Head Teacher’s Blog

28th April 2013
I think I have said before that it would be great to be able to look 20 or 30 years into the future to see what has become of the children we are teaching. Not only would this help us to better prepare them for what is to come but it would also satisfy a burning curiosity.
Since I have been teaching in East Lothian for 35 years now, I often meet former pupils in a variety of circumstances. Some are easily recognised, some I struggle to put names to and there are a few I will never forget!
The reaction of these people is interesting- few scurry by- they generally want to be recognised and it is great to catch up and hear how they are doing. In getting into conversation, they will often talk about something they remember from the time we spent as teacher/pupil. I have to be truthful about this and admit that few say they remember how good I was at teaching them to read or learn tables- mostly it is small and often unremarkable things. One boy remembered that I had taught him to whistle- I’m sure his parents blessed me for that one; one had fond memories of making and eating soup- 30 years ago it was not so common to cook in class. A few have mentioned the singing we did together-at that age they patently don‘t recognise bad guitar-playing! I was accosted one night in a restaurant in Dunbar by a grown man, who was obviously enjoying his Friday night in the time-honoured fashion, and who got down on his knees in front of me and insisted on singing “The Wheels on The Bus Go Round and Round” which he said I had taught him in primary two. Obviously I had taught him well- he could sing ALL the verses!
I have had the privilege of working with two former pupils as colleagues- one of them is Kirsten Pearson, currently at Saltoun. She was talking recently about a trip to Tyninghame beach we had in P4- some 30 odd years ago. She didn’t mention what the learning intention was for the outing but had clear memories of my dog being there- some things don’t change!
The point of this rambling is that it is often the small, seemingly insignificant experiences which make the longest lasting impressions. In thinking about my own childhood, my best memories are of fairly ordinary things which become special because you share them with people close to you-holding fenceposts for my dad to knock them in, scuffing through Autumn leaves on a walk with my mum and grandmother, getting the first go on my brother’s home-made raft- it was many years before I realised he was using me as a test-pilot!
We don’t always have to spend lots of money or make elaborate preparations to make an impression in children’s lives- it would seem that just being there for them is often enough.
What do you remember most fondly about school or childhood? Have you considered that in relation to your children’s memories?
Have a great week,
Lindy Lynn

Head Teacher’s Blog

April 20th 2013
It is hard to believe we have only been back for two weeks- it has already been a busy and productive term. Friday saw the departure of our backpacks- first to Tranent (someone’s garage), then Glasgow to the Mary’s Meals warehouse where they are sorted and I think designated for a boy or girl, then off in a container to wherever they are needed. Claire, who did the collection, left with a car stuffed full of bags and was delighted by the response from our two small schools.
There is a short film on the Mary’s Meals website that shows the journey of a particular pink backpack to its eventual and delighted owner. We showed it to the children at assembly- it is worth looking at. The older children at Saltoun also watched a film called Child 31, which some of you may be have seen. They were so affected by what they saw that they have determined, come what may, to raise £6000 to provide a kitchen and meals for a school for a year.
This happened on Wednesday. By Friday, they had set up a committee and are working on a plan of campaign. They have asked H2H for support and have an agreement that half the profits from the Summer Fair will go to towards the appeal- they understand and accept that there will be less money for us to spend on playground equipment or “extras” for school. They would like to organise a cycle/walk/scoot event on the West Saltoun to Ormiston railway walk. This is pencilled in for Saturday 22nd June and will involve families in a sponsored event or simply paying a fee to take part. They are planning an event every month between now and December. Their friends at Humbie will be asked to play a part too- perhaps the next community Café? I know they will rise to the occasion.
Their committee consists of co-ordinators, press-officers, letter-writers, treasurers and more- everyone is playing a part.
I have no doubt that you will have heard them talking about it. I was impressed and moved by the commitment and compassion of these children. This is their own idea- as a staff we will back them in any way we can- it will involve all of us in more work and Mrs Birrell already has plans to tie in some of the activities to curricular topics- persuasive letter-writing, graphs, money, collaborative working etc.
It will no doubt involve parents in more work- in helping to organise, taking children to events and in giving. However- I hope, like us, you are proud of your children -their understanding of the plight of those in need and their determination to do something about it.
Look out for the first press release.
I am equally proud of Humbie children this week. In Mrs Prudence’s absence, they have coped admirably. They have welcomed each new teacher, shown them the ropes and behaved as we would expect them to. They have had four different teachers this week- not ideal but at least they only had to put up with me for one afternoon! I visited Mrs Prudence on Wednesday and delivered the many cards and buns that had been made for her. If good wishes and carbohydrates count as therapy, she will soon be up and running about!
There is sometimes bad press about the “younger generation”. It is a pleasure to celebrate their many good qualities at times.
Have a good week,
Lindy Lynn

HeadTeacher’s Blog

April 13th
A personal note this week to start the term. Tomorrow (Sunday) I am going to a naming day for my great-nephew, Josh. He is just 8 weeks old and is the second grandson of my late sister, Anne, who died a few years ago. As well as very strict instructions about what was to be allowed and not allowed at her funeral- she was quite a forceful character- she tasked me with looking out for her two boys. These “boys” are now in their 40’s and while it has not been too onerous looking after them, I like to think I have done my best- their mother would not have tolerated less!
I have been asked to be a “guardian angel” for Josh- it is not a religious ceremony and I am touched and delighted to do so. The proud parents asked if I would like to say something at the party, adding that I probably would anyway- sometimes it’s tough having a teacher for an auntie.
So, walking the dog this week, I have been thinking about children and parents and what you would wish for them if you were able to wave a magic wand. I have often thought over the course of my years in teaching, that if you could look into the future-say 20-25 years- and see what has become of the children you are teaching, you could do a much better job of equipping them with the skills and abilities they would need- I suppose it is the same with parenthood. If only we had hindsight and foresight!
In the lack of these two very useful skills, I guess we just have to do the best job we can in arming our children against the slings and arrows of outrageous life.
The matter of what we wish for our children is slightly different- it can be anything at all from being blonde and beautiful to being Chancellor of the Exchequer- or both. I think as teachers (and I will ask this next week) we might wish that children had the ability to take on board all the skills they will need in literacy and numeracy; high aspirations and determination to fulfil these; a sense of fun and enjoyment in all they do; resilience and strength of character to cope when things go wrong; the flexibility and resourcefulness necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Perhaps the most important thing you could wish for any child is that it has a loving home and a family who will nurture and care for it unconditionally. Like all of our families in Humbie and Saltoun, Baby Josh and his big brother Rory are lucky boys- they have great parents and an extended family who will look out for them.
What would you wish for your children if you could wave a wand and grant them one precious gift? I would be very interested to hear your thoughts.
I thought you might like this poem I found to read tomorrow- if I can get round the lump in my throat.

Lindy Lynn

Follow Your Dreams
When others say “It’s hopeless and it really can’t be done.”
When they tell you “It’s all over. It’s a race that can’t be won.”
And they promise “You could spend your life just lying in the sun.”
Follow your dreams boy. Follow your dreams!
When the people you admire, but who wouldn’t understand,
Tell you “Other roads are safer. Your dreams are much too grand.”
Or the doubters and the tempters try to take you by the hand.
Follow your dreams boy. Follow your dreams!
You should listen to the counsel of the people that you trust.
But don’t be turned aside just because they might get fussed
You live the life that in your heart you know you really must.
Follow your dreams boy. Follow your dreams!
There is nothing you can’t conquer if you believe you can.
No mountains you can’t straddle, no oceans you can’t span.
Just conjure up a vision and set yourself a plan.
Follow your dreams boy. Follow your dreams!