Those were the days Part 16



Chalk

When I first started teaching SATS had not been invented, whiteboards (the ones with dry wipe markers) were considered to be truly cutting edge and nearly everybody still had blackboards. There was an art to writing with chalk, you used to get a callous on the tip of your index finger from writing with it – your fingertip used to hurt at the start of term, but hardened up in time. Also the dust chalk made was murder, it got everywhere.

Reporting

When so much is asked of you, it’s time you asked more of your management information system…

This is a direct quote from the company that has spawned the favourite friend of all teachers these days – SIMS. But what are they on about and what have we come to? Equally are there two words in that statement that could be removed and all of a sudden it makes so much more sense!

It is all about SIMS these days, but back in the day reports were hand written once a year by subject teachers on carbon paper, no crossings out or tippex corrections were allowed; statement banks and ctrl C ctrl V were things of the future. The reports themselves were really short – not even A5 in size. The form tutor report was shared with the Head teacher’s comments on the last page.

Yes – he wrote a brief report by hand on every kid in the school after reading all of the subject report pages and checking them for errors. He actually read all of the reports over a weekend and flagged up any errors that he found. This was incentive in itself not to stuff up. I used to sweat bullets writing the form tutor report, as if you buggered it up after the Head had done his bit, you would have to go to his office, cap in hand, and ask for him to write it out again.

The Head always used to teach a foundation English GCSE class and follow them through the two year course. No quibbling, nor favour asked for, the Boss got what he was given when groups were allocated. He rarely missed a class for a “meeting” – just chalked and talked and got the kids through their exams. Old school!

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