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Mar. 2nd, 2010

04:37 pm - In which I don my grammar nazi hat

One of the sixth form English students asks if I will read his work through. They've been reading the First World War poets and writing prose inspired by their work.
He hands me a printed copy to read and at once I point out the need for paragraph breaks to make a huge slab of text readable.

"Oooh, good point Miss!"

The writing is...strong and....graphic, to put it mildly and I am rather repelled, but that's boys for you, it's not to my taste, but as I tell him, that doesn't mean it's no good. One of his characters is called The Captain. Or sometimes the captain, or Captain. I suggest consistency and talk him through 'find and replace' in Word to sort this out.

Now I am warming to my theme. I ask our budding author if he minds my being picky and point out his incorrect use of apostophes and a couple of odd and abrupt changes of tense. He thanks me and makes the corrections until finally I can find no further fault.

"Thanks SO much, Miss" he says, happily. "Correct grammar and spelling could easily take me up a whole grade!"

Hang on a minute.....Well, I have to doff my grammar nazi cap to him for ingenuity here, do I not?

Jan. 19th, 2010

05:08 pm - What I want to be when I grow up

The Year 11 kids are all having Connexions [careers guidance] interviews. The library has a sort of careers info alcove and we screen the area off for the nice lady to use.

Our teacher in charge of all things careers recently sent me a very lacklustre looking list of websites and resources. I had some spare time so I turned this into a very smart colourful little number with screenshots and live links. Well, I was pleased with it....

There is a new Connexions lady, really nice and friendly. I offered her coffee and she'd come all prepared with her own mug and jar of instant. What a star. She was impressed with my website guide too, and made a couple more suggestions to add to it.

We compared notes on the kids' career aspriations. In my experience they are either totally clueless about their prospects and have no ambitions at all, or tend to be very unrealistic, along the lines of "I want to be on TV, or play for Manchester United".

The Connexions lady grins at me and reports a recent interview.

Kid: I wouldn't mind being a doctor.
Her: [looking at kid's very average GCSE predicted grades, and trying to be tactful] Well, medicine is very hard to get into you know. You'll need excellent grades and to do sciences at A-level. Do you think you'll do that?
Kid: Nah, not really.
Her: Well, we can look at related careers, if you like.
Kid: I wouldn't mind being a gynaecologist....

Jan. 13th, 2010

09:26 am - Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow....

This snowy stuff is getting very tedious. We've had a few days off but when we're open it is miserable: it's cold and wet, the paths are treacherous and indoors the floors are wet and slippy too.

The kids are allowed to wear warmer clothing with their uniform together with welly boots. Mostly they are behaving but today there was a kid with a cut head from a snowball full of ice and there has been an eye hurt by a snowball full of grit and salt from the paths.

Earlier I watched two guys clearing the path across the courtyard outside my window. One had a proper snow-shovel thing and was methodically working back and forth, chucking the snow onto the lawn.
The other guy had a wheelbarrow full of salt/grit. He parked it well up the snowy path, filled his shovel, trudged over the snow so it got a good treading down and then chucked the grit at the legs of the snow-clearing guy. Rinse and repeat. Until I wanted to scream.
Then site services head boss guy appeared, there was much gesticulating and waving and pointing. Wheelbarrow man then trundled round behind shovel guy and proceeded to chuck grit onto the cleared sections of path. Phew! Sanity just about saved....

Dec. 2nd, 2009

04:05 pm - Going with Jack to Mongolia

This morning one of my least favourite characters was put at a table in a quiet corner to do a maths test. A steady flow of TAs came and went, checking up on him and his progress.

After he'd gone it became obvious that the test had bored him, or gone straight over his head, and that he'd whiled away his time with hacking into the top of one of our rather nice light wood tables with the point of his compasses. And then painstakingly inking in his efforts with a felt-tip pen.

How could we be sure we'd got out culprit? He'd demonstrated his high IQ by carving and inking his own name 'woz 'ere' and today's date.

At break he came back, even more sullen and sulky than usual and armed with a bucket of assorted cleaning materials and some disposable plastic gloves. His cleaning was actually quite good, his apology somewhat less so.

We have a large illuminate globe in the library and most people find it hard to resist giving it a quick spin. At lunch time a little group of girls were totally engrossed with it. Intrigued, I hovered to listen in.

One was pawing rapidly at the surface of the planet to make it spin as fast as she could. The girls were taking turns to chant the name of the boy of their desires and then plonking their finger down to stop the globe.

"Oooooh! I'm going to Mongolia with Jack!" sighed Tiffany, in tones of utter satisfaction.

Nov. 26th, 2009

10:28 pm - In which I get both the heebies and the jeebies

This morning I glanced up at the clock, hoping it was nearly break time.

To my horror on the wall next to the clock sat a huge vast enormous spider. Eeeek.

The library was very quiet but Tom and Matt from the sixth form were round in the comfy chairs in the fiction area. Tom, luckily, was very brave and willing to climb up, armed only with a paper cup and a piece of card, and catch the monster. Matt joined me in a little light panic and disgust. I jiggled about doing a sort of heebie jeebie dance until it was safe to go back to my seat. I made Tom put the spider-defiled cup in the bin.

You can never be too careful when it comes to huge vast enormous spiders.

Nov. 11th, 2009

03:50 pm - Where does custard come from?

"Miss, where does custard come from?"

I smile, assuming this is a joke I'm being asked and hope that the answer/punchline isn't too rude for me to laugh at.
"I don't know, where does custard come from?"

This question turns out to be homework, not a corny joke.
"Do you think your teacher means 'what is custard made of' or 'where does custard originate'?"
The kids shrug, they don't know. And they don't know what 'originate' means, either.

"Well....proper custard is made out of eggs and sugar and milk or cream. Or you can make it out of custard powder. Or buy either sort ready made, can't you?"
I'm thinking out loud here...
"As for where it originally came from, I'm not sure. In French it's Creme anglais so maybe it is really British"

It's the middle of a very busy lunchtime and I have no ideas and no way of abandoning a hectic library to see if I can find the offending teacher.

So, anyone know? Where does custard come from?

Nov. 10th, 2009

04:11 pm - In which I fail to follow proceedures...

Earlier I made the mistake of remarking that it had been a long time since I'd last needed to call for a senior member of staff to deal with a difficult situation for me, but I guess this was tempting fate.

At lunchtime I heard an ominous thudding noise from the computer suite and scurried in there to investigate. A fat ugly kid called Connor was bouncing a tennis ball off the wall, in a style similar to that thing Steve McQueen does in 'The Great Escape'.

I ordered Connor out. He looked at me in wide-eyed disbelief.
"You can't send me out, just like that" he said, confidently.
"Oh, I can, and I am" I said, grimly.
"No, Miss" he continued "You haven't followed proceedure. You have to ask me not to do something, follow it up with a formal warning and then you can only send me out if I do it again"
"Connor, you have to be kidding. You do not bounce tennis balls off the walls in school computer suites, or libraries for that matter, out you go before I put you on report"

I am rapidly losing it, as is Connor who is going dangerously red in his porky fat face.
"You have no right. You didn't follow proceedures" he plonks himself down in the nearest chair and folds his arms.

I take a deep breath
"Connor, I am asking you to leave the library. Now. Are you refusing to obey a reasonable request from a member of staff?"
I can do 'proceedures' too, it seems.

"You have no right. You didn't follow proceedures. You have no right. You didn't follow proceedures. You have no right. You didn't follow proceedures. " chants Connor, infuriatingly.

I summon the Senior who is on lunchtime patrol, who removes Connor, who continues to yell at me even as he is being bundled out of the doors.

As a result I have to fill in an Incident Report Form which causes Connor to win a formal detention as well as a week ban from the library.

The application of our school's formal proceedures suits me fine, thanks.

Oct. 14th, 2009

10:46 pm - It's that mean synthetic woman

Some kid left a sheet of their book review in our printer:

"...she started to be a mean and viscose woman killing her husband..."

Oct. 6th, 2009

03:58 pm - Will the Internet fit on one memory stick?

I bump into Mr Head just outside his office.
"Ooh!" he says "Just the person! Do you guys hold the copies of the School Prospectus and Policy Documents in the library?"

I am really rather flattered to be recognised and spoken to by Mr Head. I am however, slighly embarrassed to have to remind him, as gently and as tactfully as I can, that one of our policies is not to waste paper on printed documents that might go out of date, but to keep them online and accessible via the school website/intranet.

"Could you show me quickly?" he asks, leads me into his office and offers me his super fancy revolving chair in front of his super new PC.
I wonder If Mr Head will remember his passwords and logins for our intranet, so for speed I open IE.
"Have you got the school website bookmarked?"
This baffles him, but I find it and show him how there is a nice button on our homepage called 'Documents' and how, when you mouse over it, a helpful little box pops up telling users 'Click here for the School Prospectus and Policy Documents'.

"Brilliant!" he says, happily. And then, less happily "Oh dear, will I be able to find it all again?"
Boldly I offer to set the school website as his home page so it appears as if by magic. He seems thrilled by this.

He does find a sentence in the Prospectus that isn't to his liking and triumphantly highlights it and attempts to delete it. I have to point out that he needs to be logged in with passwords to do this so we move swiftly on.... 

Finally he tells me how helpful I've been and that he thinks he will show the school website to visitors and prospective pupils and all sorts of people when he gives talks.
I suggest that he can get the IT techies to set him up with a laptop and a data projector to do just this, but this seems to worry him.

"Can't we just save it to my memory stick thingy?"

I have no idea if he means this home page, the entire school website or indeed the entire Internet.

Later Mrs Brent from the school office comes to find me.
"Mr Head needs you. He's complaining that 'his' Internet only shows the school website and he wants his Google-box back, please"

Oct. 5th, 2009

10:49 pm - Does this mean something? If so, what?

Mike Faraday from the Science department has been appointed our new Head of Sixth Form. He'll take over at half term when the current one finally retires.

I think it's nice to promote an internal candidate but Mike isn't very old or very experienced and is already looking flustered and stressed.
When the interviews for the job were held in the summer term we were very impressed by a candidate from a school in a neighbouring authority. He managed to escape from the official school tour and find himself in the library. He asked us some good questions and asked politely if he might speak to some of the sixth formers who were in with us at the time. He also popped out into the corridor when the bell went to see how the kids behaved between classes. Needless to say he didn't get the job.

I was in a meeting with Mike a couple of days ago, he's pleasant enough, and I did notice that he smells nice, something slightly sharp and citrusy.

The other night I dreamed I was kissing him, and liking it. He does have a sort of thirty-something boyish charm. Now I'm hideously embarrassed when I see him. What was I thinking of?

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