings we had had, there was no mention of his best friend who was in another class. I called him and I asked how he was. He said he was fine as all kids answer and I told him that if he ever wanted to talk about his friend, I was there to listen. He didn’t say a word but just wept. I held onto him as he cried, probably for the first time openly. This little chap and I have been close since that incident. We shared missing my learner and him, his best friend.

So I do whisper prayers of protection over my learners as I would not like to attend another funeral.

Early last term, I had a few scares. One of my boys was involved in a car crash that left him with a hurt back but all else seemed perfect. Then one of my girls was knocked by a passing car as she jumped out of her taxi just outside her home. She sustained serious leg injuries and was off school for over two months. When I went to visit her, I was glad to see the smile I knew even though the leg was joined with wires and her heel was gathering a clot and she had to have bandages changed daily.

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I could not imagine the pain she was going through. She is an orphan as well but her grandparents ensure she wants for nothing and granny was right by her side throughout her hospital stay. If you know public hospitals in South Africa, you would know the sacrifices that this old lady had to make to be there for her granddaughter. She had to sleep on a chair every night. Unconditional love like I have never witnessed it.

My decisions for starting this blog are due to stories like this. Stories that leave me emotionally fatigued.  One day, I decided to call her during class so she can talk to her friends. She asked to speak to one particular learner, her closest friend and she had a few questions for her. The conversation went as follows.

“What are you doing?”

“Nothing” friend responds

“Are you doing art? If you are, keep my papers!” The whole class erupted in laughter. We love art in our class you see. We look forward to it every Friday. I do hope she will be back tomorrow and I can hand her any art that we had done.

As I prepare for tomorrow, I whisper another prayer. This time for a great term filled with bright beautiful art and super fun filled memories.

I do often love my job you see.

 

 

Learners brutal honesty

As I have previously mentioned, I teach Grade 2’s and my class has thirty one intelligent individuals. I often end up with an odd numbered class and that can cause me to have endless headaches as the only odd number I can tolerate is 5 and more seriously I would often be obligated to partner up with one of the learners for an activity. You may be thinking, she is a lazy bugger this one. Nope! If you had ever taught in the Foundation Phase you would know that you need eyes in the back and sides of your head. So it wasn’t because of laziness but necessity to want a class of even numbers.

I have always marveled at the honesty of these youngsters. Most occurrences are shockers before you can giggle about them and one comes to mind where I had just cut my blue hair during the holidays. When schools opened, it had light blonde highlights. Did I mention that had no idea how much they loved my hair? Well I was made aware of it when one of them came to me shaking his head “hmm hmm hmm Miss now you are ugly! Hhaiy Miss why did you cut your hair? Now you are ugly.”

I could not recall ever being ugly in anyone’s eyes and I immediately got angry at the nerve of this youngster. How dare he speak to me like that. Who did he think he was? It was hard to swallow the truth of his statement. I certainly was “ugly” in his eyes but I easily forgave him because I knew it was more for a lack of vocabulary than him meaning I was ugly. I had to call him aside and explain to him the affect of his words and how he may not like my new hairstyle but he could not use such words to another person.

 

Recently I read a note written by one of my struggling students whose  comments read similarly: please try again, try harder and can do better . 20170623_085742 She decided, she had had enough of my comments and wrote this at the bottom of her test book.

 

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No I dowt wan t to Try aagain now (No. I don’t want to try again now).

She was tired of my comments and definitely tired of trying. Hahahahaha

 

Becoming a teacher

Seventeen years ago I was in matric(Grade 12) and we had to spend a week at a job that we envisioned ourselves doing. I visited my old primary school and spent the week with my former teacher whom we all feared( we called her the drill sergeant)) five years prior. She mentored and guided me in a career I had debated embarking on and soon after that, life went back to normal and I forgot about teaching.

I considered various careers as I fell in love with flying and applied to SAA who rejected me because of my eyesight. I have always had a passion for writing and I had written various short stories and poems. My English teacher had constantly been encouraging me to choose a path with writing. I applied to become a journalist. I was accepted and finances prevented me from becoming a journalist.

Years later, I met my former primary school teacher who offered me a job as an assistant teacher for Grade R. Fear gripped me as I began my first day of observation. The teaching bug bit me and bit me hard. One day the learners were being taught SENSES and the questioned posed to them was, what was on their tongues. One boy enthusiastically shouted “BUMPEES!”. There was not a day that passed without confirming to me that I was born for this.

After a year, I had my own class and I registered to become a qualified teacher and have never looked back since.

This year I decided to create a blog about my class. This decision was brought about by various events that transpired. Last year, I had one of the most challenging classes of my entire career. Sixty percent of those students were academically challenged and behavior problems cropped up everyday. I have never been so happy to say farewell to learners in December.

This year appeared to be like a flip of the coin. Angels seem to dominate my classroom. My angels come with different challenges however. We are six months into the academic year and one was involved in a taxi accident, one has had to have an operation and recently one was knocked by a car. She has spent the better part of the term in a hospital. One has repeated grade two and we have formed a tight relationship that has aided in her expressing herself to me.

I love teaching and I love art and crafts. This blog is about me as a teacher and the children I teach and love. Just in case you missed it, I teach Grade two’s and I often teach the curriculum.  IMG-20170710-WA0000