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Autumn Daze

‘Autumn days when the grass is jewelled and the silk inside a chestnut shell.  Jet planes meeting in the air to be refuelled.  All these things I love so well…’

…so the song goes.  Autumn is the season when the year shows its true colours.  Leaves leave in various crinkly hues, the sun lies low, and the school field glitters with pre-school silver.

It’s also the time when your year group shows its true colours.  See, the September enthusiasm has long since dissipated.  New beginnings threaten to retreat behind learned behaviours and books begin to accrue dog ears.  Possibility threatens to be mugged by October’s refusal to toe the line.

October is also the season of Charles Goodliffe and Ryan Faulkner; two Year Three boys who together were of average height and build.  Individually they were polar opposites.  Charles, long-limbed and languid and Ryan, short, stocky and in perpetual motion.  They were the best of friends, complementing each other beautifully.

Autumn is the true test of whether established routines are indeed, established.  After break should have been a seamless independent transition to the joy of group reading.  Invariably, this involves the teacher sharing texts with some, whilst others go quietly and contentedly about their individual literary business.  In theory.

Charles and Ryan were not yet attuned to either silence or reading.  Instead, the former was positioned on all fours, braying with excitement.  Ryan sat astraddle, contemplating where best to gallop forth.  Year Three had somehow become The High Chaparral.

After receiving confirmation that they were, indeed, ‘playing horses,’ I couldn’t but help ask ‘why?’.  Ryan’s response: ‘Because we can’.  Which, to be honest, I couldn’t argue with.

School should always be a place where we seek to understand where children are coming from and what they can do.  Yet, too often, we catastrophise about what they can’t.  Faced with a ‘what if?’ they see endless possibility, whilst we too often converge to statutory catastrophe.

A teacher is a facilitator.  Facilitators make good things happen.  That doesn’t mean you have to play horses, but neither should you be taken for a ride.  Teaching children always presides over teaching a curriculum.  Of course, you know this, but that doesn’t mean we don’t all benefit from a reminder occasionally.

Because you can.  Don’t forget it.