Well… what to say… yesterday was my final day of being a Big Writing consultant. The last four and a half years have been wonderful, and it’s truly been an honour and a privilege to work with Ros Wilson and my amazing friends and colleagues at Andrell Education. Big Writing not only changed my classroom practice for the better – but my life as well. It’s been a blast – but it’s also been busy. I think I’ve gone through at least five suitcases – and I have a wee bump on the ring finger on my left hand – from pulling them around Scotland for so long!
I suppose I knew this day would come – I just didn’t think it would be here so soon. But if your body, your doctor and a neurologist are all advising you to slow things down a bit – then I suppose it’s time to listen. Or as a lovely person said to me recently: ‘You just need to go with the flow – and listen to the messages that the universe is sending you.’ Message received, and understood.
I’d just like to say a huge thank you to all of the teachers (all 7000+ of you!) who had to suffer in-service with me in charge – making some of you dance on demand, do Brain Gym despite Bad Science, do Ribbon Gym to Gangnam Style, write The Longest Story in the World using a bag of ball pit balls and the Birdie Song… (you had to be there…) your enthusiasm, participation and dedication to the cause of helping all of our children transform their writing is what kept me going all this time.
A special thank you too, to all the welcoming teachers and schools, to people who gave me lifts, put me up in their house, took me for dinner, took me for drinks, tweeted their support when I was having a #traveljinx, and helped me tidy away after a long day… it was all very much appreciated.
Lastly, to all those I met and made friends with along the way – thank you. (You know who you are.)
So, instead of crying into my keyboard – I’m going to leave you with some of the best laughs I’ve had over the last few years. The extracts below have been carefully preserved from training days across Scotland. (The names of the teachers and schools involved have been withheld to protect the guilty parties.)
I asked them to ‘up-level’ (improve using all of your VCOP and more) some sentences from Roald Dahl’s BFG. Here are the most creative, crazy and downright dirty results… (Apologies to Ugly Steve – yours is not included – it crossed a line – even for me!)
‘Aggressively, the furious BFG snatched the empty transparent jar from the shelf above the fireplace. Shaking the jar vigorously, he bellowed, ‘Martin, you’ve stolen my ******* pickles again!’
‘Tentatively and slowly, Sophie, who had not eaten for three whole days, inched the grotesque looking luminous-green, gnarled snozzcumber into her salivating mouth. However, she found it a great disappointment.’
‘Cautiously, Sophie slipped the prickly, gargantuan snozzcumber between her trembling lips. Unfortunately, her disappointment was tangible and she vowed never to indulge in such an eye-wateringly distasteful activity ever again.’
‘Pensively, Sophie reached for the muckle, bulging snozzcumber and delicately placed it between her moist quivering lips. The pungent flavour repulsed her so much that it triggered her gag reflex… “OMG BFG…” Sophie managed to mutter, before vomiting violently on the floor.’
‘After washing it carefully in the fast flowing stream, Sophie tentatively placed a tiny sliver of the mouth-watering, verdant snozzcumber in her gaping, salivating mouth. Because the flowing motion of the stream had created a sense of impending calenture*, she was overcome with nausea. Nevertheless, she persevered, and taking her courage in both hands, she opened her mouth and swallowed it.’
*calenture: (noun) Feverish delirium formerly thought of as afflicting sailors in the tropics. Definitely one for the Wow Word Wall!