Monday, 2 February 2009

A Snow Day!

We rarely get snow days in the South East of England so today was special. We all knew it was coming and so at 1:00 am, before I went to bed, I looked out to see if the snow had arrived. It had! Well, I couldn't resist going out in it, being the first to make my mark on the pristine snow.

Usually if it snows here it doesn't settle, melting as soon at it lands on the ground. So today was a real treat.

I got a call this morning at 7:30 to go into a school on the other side of Reading. If the weather is fine I cycle to this school as it is a 2-bus journey. The other day when I went there though, I walked down the hill to a different bus route road, to get the bus that would take me straight there.

Today however it was too slippy to go down the very steep hill so I did the 2-bus journey. It didn't look like the road had been gritted, or maybe it was snowing too heavily to make a difference, but the traffic was going very slowly and the number of people at the bus stop kept multiplying as they kept arriving for their normal buses that were not appearing.

This scenario happened again at the bus stop in town and I arrived nearly one hour late.

The Year 6 class I was to take was depleted by half their usual number - down to 15. There were no lesson plans to follow so we had a great time. They did their normal morning writing, about the snow, and then they decided to plan their strategy for war with the other classes with snowballs. One boy made a few diagrams showing the relative positions of the class team, and another boy made a 'before-we-go-to-war' speech whilst pacing up and down. Some others knelt down as he spoke, getting right into the spirit of it all.

The school has the use of a large field that adjoins the playground so there was plenty of room for building snowmen and the 'war of the classes'.

When we got inside puting socks and gloves on the old fashioned large radiators, there was a very funny incident when one boy the 'class clown' as it happens, could not get his wellies off. He had been rolling down a slope and so his socks had got wet. This had caused friction and, together with the boots being a little too snug for two pairs of socks, caused his boots to be wedged on. We managed to get them off with another boy and I holding him onto the chair and two other boys pulling his boot. I'm glad no-one walked in as we were doing this because it must have looked very 'unprofessional'. Especially as we were all laughing merrily as I was physically manhandling the lad to keep him from being pulled from the chair.

The old Victorian building is well equipped to dry wet clothes but the newly built building for the 3-5 age group has no facility for any drying! How daft is that! The architect and the person overseeing the project obviously had no idea that children that age are constantly needing to change clothes for one reason or another. Just washing hands at the sink without rolling up sleeves causes a need to change and dry the garment. Also there are only 3 toilets between 2 classes of 30 children! There was no thought that the children would all have to go to the toilet and wash hands before they went over to the dining room at midday.

Anyway, back to the Year 6 class day. I mentioned I knew sign language and they were eager to learn some so that is what we did next.

After lunch and another play in the snow, I found a book about Aung San Suu Kyi, from Burma, so I read some of her early life story. Unfortunately we didn't get to her adult trials before they needed a change of activity. I found some nets of 3D shapes and so they decorated them before cutting them out and making them up. They very happily chatted to each other, whilst doing this, very pleased that I was allowing them to sit where they liked. There were very interesting designs. This took them a long time, some doing 4 different shapes.

This was one of those days where I thought, wow, I'm getting paid for having fun.