Click Here to Join!

SENsible SENCO | A Safe Place for SENCOs

(44) 3330909774

So, You’re the SENCO!

Part 7

By 9:30 Mrs Nest was using wild arm gestures to express phonic sounds when her classroom door flew open. But it was still a normal Monday morning.

The crashing of the door into the wastepaper basket and the ensuing clatter briefly transported Mrs Nest back in time to her training days. She hadn’t always taught this age group. In fact, she had two science degrees and was originally trained to teach secondary-aged science. Those were interesting times.

Her first teaching placement was for three weeks in a primary school. She was put into Y4 with the lovely Miss Umpleby. Miss Umpleby didn’t like science, so happily handed over a project within the first couple of days. Mrs Nest, hadn’t got a clue what she was doing! The topic was the human body, so she opted for an exciting lesson mapping out the taste buds on the tongue. Armed with yoghurts laced with sugar, lemon juice and salt they embarked on a journey of discovery. What Mrs Nest discovered was that young children who had consumed large quantities of yoghurt didn’t manage too well with the heavily laced salted version. It also reinforced her emetophobia as half the class proceeded to vomit.
Her second placement for the substantive part of her training was in a strange secondary school based in a mining village. Bearing in mind this was the last century, after introducing her to the class, the teacher left her on page 37 of the textbook and popped off to the staff room for a quick smoke and a large mug of coffee. It was literally a baptism of fire as a couple of Y10s decided that setting fire to a white substance on a piece of foil resting on a wooden lab stool would be a good idea. Mrs Nest caught the smell before seeing the flames and decided the best course of action was to simply walk over, pick up the stool and tip it upside down in the sink (which was inevitably blocked with stagnant water.) The students were rather annoyed that their white substance ended up in the sink, not that Mrs Nest was distraught about a burned lab stool. The teacher on return, simply looked at the stool, muttered something about it being the third one that term, and plodded back out of the room.

Her third placement took her to an old grammar school where she tried to teach a PSHE lesson on gambling by buying a scratch card and demonstrating that you don’t win, the odds are against you. The lesson backfired when she scratched off £100…twice. It was at this placement she had asked to visit the local special school because she thought that might be more where her interests lay. The school arranged for her to spend the Mondays of her final placement in a school for children with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties. Mrs Nest loved it and hated it. She hated the smell, for some reason, there was a permeating stench of cabbages…driving past recently, the smell is still there. She also hated the lack of independence offered to the students (remember, this was last century) and their obvious frustration. But she loved the light in their eyes when they achieved something, or when they shared experiences. On one day she accompanied a group to the local supermarket to buy ingredients for a party they had planned together. They had been working on it for weeks, planning, preparing, writing out lists, checking that they had enough money, and organising transport. The trip was amazing and a real-life experience for the students. Some of them had never ventured into a public forum before and certainly hadn’t interacted on a personal level with shopkeepers. It was a big shout-out to the supermarket staff that day who went out of their way to make it a positive experience for everyone.

Back at the school, they were recounting the visit and putting away the ingredients when the door crashed open (hence the trip down memory lane). The metal trash bin behind the door fell over and dramatically rolled around a few times before clattering to a halt. In the doorway stood a dishevelled and disgruntled adult. Screeching something about parties being the celebration of the devil. As a trainee on her last day, Mrs Nest never did get to the bottom of the story but suspects there had been some miscommunication around the purpose of the event. What stuck with Mrs Nest was the horror in everyone’s eyes, from the students to the staff…this person had just made it all the way to the classroom, unchecked and was now abusing them, albeit verbally, in what should have been their safe space.
A year later, in her first teaching position, a similar event occurred with her own class. A parent was not happy about a sanction their child had received and had somehow managed to bypass the meagre security features in the school and make it all the way to a second-floor classroom to hurl open the door and start screaming. Two Y8 students leapt out of their chairs and stood in defensive poses between the parent and Mrs Nest – which was interesting! In Mrs Nest’s defence, it was a mistaken identity (she was covering for an absent maths teacher…makes you wonder in hindsight why she was absent…) but scary nonetheless. More terrifying once she had managed to usher the parent into an empty classroom next door whilst sending another student to get assistance. And utterly petrifying when the two defenders informed her that the parent had stabbed the class teacher at their first school and been banned from the premises!
As her own classroom door smashed open and Mrs Nest briefly experienced the flashback she did wonder if the devil had managed to hunt her down…it was, after all, a Monday morning…

The story continues…

Come back on the 1st or 15th each month for the next part!