The Gallery: Action

And so the theme on The Galllery this week is:

So with the Olympics and Wimbledon on the horizon here in the UK, and the fact that I'm a very big supporter of kids getting involved in sport for all the benefits it can bring, this week's theme is: Action.

As ever, interpret the theme any way you like. It can be sport, playtime, learning to ride a bike, you taking a fitness class (!), running, skipping, skydiving, whatever.

I've thought and I've thunked. I considered posting this picture, or even this, but they're quite fresh in my blog history and so I went against them.

Then I remembered this shot from my archives and so I'm breaking my self-imposed rule of 'no school talk on my blog'.

There's so much going on in this photo, so much action and also inaction. But more so for me is the story behind it.

The photo was taken nearly eight years ago now and all children in it are now, or soon to be, eighteen. They were my third class that I taught in Reading, and they were little buggers characters, the entire lot of them. So much so, that I couldn't get a supply teacher to cover my class at all; they made every single teacher's lives hell.

And I loved them for it.

It took me until the Christmas term to 'break them in', all gently like ponies. And I did it through love and care. Many of the class didn't have any love or positive attention in their lives, we're talking about children with extremely deprived or tumultuous backgrounds: broken homes, poverty, physical abuse, prostitution, foster care, drugs, sexual abuse, school refusers, and generally badly behaved. I went home every single night from September to December and sobbed my heart out because I felt that I didn't have the skills to care for them or educate them.

And then I spent the entirety of July crying in the evenings because I didn't want to leave them to move back home.

I didn't have lunchbreaks because I was outside running lunchtime clubs renovating the conservation club or taking them off onto the school field to run a rounders club away from the other children. If I did have a ten minute lunchbreak I was invariably called out of the staffroom within two minutes because, "We don't like dealing with the dinner ladies, they just shout at us. You do too sometimes, but at least you listen first!"

When I look at that picture I see a boy who has rebuilt his life and his family from the most horrendous thing to happen to him. I see a lad who lived in fear of his father. And I see a young man who has spent the last seven years overcoming childhood leukaemia.

When I look at that picture I see more than just action, I see survivors.

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  1. says

    Wow, what an amazing post. Do you know what's happened to them now? You must have made such a mark on their lives, it's so amazing the story one picture can tell isn't it? You should be so proud of the effect you had on them xx

  2. says

    wow what an amazing story behind , what appears at a quick glance, such a simple photo!! it sounds like the type of things that happen in Waterloo Road and I thought that maybe that was a bit OTT showing what the teachers do over and above their actual teaching posts. However, reading this has made me realise that maybe it is more factual after all.
    well done you x

  3. says

    wow, you gave me goosebumps! such an amazing post and story, let alone photograph. you should look at this photo and be so proud of yourself! I remember seeing a film about a teacher like you, I think it was with Gwyneth Paltrow, and was based on a true story. it made me go to sleep thinking of the world in a better light and this post has done just that!

  4. says

    What an amazing story. I see pictures like that and stories like that and my heart aches for teaching. I really miss it. I miss the care, the support, the ability to inspire and above all the ability to give them self worth. I worked in a school that has a catchment are that is considered the most deprived in the country and like you the kids I taught had very colourful backgrounds. The difference was I was teaching them at 16. x

  5. says

    That made me well up. I truly admire you for giving those children that time as I believe it will have made a huge impact on their lives, in a positive way, and so many others would have just walked away or probably written them off as no-hopers. It just goes to show that being a good teacher is about more than the curriculum! x

  6. says

    That post brought tears to my eyes chick. I had teachers like you, they taught me far more than it says in that curriculum and they're the ones I'll always remember. You should be proud of yourself for the impact you had on these ones! xx

  7. says

    Yay, wish all teachers were like you….. I have 3 kids from that kind of background and they mostly need care before they can even begin to start learning.

    Love it

  8. says

    God, what an amazing sense of fulfilment it must give you, with the benefit of hindsight and time, to look at how you have influence these precious lives so positively. Much kudos to you and all those other teachers who give a damn.

  9. says

    What a lovely post. Gorgeous picture and such a harrowing story behind it. So pleased things turned out. If only we knew now what we know then scenario x

  10. says

    You've just gone *way* up in my opinion (not that you were ever low down, but you know what I mean?!) for sticking with that class.

    I do a lot of youth work and have, over the years, seen a massive range of kids from all sorts of backgrounds and do you know what? It's the 'troubled' ones, the outcasts, the battered and the bruised that make the work much more worth it. I often get asked how much I get paid for doing Boys Brigade and they're always shocked when I tell them nothing, not a penny. "Why would you want to do stuff for us for nothing?", "Why? Because you're you, if you were someone else you'd be boring".

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