November 30, 2004
A little refreshment

Today, in need of a little face-to-face guidance in the matter of my Paradise Primary activities, I rang the London headquarters. (I see two boys, twice a week for half an hour each, one-to-one, encouraging them to read, talk, be happy, etc.) I asked for Paul The Bo, but instead spoke to the equally helpful Lady Assistant. And it turned out that they had a refresher afternoon for volunteers this very afternoon. Would I like to attend that? I could fit it in, and I did. The gathering consisted of Paul The Boss and four volunteers, me included.

I found both the event itself, and the personal chatting with Lady Assistant on the phone, and then with Lady Assistant and Paul The Boss before the formal proceedings began, both useful and encouraging. Basically, they said, I need not worry too much about whether Boy Two is proving a bit of a "challenge". I should just carry on carrying on, doing my best, and it would almost certainly help, they said. Fine by me.

(Boy One seems to be doing very well, although as we bloggers often say: what do I know? You do your best and hope for the best, with VRH stuff as with so many things.)

From one of the other volunteers I learned that there is at least one way that I have things very easy, which is that I do my stuff in the same place in Paradise Primary every time. She has to duck and weave and find a free spot in her much overcrowded school, and never knows from one gig to the next where she will be, or where the kids will be that she is supposed to be helping. The school knows the problem but can do nothing about it. I just go in and am started within a couple of minutes, in the same place as always. Count your blessings Brian.

Apart from the somewhat tedious travel, which I have yet to get systematised properly, my only other complaint (a minor one) is that I have yet to develop much in the way of a relationship with the school staff. They are very kind and polite, but mostly they just let me in and let me get on with it. They often thank me profusely, but it's hard to tell how much difference I am really making in their eyes. Trouble is, they seem too busy for me to feel comfortable really asking them things, plus it probably doesn't help that I go there towards the end of the school day when everyone is probably eager to be off home, in circumstances of maximum excitement and confusion.

Paul The Boss suggested that if I looked at the Paradise Primary website (by the way Paradise Primary is not this place and nor is this its website) for future school events I might invite myself to, but I couldn't find anything.

Be patient, said Paul The Boss. In fact said everyone (every other volunteer having been at it longer than me).

Paul The Boss also advised that with Christmas approaching, any primary school is likely to be in a more than averagely fraught mood just about now, and that if I just keep showing up until the end of the term, with no fuss, that would be best. Leave all that developing-increased-contact-with-staff stuff until the new year, when things will probably have calmed down a little.

A most helpful event. Basic message from Them to Me: relax, be patient, you're doing okay.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 09:55 PM
Category: Brian's brilliant teaching career