The bliss of my lovely year 7s

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The screeching and sounds of calamity that emerge from a nearby year 9 classroom are confirmation that this bliss cannot last forever...

It is the end of my first week back at school and the days seem to have flown past in a whirl of briefings, whole-staff meetings, department meetings, tutor meetings and the odd lesson thrown in here and there. 

Motivational speeches have been given by senior staff and many a holiday story has been swapped over a rushed cup of tea in the staffroom.

Evenings have been spent creating colourful key word displays and papering classroom walls ready to be adorned with the, what will obviously be, stupendously inspiring work soon to be produced by my delightful new classes. 

Amid the hurry and the busy preparations for a new school year, the highlight of my week has been starting to get to know my year 7 tutor group. On their first day nerves were tangible and initially it was difficult to distinguish between the small, uncertain faces peering timidly from oversized blazers. Even when sent out to break they jittered awkwardly in large clusters, gazing about themselves with the dazed look of startled rabbits.

Gradually though, personalities are starting to emerge. I find myself desperately trying to make mental notes of which pupils are gaining in confidence and which are still loitering on the outskirts of the speedily forming social allegiances, which pupils are modelling beautiful manners and which are emerging as (dare I say it) slightly cheeky, which pupils are responsive and which are prone to lapses in concentration. 

This is of course all much harder given that I do not yet have a firm grasp of names; for just how long is it acceptable to ask pupils to wear a name sticker?

Because it is not just the quantity of names to be remembered that I am struggling to get my head around, it is the names themselves; ascertaining the correct pronunciation of a seven syllable name can be quite a challenge when the tiny girl speaking the name is whispering no louder than a moth.

Despite the emergence of some personalities that are clearly larger than others, I am pleased to say that my overall impression of my year 7s, touch wood, is that they are all incredibly lovely; so far they have conducted themselves impeccably during assembly, adhered speedily to instructions from dinner ladies, and been generally smiley and adorable.

The responses I receive on sharing this impression with more experienced staff, however, hold a common gloomy theme. 

From what I can tell there seems to be some general wisdom that determines that my lovely year 7s will, at precisely some point in mid-October, shed their glossy coats and emerge as scaly sabre-toothed beasts. 

I try to push this thought out of my mind; surely not my lovely year 7s!

You see I am really excited about being a form tutor this year. I am excited about putting up a star sticker chart and finding a bright birthday calendar for our tutor display wall.

I am excited about having our own community where pupils can learn about shared responsibility and ownership and I am keen to share in the “whole school experience” of my pupils; to celebrate their successes, and learn how to support them in any difficulties they might face.

While I am aware that my perceptions of my year 7s may be governed by some naïve optimistic ignorance of the rules of the first term honeymoon period (the screeching and sounds of calamity that emerge from a nearby year 9 form’s classroom are clear confirmation that this bliss cannot last forever), I am perfectly happy to believe for the time being that they are all indeed little angels.

  • Our NQT diarist this year writes anonymously and is a teacher of maths from a south London secondary school.


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