My little midgets are soon to be midgets no longer. Well, they will still be midgets but there are some smaller midgets coming.
My year 7 cherubs are becoming a bunch of unruly year 8s. This is the closest I have ever felt to showing a paternal side. I find myself saying things like “they just grow up so fast” and “it seemed like only yesterday they first came in looking so smart”.
Which leads me to question how they have changed (they no longer look very smart) and whether or not I have done a good job.
I suppose all parents must question their performance. Where they should have been tougher, where they should have spotted early warning signs, or where they could have offered more help.
Largely the midgets have been an absolute dream. I have watched on from a safe distance, mocking other year 7 form tutors as they trundle off to the head’s office to hear how one of their brood has stabbed another with a compass/jumped out of a window/pushed over a table/brought their pet rabbit into school.
My gang had a minor situation involving a mobile phone and there are a couple of them who are allergic to homework, but largely they have been as good as gold.
That is, of course, until this week. I have had a rough few days with the midgets. Two cases of bullying and one case of indecent exposure.
Is this my bad leadership that they have starting acting up just as we approach the finishing line, or good stewardship that they have lasted this long before piping up with some problems?
The first situation was a complex, yet nasty, power struggle among a group of girls who were friends then weren’t. Not my area of expertise if I am honest but with the help of the pastoral team the issues were discussed and now they appear (touch wood) to be the best of friends again.
The indecent exposure was a case of boys being boys being taken too far. The funny thing is you can only stop kids being kids to a point. None of the midgets, I am pretty sure, are inherently nasty but some of them have a tendency to say the odd nasty thing.
Equally, some don’t take offence, whereas others are deeply wounded by the slightest jibe.
You can urge compassion and understanding but these are emotions that even adults struggle with, let alone children.
What I have learnt is that I have very few answers but I can offer guidance and a sympathetic ear. Largely they have to muddle through it themselves. I fear that next year, when the hormones kick in, it could get a lot worse.
The deputy head in pastoral care remarked, after I had just delivered a caring and thoughtful speech packed full of sage advice to the catty girls: “Is this the same teacher before me who said they were a history teacher not a form teacher and would happily go without a form?”
I went a shade of crimson and the only answer I could muster was “no”. I hope in my year with the midgets I have helped to settle them in, steer them on the right course, solve any problems I could solve, and made some positive changes. They have definitely changed me.
Tomas Duckling is a history NQT at Queens’ School in Hertfordshire.