Tuesday, 22 July 2014

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodnight

School is out.

The year has ended.

I have said my goodbyes and now it is time to clean house, sort through all our belongings and pack for the move.

 It was a very bittersweet ending for me at school because I was saying goodbye to so many people that I have come to love and care for. I was overwhelmed by the love and support of my colleagues and children.



 
I had a lovely leaving do at a local Curry House with all my teaching assistant friends. It was planned for me while we were away in Wales scouting for a place to live and so when I returned I was presented with a plan for a wonderful evening out. We went out on the cheap night--£9.95 for poppadoms and chutney, a starter (that’s an appetiser to my American peeps), a main dish and rice or naan bread. One of the other T.A.s has vegan friends and so she could advise me what were the vegan curries on the menu. The food was delicious and plentiful--I took some home for Spiderman. It was a spectacular evening out with good food and good friends and I am grateful to all the teaching assistants who have made my time at school so good. We are the lifeblood of that school. When everyone else is only in it for themselves or stabbing each other in the back--we are looking out for one another and providing a safety net in case one of us falls. I will miss you all.

 

I had a lovely leaving assembly as well. I have been at WD School for ten years and it was wonderful to think back over all the things I have tried to do to make it better. They showed the film of me when I was the finalist in the Teaching Assistant’s With Talent competition four years ago (you can watch it here: http://www.schoolsworld.tv/node/3472) and it reminded me how much I love doing historical drama for the school. There’s an evacuee called Rose Peppercorn for year three (topic: Britain since 1940), Boudicca for year four (topic: the Romans and the Celts), Anne Boleyn for year five (topic: the Tudors) and a young housemaid called Flora Spencer for year six (topic: the Victorians) plus countless other small story tellings I have done. I have been lucky that my school has been up for anything I want to do. If I ask, they let me. Maybe this is the time to take my “stories on the road” and become a travelling storyteller in schools?    

 

In the assembly Mrs Smith asked children to say some things that they associate with me. There were many that I expected such as:

 
She loves spiders.

She is obsessed with the Wizard of Oz.

She likes drama.

 There were a few I didn’t expect, but really touched me.

She remembers when I was born. This is true. Her brother was in year 5 and was in my drama club.

When she puts a plaster on your knee she calls herself Dr Tisdale. This is true. It is part of “bedside manner” routine that I use to put children at ease during first aid. That and offering to chop their leg off and replace it with a wooden leg, an eye patch and a parrot. This inevitably ends with lots of “Arrrrgh Mateys” and “Yo ho ho and bottle of rum” which makes children laugh and stop crying over their minuscule injury.

 

She plays the ukulele. This is true. I bring Tallulah to school every December and go from class to class having a good ole Christmas carol sing-a-long. I also went to year six last year and talked about my experiences growing up in the segregated South and we sang Pete Seeger’s Where have all the flowers gone and We shall overcome together. 

 

She tells us stories on the playground. This is true. I have a group of followers when I am out on Thursday lunch duty who follow me around on the playground. They asked me for a story one time and so I told them a Greek Myth because they were studying that for their topic in class and the rest, as they say, was history. Every Thursday became story telling day. The last story I told was Persephone in the underworld. 

 

She knows a lot about moths. This is true. Recently there was a beautiful brown moth that was camouflaged and trying to hide itself on the wooden climbing frame on the playground. I spoke at length to a group of children about caring for it--watching and observing was fine, but not poking it with a stick to make it open its wings or trying to touch it as the oil from our fingers could disrupt the powdery coating on its wings and prevent it from flying.

 

She calls you Chick-a-dee. This is true. It is my go-to affectionate word for children. I sometimes use Sweetie or Darling, but mostly say Chick-a-dee.

 

She is really happy and full of joy. I try to be. I want to be that person who radiates love and kindness. I had a very nice card from a colleague which read,

I have never known someone quite as genuinely helpful, determined, generous, enthusiastic, unashamed, heartfelt and FABULOUS as you. 

This is what I want for my life and so I’m glad that it comes across. May it continue as we embark on our new adventure in Wales.


There were lots of amazing card and gifts. I had a beautifully wrapped copy of Dr Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go! As many times as I have given this book to graduates and the like, I have never had a copy for myself. I am a big fan of Dr Seuss--I do have the entirety of Horton Hears a Who memorised, after all.  Plus the handmade paper with rose petals in it will surely work its way into a craft project soon.


I got a cool handbag with a tarantula on it as well. When I walk down the street I can hear people gasping and trying to discretely point it out to the person they are with.

 
I had a very sweet pair of tiny spider earrings from a little girl in my class who wrote in her card that I was her creative role model. That pleased me enormously.

 
Lastly, I wanted to show you, my dearest readers, two of my favourite handmade cards.

 
I love this card because it has a treadle sewing machine drawn on it because “you make all your own clothes” There is also a little car drawn on it to remind me of the giver.


 

I love the message inside which must have taken him ages as he is a very reluctant writer:

Dear Mrs Tidstale

I wish you wernt leaving

Love from

Oliver

OOO (hugs)

Lastly, a card that points me toward the future.


 

I am glad that I have had such a good time in England, in Hitchin, at WD school and I’m pleased to have been able to help and show so much love for ten years. May it continue for the next step of the journey.

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