Tag Archives: Teachers

You’ve come a long way baby….

group of people holding wine glasses

Photo by andres chaparro on Pexels.com

Hard to believe that I have reached the point in my career where I am now being asked to give speeches at retirements.

I admit to being absolutely filled with dread when asked to speak at the retirement of four languages teachers, one of whom had a profound influence on my career. Not to mention that I was going to be in the company of the teachers with whom I had gone through my teaching adolescence with. The teachers who very probably saw me at my early stages wobbling about like a baby giraffe. Not really knowing if it was new year or new york. The teachers who seemed so glam, sophisticated and who used to roll their eyes whenever I recounted stories of a crazy weekend of adventures at the dancin’.

So where do you start? Well apart from the gin bottle and pray everyone else is well oiled before you start speaking?

I did my research, talked to colleagues and friends and put on my lucky pants.

I met up with a few of the old gang for an apero beforehand. It was lovely. In fact, it was really lovely. Despite the fact I had not seen a number of them for years, the chat was great and the laughs aplenty. The old relationships were resumed, I felt 22 again and they were again laughing at my escapades. I found myself with new members of the department that I had trained – who were let in to some of my antics as a new teacher. The less we talk about that the better.

We met up with the rest of them and if retirement makes you look that good, sign me up now. Here were these elegant women and men who still managed to make me feel like I was a burst couch. (Despite the fact it was a 10/10 for the shoes – a gold sparkly pair of KGs) A few eyebrows were raised as we updated on jobs and where everyone was. Yes, even a scheme girl can do well you know. “you’ve come a long way from the days you were skipping out at 3.30″

You are right, I have. What do you don’t know is that when you came in 8.45, I’d been up since 6am so get to my desk for 7.45 to get the disco on at the top end of the corridor.

The speeches were not scheduled till after the meal and as it always had been – the meal was a long affair, and I just lined up the grappa to have if I survived.

My former boss, mentor and friend was first up – as ever, accomplished and with a few notes on her phone.

Then it was me….7 pages in pencil. Yes, really. It’s the translator in me. First version, scored out bits, arrows, different colours and handwriting only I could read. (I should have worked for the Secret Service)  It was a joy to see the faces as I was able to quote from references, interviews and friends.  We discovered some special talents that they had forgotten about – guitar playing, running, netball, etc…..

I was particularly chuffed to use the line ” If you want to blame anyone then look no further – two of you interviewed me and let me in……”

To talk about the impact and legacy these four amazing women have left on teachers and children alike was great but it did leave me wondering about who fills that gap?  I am biased, I know that – but the enthusiasm these women have always had has not left  them and they leave a massive hole in the teaching tapestry. They did come a long way. And have a long way to go in their new adventures.

For the record, I didn’t cry and the grappa was welcome.

Then we went to the dancin’ till about 2.15am  – oh yes we did. As did the oldest retiree in the group.  You can take the girl out the department……..


Yer results are in……

During the last academic session I had a class of primary teachers that I was preparing for Higher Spanish. I decided to do this for 2 reasons.
1. Purely selfish to make sure I could still do it.
2. Professional development for teachers.
We’ve all been there…..you go to training or someone comes to look at your work and you are thinking aye, very good. When did you last bother your derrière in class? Credibility??
It was a learning curve to say the least. Twilight once a week. Teachers are knackered and I was coming in after a whole day to….yet it was an absolute joy.
I had to teach in a completely different way, some of it was challenging and some of it was quite refreshing.I don’t mind admitting that I was absolutely petrified about the results. It never leaves you.
I was reflecting on it as I plan for this session and comparing my work plan to when I was in school with seniors was quite stark. Where I had the luxury of spending time on perhaps wider linguistic experiences and more fluid language I soon found out I had to be really selective and focus on the skills of language learning. I spent much more time on working with how to manipulate language and the promotion of skills. I still managed to sneak in some of my usual activities with music and translation but I still felt pushed. Granted they were incredibly motivated and I didn’t have to remind them that they needed to learn the grammar rules but it was a lot to go from zero to hero in about 6 months. They were all at totally different levels so differentiation was a hoot and a half.
When the HT of the school sent me a message saying “can you talk?” I don’t mind admitting my stomach was in my derrière.
Job done. Results were outstanding.
It was an absolute blast.

Where is the love?

I attended an in service a few years ago and it was singlehandedly the best reflective morning I had ever had. At the core of what he presenter was saying was if you have forgotten why you are in the teaching profession go back to where you found the love in it.
I have taken a break over the summer to reassess where I am in my education journey and to make a decision about where I am going.
I went back to the people who had created that love of education for me,spent a lot of time talking and listening and soaking up their enthusiasm,commitment and love for education.
First there was G. He was my line manager when I first arrived in Glasgow and we’ve had a great relationship both as colleagues and friends since then. We are both at totally different ends of the scale when it comes to our approaches but complimented each other very well when we worked together. His organisation had me shamefaced what with my more hands off attitude to paperwork. However, his guidance in forming pupil relationships and the advice in how to work with other colleagues was second to none. I’ll never forget the time I was really struggling to get something positive in a report card about a particular student who was very challenging and it still makes me laugh to this day. I was reminded that parents still want to have something positive to read even if they know just how much of a loveable torag their child is. Saying they have nice teeth won’t cut it. We had the chance to reminisce and crease ourselves with laughter about escapades, nights out, friendship and how my job is still to make the tea after 17 years. Somethings don’t change.
Then there was JGJ. I’ve written about him before – my soul mate from teacher training college. It was time for one of our quarterly catch ups and we spent a lot of time saying ” maybe it’s just me…..but…..” We talked about how work life balance is so important to us what with having wee people and how the expectations upon us can be hard to reconcile. His wife is now in a promoted post and we talked about working smart so that time at home was with the wee people, as they needed us more. Can you be a parent,promoted and have it all? It’s bloody hard. There may have been an afternoon apéro and sunshine involved and it was indeed another way of getting back to where the love was.
Getting back to the love was always going to involve the ladies with whom I was blessed to make magic with in my department when I was PT. 3 of us met….both of them now promoted and I couldn’t help but be filled with pride as these two wonderful mums sat there proving to everyone that you can indeed have it all. It’s bloody hard work but possible. We watched our wee ladies scoot about enjoying the freedom and we laughed, talked about the challenges we had and how we got over things like difficult staff, lack of sleep, deadlines and my ridiculous flouting of the rules. At the core of everything was the difference we had made to children. We all had particular children that we remembered for one reason or another and the anima we shared as talked about them was really quite something. Professionally, I was never more satisfied than when I was working with these ladies…..it was probably when I was physically at my worst and yet with the energy from a good team you can pretty much do anything. As a leader you are indeed only as good as your rock stars you are surrounded with. I had a supergroup.
However,if I strip it back to where the love is and what helped to make my decision to stay in teacher education rather than back to class full-time was a certain little lady who is now a most valued colleague. I had the joy of teaching this lady for 4 years and it was her class that cemented for me my love of being in education.i have watched her grow, travel and develop into the PT she is now. To see her be a role model for the next generation of children is nothing short of fairytale ending for me.
Starting the new session with renewed energy, ideas and a chance to work in the world of education is an enormous privilege

Hell hath no fury…..

I had a couple of days where the body had just decided to give up. Even the eye lashes were hurting and I was quite frankly pathetic. I have the loveliest of friends who realised that something wasn’t quite right and I was visited with fruit, croissants and chat (and the hugs) Then There is the pal that we all have. The one that gives you a boot to the derrière and says you better be ready for 730 and you better be in heels. ( and says if you have kankles, get your trousers on, yes, a proper ray of pitch black)
Going to be honest, I was more frightened of not turning up than worrying about the pain. ( in the best possible way)
Waiting at the train station was an experience. The combination of the sunshine and the long weekend had rendered some of my fellow city dwellers somewhat red, tapsaff and fully paid up member end of the ministry of funny walks.
We wandered to the restaurant and as we sat down, the table beside us started talking about us. In French.
Nothing offensive but were commenting on the dresses and heels and the glam for a Friday night.
You see, apparently no one in the city speaks other languages. My pal decided she was going to regarder le menu and started her nonsense.
The table next to us clicked.
A bit of Bonsoir and see and eat up yer at yer aunties and they were suitably mortified.
Yes, the very fact I had my knickers on the right way and hadn’t gone siouxie sioux with the eyeliner was nothing short of a miracle.But speaking French?? Zut alors!
It did make me laugh that people just assumed that no one would understand them, never mind speak French.
I enjoyed listening to their chat about politics, Macron and of course, black pudding.
It was perhaps a safer conversation than they might have had……
They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Hell hath no fury like a French teacher mistaken for anything else.

Bleach Oot…….


You can always tell when the experts or the important people are coming. The toilets stink of bleach and the good cakes come out.
Recently I was part of a group invited to hear some “experts” talk about education and languages in particular.
Now, I always try to have an open mind. I mean it, I do try.
The experts arrived with haunners….an entourage that would put Beyoncé to shame. They were the ones that had done the research, written the speeches and looked like they were holding their breath as their boss delivered the speech.
I may have been a tad underwhelmed but I enjoyed the cakes. Figured I had earned it by sitting on my hands and not saying a word.
We were recently gifted some advice in the world of education. To be honest, it was a bit like hoping for a bike at Christmas and being given a unicycle.
Nice, shiny but not much use to the masses. I wonder if the experts that wrote it had the good cakes and bleach treatment. Or was it the crowd of hingers on that had dreamt it up?
To be fair, When I looked at some of it, it only confirmed what some of us realists had said a few years ago and had already been working with. However, I have to hope that they did get some experts in. Teachers. Aye, the people that actually do the job. The ones that should get the bleach and good cake treatment.
scottish education is at a point of change, so it would appear the bleach and good cakes were brought out for a team of international experts.
I find it hard to believe that international experts can accurately give a true picture of the next steps we need to take to make our education system better.
Perhaps I need to give them the benefit of the doubt? Our home-grown experts need to cast aside the hingers on and engage with and talk with the people who actually make the educational world turn. The brave ones, the inspiring ones, the leaders who know what is best for the wee people in front of them.
They don’t need cakes and bleach treatment. And now we know we don’t need to do any paperwork that doesn’t directly impact on the learner journey, perhaps they’ll have more time to deliver for children.

Mammy points -8 ( I reckon)
Manolos ( not great this week…all flats)
Methodology – 7/8 taking me a wee bit longer to get my groove…..

Teacher parents

Dear Catriona,

In response to your column “in loco parents? in loco magister”



I’d like to write on behalf of all the fabulous parents I know that are teachers. I bet Kezia and her Dad are having a giggle.
I challenge you to ask all the weans that have teachers as parents of it really is that bad? How you surmised “the teacher parent’s typical staccato sting” in less that 140 characters on a tweet is good going. Good thing you had good teachers.
The notion that teacher parents have no boundaries between the school room and sitting room is a sweeping generalisation that would get a lovely red pen taken to it with ” eh??” Written beside it.
When I get home, all I can think about is my wee lady ( 6 years old) and switching off from what has been an exhausting day physically and mentally.
I love being a teacher and every child I meet is treated as I would treat my daughter. But let’s be clear, I love being a mum and that will always be totally different. On this blog I have written about e challenges I face as a mum and a teacher and trying to get everything right, and do you know what, it’s bloody hard.
A teacher can very often be the only parent that some of the pupils have and it’s a privilege to work with young people.
When I sit on interview panels the biggest question for me is “would I trust you with my daughter?”and if the answer is no then I wouldn’t trust them with anyone else’s daughter.
The same way there are tiger parents, there are tiger teachers. I have been on the receiving end of such tiger teacher parents at parents night with opening lines such as ” you do know I am a teacher?” Aye, very good. Do you know I am Xena the warrior princess? Here’s my box of jots I give. Yep,none.
I, and a whole lot of the fabulous teacher parents who are my friends would never dream of treating teachers of our children like that.
Dont tar us all with the same manky brush.
In response to your article : I don’t give a jot about cool, I don’t give a jot about points scoring.I care about my daughter, I care that she knows she is loved and nurtured.
When I am at work, I love, care for and nurture the children I teach, as I might be the only one that does so that day.
I would never use my ” teacher wit that cuts to the quick” as you say it on my weans in school or on my daughter.
To suggest that teacher parents have little empathy for the children they have “bred” makes us sound like some sub species.
If it wasn’t for the brilliant teachers who give everything they have every day to make a difference to children, you might not be writing.
Shame on you Catriona. It’s a pity that perhaps you have experienced something similar but please, gies a break, pop your manky tar brush away and take it from one who knows, the majority of teacher parents go home every night and hold their own precious little people a wee bit tighter after having dealt with trauma during the day for other children.
Humiliating them, pressuring them and using them to point score is NEVER on our agenda. With our pupils or our children.

World teacher day……



Yesterday was world teacher day and it got me thinking about my own journey as a teacher.
I must admit I had some of the most inspirational women as teachers both in primary and secondary.
We had formidable ladies in primary who wore high heel shoes, had the biggest buns in their hair without the use of a donut I may add, and were some of the most creative people I have ever met. I learned about plants from Mrs.Forde,music from Mrs.Devine, art from Mrs.Gaddis and how to write a good story from Mrs.Duffield. Primary was a joy and each of these ladies had a profound influence on me.
Secondary school was the first time I had seen a male teacher! I found most of them cold and all of a sudden I was out my wee primary bubble. Without a doubt the two teachers that really shaped how I now teach were Mrs.Benson and Mrs.Flynn. Both were my languages teachers and totally different in style but one thing the both had in common was their ability to nurture and inspire.
University brought even more teachers, totally different and again I found myself out my secondary bubble in a different one where again, I found to a wee bit cold and not very personal. Then as we progressed through uni we got to know the lecturers and yes, I am still in touch with some of them.
There are always two camps when it comes to the take on teachers- those who criticise and are keen to point out ” those who can, can, those who can’t, teach” and those that know just what it is to be in the privileged position of being a teacher. To have the joy of working with young people- to inspire, nurture, guide and even love.
Being a leader in a dept is a tough role, well for me. You want to keep all the rubbish away from your team, keep the workload even but also have high standards while allowing for teacher autonomy.
I don’t likes to micro manage my team and have never had to. I’m lucky.

So to all your teachers out there, happy teacher day. I hope you realise that no matter where you teach, every teacher matters.