The day the primary school children return to the classrooms is the day the parents who linger behind at the school gates face one of their greatest moments of testing. Firstly, because they are wondering which teacher their child ended up with and secondly, who else is in the class.
Some parents try to take control of the situation and before the end of the previous year they will make an appointment with the school’s principal and sit down to a one-on-one discussion of their child’s needs, the traits and reputations of the teachers on offer, and why they think their child would ultimately be suited to one particular teacher.
This process can bring a false sense of security that all is well and that the principal is going to do exactly as they have been instructed. This is why on the first day back at school there can be more parents in tears than students. Because the meeting with the principal has clearly fallen on deaf ears as their child has ended up in the class with the teacher they specifically asked not to be given.
Adding to the parents’ anxiety is the fact that some teachers, towards the end of the previous year, handed out sheets of paper to the students and asked them to write down the names of the children they would like to have in their class. Imagine the horror some parents discover on the first day back when they realise their child has been separated from every friend they put on their list.
I was at the school yesterday afternoon and there was a parent who was not happy with the teacher her son had been given. She said, ‘I’ve heard she yells too much. And I went up to introduce myself and she said she was off to a meeting so didn’t have time. I’m not liking the vibe I’m getting. Have you heard anything about her? Everything I’ve heard has been bad news.’
I explained I didn’t know any of the Year 2 teachers. Couldn’t pick them out in a line-up even if I had to.
And then she wanted to know about the other kids in the class. ‘You don’t think there’s any disruptive kids in there do you? Like those ones with all the issues like ADHD? Have you heard? Do you know if any of them are disruptive?’
‘I don’t know. Alfie’s not in that class, but there’ll be challenging kids in every class.’
‘What about ESL? I’ve heard there are six new kids in the class. Are any ESL?’
‘I’ve heard there are some from other countries and there is a boy from China who doesn’t speak English but he’ll do well in the Mandarin classes.’
‘I just don’t want Harry’s learning to be held back. How many do you think don’t speak English?’
‘I think it’s three or four.’
‘Oh, that’s not good. That will slow down the learning for everyone else. Does Alfie have ESL kids in his class?’
‘No, they all speak English’.
‘Oh, you’re so lucky. I wish Harry was in Alfie’s class. And you got the teacher that doesn’t yell, too. Did Alfie end up with any friends he put on his list?’
‘He’s got one. A girl.’
‘My son’s been completely separated from his friends. I don’t understand. He was in such a happy and harmonious class last year. This is not good. I’m not liking this’.
And I kept talking to her because I was waiting for a break in the rain before dashing to my car.
As for me, I just never bother interfering. My mother taught me, ‘You’re not always going to end up with the teacher you hoped for, you’re not always going to be in a class surrounded by your best friends and above all, life just isn’t always going to be fair. And you’d better to start learning that now.’
I bet there are many teachers out there who wish parents were more like the ones back in the 1970’s.
I have wonderful friends coming for dinner tonight and one of them is a primary school teacher. I can’t wait to hear the events of her first week back.
Are you glad you’re not a primary school teacher?
I’m cooking Thai tonight and I’ve found a Thai dessert I haven’t made before. It uses Tapioca and I know that polarises people. I haven’t had tapioca for many, many years and I’d like to re-visit this ingredient that has texture but no flavour.
Tapioca Pudding with Palm Sugar Sauce
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: This is a very inexpensive dessert because the ingredients cost very little.
- 8 cups water
- 1 cup tapioca or sago
- 200g (7oz/1 cup) dark palm sugar (Pontiac brand from Indonesia if possible), chopped
- 150ml (5 fl oz /2/3 cup) water
- 200ml (7 fl oz/ 3/4 cup) thick coconut milk or cream
- 1/2 tspn salt
- 2 tbspns fresh coconut, shredded (optional)
Bring water to the boil and add the tapioca, stirring well to stop the grains clumping together. simmer until just translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes, then strain, rinsing well under cold water. Divide between serving bowls, then pour over the palm sugar sauce, followed by the coconut sauce. Garnish with shredded coconut.
To make palm sugar sauce: Combine the chopped palm sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Cool before using.
To make coconut sauce: Gently warm the coconut milk with the salt until dissolved. Cool before using.
This recipe is from Spirit House, Essentially Thai.