Where did the last couple of weeks of August go? Who stole them?
Term officially started last week, on Wednesday, but I only went into one school on the Friday as the previous days were staff training days.
So my term started this week. Sort of; the first two Monday schools didn't want me to start straight away, so I had a gentle first day. Just as well.
And just as well that we spent the last Friday of the holidays checking out the route to some of new schools I will be working in, 20 miles away, as the road I would have chosen is closed until the middle of October, and the diversions go all around the place. I would have been very late indeed had I not known about this in advance.
So; here's a complete week of blogging in one go.
Monday; turn up at a nearby school in the afternoon and teach djembe to 25 year 3 children (where is my support staff? Apparently they are not going to provide anyone! That's not in the contract!). Slight delay as I fail to remember the magic number to get into the cupboard where the djembes are stored, but otherwise all went well.
Tuesday: leave at 7:25 travel 20 miles eastwards along roads which are new to me, all solid with rush hour traffic, and eventually arrive at 8:30 - in good time for an 8:45 start. However, the school starts at 8:30 so I arrived at time of maximum chaos, especially as the next-door secondary school also starts at 8:30. Discover that I am teaching in cramped classrooms, not the hall as I had hoped (no music-and-movement, then!). And the teacher uses a left-handed mouse with her keyboard...
Next week I shall be leaving at 7am. At least the traffic might be easier. Especially the bit where I try and join the motorway!
Hack through the back roads to see if there is a better route past the diversions. If there is a better way, this isn't it. The back roads are a total nightmare of blind junctions, narrow pot-holed lanes and other horrors. After one "incident" along the way I'm really glad to find a cafe for a cup of tea and a sit-down.
Arrive at the next school back home to teach three back-to-back classes of ukulele; but, no ukes. They haven't been delivered yet. Um. Re-plan the lesson to use chime bars. Slightly hampered by the fact that my computer login for the school has mysteriously stopped working, and the interactive whiteboard is no longer interactive.
Wednesday: leave at 8:15 to travel 15 miles west to teach piano and keyboard. Leave slightly later than I hoped, sprint 20 miles west to teach samba. Two tractors en route means I arrive with only minutes to spare. But no-one knows who I am meant to be teaching! I was expecting the young children, who I haven't taught before, but end up with a class of year 5 and 6 children who have covered all the material in my plans already. I quickly re-plan the lesson as we go along.
Wobble out of the school to go back home for another afternoon of back-to-back ukulele teaching. Hurray! They have been delivered - well, enough for one-between-two anyway. Boo! they are all still in their packaging. Spend the lunch break unpacking, tuning and re-tuning 21 ukuleles. The strings keep stretching, so they go out of tune within seconds. Now for the computer - oh, it has disappeared entirely. That solves the computer login issue anyway.
Thursday: Bliss - I'm at the school I was in last Friday, where I have taught class music for about 8 years. Everything goes like clockwork. My lesson plans work, the children are well-behaved and interested. Everything works beautifully. I spy the head-teacher watching from the corridor, apparently mesmerized by the video clip (Beethoven's fifth symphony presented as a graphic score -worth a look)
Friday: That's today. I won't start until the lunchtime recorder club (note to self; get music photocopied in time). The afternoon has been changed from what I usually do - three lessons of recorders and one of samba - to three back-to-back samba lessons. There won;'t be enough instruments for each class, so they will have to share. half the instruments means half the noise, which seems like a Good Thing at the moment. I will hopefully be able to to the lesson that I did on Wednesday...
The first week of term is always a bit shambolic, but this year it has been off the scale for glitches and hiccups and alarums. I'll be glad when it all settles down. I'm teaching around 500 children (that's a lot of names to learn!) in eight schools (I go to one school on three different afternoons) and travelling roughly 100 miles on high roads, back lanes and motorways each week.
Right. Things to do. Collect my samba kit, shop for birthday cake, bank a couple of cheques... all before midday. Gotta go.