Sunday, 1 January 2012

Storytelling Sunday (and a little Sneak)

***Throughout this post, there are a couple of sneak peaks at some of the projects for my brand new scrapbooking class Just One Sketch.  More info at the end of the post!***

One of my resolutions for 2011 was to write down more of the little stories at school.  I LOVE being a teacher.  It makes me laugh every day.  Even on the rubbish days.  And I like to jot down those little conversations that I have with the students because I like to look back and remember them.  And laugh again.  I'm going to continue with this resolution in 2012, partly because it's been fun and partly because I cherish secret ambitions of publishing a memoir of school stories one day.  Gervase Phinn eat your heart out.

So today's stories for Sian's Storytelling Sunday have nothing really in common, except that they all contain fruit at some point.  And apparently we should all strive to eat lots of fruit because it's good for us.  So here goes.  Concerning Fruit:

Apples and Bananas for the 6th Form

I sauntered over to two of my sixth formers doing that thing where they pretend to concentrate but were actually carrying on a muttered conversation over their books.  They were feigning rather well - they'd got the books at the right page, the right way up, and one had even managed to apply pen to paper.  But I am not deterred by such things.  I intended to admonish them.  Assume stern face. (I am not very good at stern face)

"So!  What are we talking about over here?"

They looked at each other.

"Proverbs, miss"

This was a sufficiently unusual response so I abandoned my attempts at stern face.

"Any in particular?"

"Not really"

"Y'know what always gets me about proverbs? They're so contradictory.  Like many hands make light work, but too many cooks spoil the broth.  How are supposed to gauge the appropriate number of kitchen staff?  And then there's carpe diem, seize the day, which contradicts where angels fear to tread, fools rush in"

"And look before you leap, miss"


I perched on the table, in full, hand-waving-around flow.  Other students shunned their pens, their educations, their futures, and joined in with the chat.  I surveyed my audience.

"In fact, I propose a new proverb.  You must all start saying it immediately at parties so it catches on,  It goes like this:  For every proverb, there is an equal and opposite proverb."

They thought about this.


"Don't even think about telling me that no one says proverbs at parties.  You're obviously just going to the wrong kind of parties."

He grinned.  "I'm really not miss."

"Then what's the problem?"

"Your proverb would also have an opposite.  So no proverbs would have an opposite".

"That's, like, a paradox, innit miss?"

"Ah!  A paradox, a paradox, a most ingenious paradox!" Silence.  Bemused silence. I peered at them. "Doesn't anyone know the song?"


"From Pirates?"

They looked blank.

"Of the Caribbean miss?"

I scowled at him.  "Heck, no!  How can you not know?  You're definitely all going to the wrong kinds of parties.  Gilbert and Sullivan!  They write operettas?"  Not a spark of recognition among them. "They wrote an operetta about Pirates called Pirates of Penzance when this chap was born on 29th February so when he thinks he's 21 and he can free himself from a life of piracy he's actually only 4 or something so he can't and then there's a song about how amusing the whole thing is....  Actually, ironically, it's not all that paradoxical.  But my proverb is.  So stick that in your pipes and..... well, don't smoke it because that would be bad for your health and I can't possibly condone smoking but if you can find a non-carcinogenic, non-addictive, non-health-risk substitute for tobacco and you take up pipe smoking and you're careful with matches, then you could put that in your pipe and smoke it."

I concluded, triumphantly.  I seemed to have derrailed some of my audience during my soliloquy (I am a loss to the stage, I tell you), but I think the point was sufficiently well made.

Or I thought it was.

"What is she talking about?"  This was delivered in less than an undertone by one of the original two malefactors to his friend.

"She doesn't want us to smoke"  I nodded sagely.  "She was going to say put that in your pipe and smoke it".


A sudden inspiration struck me. "How'd you like them apples?"


"That's a better phrase than the smoking one.  Apples are healthy.  It says so in the proverb: An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

"It's bananas now miss"

I was somewhat taken aback.  "What?  Since when?"

"Like, a year ago, they changed it to bananas 'cause apples don't really have many health benefits or something."

"So we'll all get lots of potassium, but no proverb?  This is silly gents.  I think it's time we abandoned proverbs to the heathens in the English department.  Or humanities.  Lets get back to maths."


Lemons for the Year 10s

I flourished my pen.  I do a rather good pen flourish.  Or at least I thought I did until one of my precocious Year 7s told me that he'd kept a tally of how many times I'd twirled my pen in the air and dropped it.  I regret teaching them how to tally.  But I pulled off this pen flourish as we tottered to the end of the worked example.  Quadratics can be a bit of a challenge, but my Year 10s had manned up to a man, and seemed to be on board.

"Easy peasy lemon...juice"  I announced, pleased with their progress.

"Lemon juice?"

I directed a glare towards the miscreant.

"There's no need to repeat it in that mocking tone young man.  Lemon juice is wonderful in a sponge cake.  Y'know, like a Victoria sponge but with lemon curd instead of jam and a touch of lemon in the buttercream and maybe a couple of strands of lemon zest on was you that interrupted wasn't it?"

"Yes, miss"

"No, it was me" The student next to him cheerfully volunteered.

"Was it?  And you let me lecture about cake to the wrong person?"

"No actually, it was him, not me."  

Exasperated: "Then why did you lie and say it was you?  This isn't Spartacus you know."


"Put you hand up if you've heard of Spartacus"

A smattering of reluctant hands were raised.  I sighed.

"Right.  In the film there are all these Romans, or something - actually I haven't seen it all the way through so they might be Greeks or anyone really, but there's all these chaps from a couple of thousand years ago and one of them is called Spartacus and he's about to be arrested by these other guys, but when they ask which one is Spartacus, all the men stand up one by one and say "I'm Spartacus" so that they don't know who to arrest.  And then I think they all die.  Not that cheerful really when you come to think about it."

I casually flicked my pen in the air, dropped it and dived under my desk after it.

"Where was I?"

"Lemon juice, miss"

"Right, thank you.  So this is easy peasy lemon Spartacus.  This shall be our new motto for when we work hard to overcome a problem in mathematics.  Whenever you see a quadratic equation you can think to yourself "Aha!  Easy Peasy Lemon Spartacus" and charge it with your ferocious maths and quick wits.  We should all have a bit more Spartacus in our souls."

"I thought you said they all died, miss?"

"It is highly statistically unlikely that you will die answering a maths problem in my lesson.  So let's get on with some work."

The students bent over their books.  Except for one, eyeing the large projector mounted on the ceiling directly above his head with some suspicion.  I raised my eyebrows at him.

"I never thought I die here before, miss".


Kisses xxx

P.S. My new scrapbooking class Just One Sketch opens today as the class blog goes live with an introductory task.  It's not too late to join the fun!  Registration stays open permanently and we don't officially begin until Sunday 15th January.  Just One Sketch is a design class based around using a sketch, it costs only £5 and all the proceeds go to support my fundraising for GirlGuiding UK!  So why not start with year with a scrappy treat to yourself - sign up and join in!  More information can be found here.

P.P.S. More wonderful stories can be found on Sian's blog From High in the Sky.  Many thanks to Sian for starting such a lovely tradition and keeping it going in 2012 :D

P.P.P.S. Easy peasy lemon Spartacus caught on, believe it or not.  My proverb did not.  And I didn't even ask them to say easy peasy lemon Spartacus at parties.


  1. What fantastic stories! So glad you shared them, and I wish my children had you as a teacher.

  2. Love your stories! I think your idea to write these out is fantastic!

  3. I wish I had had the foresight to write all the wonderful conversations I had in classrooms. Thanks for sharing your stories, I am sure you keep your students on their toes. Looking forward to Just One Sketch :)

  4. Ha ha, easy peasy lemon spartacus :)

    Keep 'em coming Miss!

    Happy New Year to you, I hope you have a lovely successful one.

  5. Oh those sneak peeks look great! Funny stories, and funny that they involve fruit as that is one my few resolutions for 2012 - to eat more fruit. Happy New Year to you and I'm really looking forward to your class. :-)

  6. Easy peasy lemon........... I love it and will probably find myself using it and then having to direct people here to find out why!

  7. Thank you so much for the giggles made a good start to the day.

  8. Love both stories but the unfortunate student sat beneath the projector had me in fits of giggles :)

  9. Easily better than Gervaise Phinn. Easily. And you must be half way there already - you'll have your book by the end of the year :)

    Happy New Year Miss Smith!

  10. Lovely stories - I look forward to the book!

  11. Love reading your stories, can I pre order a book now? ;-)

  12. You must make these boys love coming to Maths classes...great stories as always!
    Alison xx

  13. Fantastic of you to remember these classroom stories. I felt like I was a fly on the wall listening in. You have such wonderful conversations with your students! Look forward to more as the year progresses.
    Happy New Year!

  14. Thanks for sharing your school stories! You are well on your way with your memoir!

  15. I'm a secretary in a large secondary school, and when I read your teacher stories they always make me laugh as I can so visualise the situations you describe as it makes me think about a particular teacher at our school. The kids all love him and I'm sure your students feel the same about you!

  16. My dd is currentlly working through A2 Maths - looking forward to further maths next year. I'm going to tell her I am NOT the only teacher who diverts off into cake baking mid explanation... although I also do not teach Maths past GCSE. I'm off with the history and proverbs departments instead :lol:

  17. Hilarious - looking forward to the book!

  18. I think I'd like to be in your class!

  19. LOL - it is always so much fun reading your stories from the classroom. Wish we'd had teachers like you when we were in school. Happy New Year.

  20. Grteat stories. I've always said I should write down what my students say. And you've inspired me. so I will. Have I just made ANOTHER new year's resolution? Bum. I don't do resolutions!

  21. I always love reading stories from your classroom! And I'll bet there are many more to tell.

    Best wishes for a fantastic 2012!!!

  22. oh my Miss Smith I am still smiling and getting strange looks from the family!!! lol! Such fantastic stories!!!

  23. I'm quite sure you'll outsell Gervaise what's his name one day!!!!

  24. I wish I'd been in your class as a pupil! Glorious - education at its best!

  25. Your stories are fantastic! Although I'm most impressed with the student who realized your proverb was a paradox! Thanks for joining story telling!

  26. Which reminds me... Bloggers' Weekend No.2, in March (perhaps), somewhere in Middle England....

    You must be the best teacher in the school - I would have loved to have a teacher like Miss Smith! The fruit stories are great - thank you for sharing them and keep up the note-taking; one day you will write that book, and it'll be Fab!

  27. Hilarious! How wonderful to have such great material for your stories.

  28. Such funny stories! It must be a laugh a minute in your Maths classes. Happy New Year! :)

  29. I found your blog! I *rule* at googling! Also, Miss Smith is so not the best teacher in the school, because the school also has me. She's not even the best *maths* teacher in the school...


  30. I have finally scraplifted your New Years layout -

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  31. Fab stories! I wish we had had funny and interesting conversations with teachers at school. They were all very stern and reluctant to communicate when I was at school! :)

  32. Wonderful stories! My husband would enjoy this as he teaches math at a local university! Thanks God we have a mathematician in the family to help our kids with math because I am what one would call "math challenged." I tell stories for our local schools though and I've found some wonderful math stories for the kids. Thanks for sharing!