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2006-02-07 - 9:35 p.m.

To continue with the character profiles of the children I have the pleasure of attempting to teach:

Stephanie (I'm not using real names) has new glasses. They are even thicker and heavier than her last ones, and within a day of her getting them I discovered her at lunchtime hiding in the classroom in tears because someone had said they looked ugly. I told her that they made her look lovely and were much smarter than the last ones. I didn't tell her that the thick lenses magnify her confused-looking, sky-blue eyes so much that she reminds me of a slightly mischievous, disorientated blonde bush baby.

Stephanie is part of a seemingly limitless family. I think I've counted three brothers in school, and she's written about her 'little baby brother' as well. They appear to have one PE kit between them, and afternoons are frequently interrupted by streams of Stephanie's brothers of various sizes coming to fetch it. On her, when she retrieves it, the shorts reach her knees. Occasionally she comes in without having had any breakfast, and wanders around looking miserable and muttering 'not very good' as an answer to all questions. I send her to the secretary who secretly feeds her cake and sends her back. After break-time toast she becomes her normal, completely irresistable self, and seems to attach herself to me like a shadow, always finding herself exactly behind me wherever I am and repeating 'Can you 'elp me?' like a stuck record.

Among her many problems, (sorry - Special Needs) Steph has speech and language difficulties and she hasn't mastered the re-ordering of a statement to make a question yet. She appears in the classroom every lunch time with what sounds like a confident string of statements: "I can clean the board? I can 'elp you clear up? I can sit in 'ere?" It took me a few days to work out that she was offering assistance! The main misery of her life is that, because of her stature, appearance and the general cuteness produced by her language, people keep mistaking her for a year 3. I've done it a couple of times and regretted it. She doesn't seem to socialise with the year 4s, though, but zooms around the playground by herself, occasionally stopping to explain to whoever is on duty; "I'm a crocodile an' I'm eating the biggest number!"

She has never made it to school on time in the four weeks I've worked there, and tonight she was frantic about the early start to the class trip tomorrow. "I won't be able to go" she insisted, almost in tears, "'cos my little baby brother runs upstairs and my mum 'as to go and fetch him and that's why I'm always late". I was persuaded to go out onto the playground and persuade Mum that Stephanie *really has* to be on time tomorrow. Mum and Dad look like something out of Trainspotting, but she was perfectly friendly to talk to. We'll see.

 

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