Today was a fantastic first day back for me. After the usual literacy and numeracy lessons this morning, I had a great afternoon to look forward to: a workshop with Professor Simon from the Blunderbus theatre company, followed by a PE lesson taught by students from Hartpury College. Great lessons to look forward to, but without actually teaching them! With some classes I’ve taught in the past, this afternoon could have been a source of sheer dread, but I had every confidence in my children that all would go well this afternoon. It did. We pranced around as horses pulling a Roman chariot, visited the Roman gods and built a time machine, then trekked off onto the playground into the bitter, cold wind for some running around and netball. The whole class had a whale of a time. All of them. Even the young lady who hates drama and PE with a passion. This could have been her worst nightmare, but even she made it through the afternoon smiling. I was amazed when I thought back over the afternoon and realised that she had volunteered her services in the drama workshop and stood at the front of the class dressed as Poseidon. A huge breakthrough. She put her hand up to answer questions all afternoon, crept down the corridor with everyone else, pretended to be a cog in the time machine and rode an imaginary mini donkey around the hall. This young lady has the regular disadvantage (or huge advantage, in her eyes) of missing PE most weeks as she goes to an intervention group and so has got out of the habit of taking part. PE or drama lessons therefore seem to come as a bit of a shock to her. Not today, it seems. The PE lesson was just as successful. After a few tears and a fairly harsh word or two from me, she got into her stride and joined in. She again volunteered to take part, throwing the ball to others as they ran past and offered to be “it” in a chasing game. What is more, she did all of this with a huge smile on her face.
Mum was suitably impressed when I told her at the end of the day, and so was I. So why today? Why join in? The adults leading the session were engaging (particularly Professor Simon!), but to say that was the reason would imply my lessons were dull – I’m not prepared to accept that! The other children were enthusiastic, but again, to say that was the reason would cast further aspersions over my lessons. The children are generally enthusiastic in my lessons too. I can only assume it was the sheer novelty value of having other teachers and a desire to impress them. While the drama workshop was (sadly) a one-off today, the Hartpury students are with me for several weeks. I shall do my utmost to try and change the timetable around to enable my reluctant young lady to join us every week to see how she responds. I hope that the enthusiasm of Professor Simon, Alex and Georgia (my Hartpury friends) have shown this lovely girl what I have so far failed to do: that drama and PE can be fun, and that actually, she’s pretty good at them. I’m all for getting outside agencies to come into school to provide new and enriching experiences for all, but if they can even provide a boost of confidence for those who need it, then the experiences are all the more worthwhile.