Little_Mavis' rants and musings


Tracking the teacher

This seems to have caused a bit of a stir on Twitter recently so here is my two penn’orth.

As usual, I see two sides (maybe).

First one of those anecdotes that are disliked as evidence but, I assume, are fine as an illustration.

When I was in the first form of secondary school (no such thing as year 8 back then), I was doing my usual type of doodling in an English lesson. Suddenly the teacher said, loudly “Mavis Wombat, what have I just said?” I was young, I was naive, I took this at face value and dutifully reported, word for word what she had just been saying. I’ve forgotten now, obviously. Anyway, it turns out this was the wrong thing to do, and definitely not what the teacher wanted. In hindsight, I realise what I should have done was look suitably contrite and apologised. For the next week or so I had to move my desk, actually move it, to the front of the classroom right in front of her, not fiddle, not write, not draw and look at her. I don’t think it helped me to concentrate. I did notice her hair, her make-up, her fingernails.

As a teacher, I began to see the other side of things. I was constantly checking to see if the students were paying attention, and their not typing (IT lessons so PCs always available), not fiddling with their phones, (not a temptation when I was at school) and generally looking in my direction. I did explain that the problem was that I needed to see them looking and listening and I needed not to be distracted by their fiddling. I persisted, they got the message. Now as a TA, I often remove pens, pencils, rubbers, rulers etc. from children while the teacher is talking. I’m not, honestly sure they aren’t listening when they’re doing that but I do know that it distracts the teacher and the other children. It’s interesting what you see sitting in a classroom with the children, (or if you do peer observations),

So in summary, my view, for what it’s worth. Insisting on tracking the teacher is overly controlling and will possibly hinder some children because they focus on that rather than absorbing what is being said. What I would, generally, ask is for is a lack of fiddling, especially those girls who play with the hair of the girl sitting in front of them (shudder). What I’ve been trying to decide while writing this is how I would handle those children like me, who doodle while they listen and honestly, I don’t know. Because of the subject I taught it was never an issue. Can you allow one child to do it and not others? Would permission to do that be abused? I’m honestly not sure. Maybe it could be sorted by agreeing class rules with the children? (Though I realise that many consider that to be a huge mistake).

What are your views?


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What is bullying?

I have been thinking about this a lot about this recently after being accused of bullying on Twitter after a one off tweet. I’m not going to go into this, I’d only get cross all over again, and people don’t like me when I’m cross.

However, it did remind me of the way the word is now used for all kinds of behaviour that, while they may not be kind, aren’t really bullying.

First of all a disclaimer.

A few years ago I was effectively bullied out of a career in teaching. It was the same scenario that has happened to many. An overly ambitious manager making excessive demands and blaming staff for anything that they perceive as holding them back in their upward trajectory. If you were following me on Twitter back then, you’ll know how much this affected my health. Before that I’d thought I was too strong a person to be bullied, I was wrong. It’s left me with scars. It can have long lasting and far reaching effects on people.

Maybe this is why I don’t like to see the word applied when what is actually happening is someone making an off the cuff remark or showing a dislike of someone. This may be unpleasant, but it isn’t bullying.

So. What is bullying then? I looked up some definitions. My own instinct is that for it to really be bullying, there has to be persistence of some kind rather than a one off instance and there has to be some measure of power differential. This, of course, could take many forms. The obvious one is physical, but it could also be intellectual, emotional or to do with power. In the latter case the obvious ones are senior employees bullying more junior ones but there are others such as relatively low ranked employees who have established a power base over time among peers or have relationships with those further up the tree. Knowing the right people counts for a lot. The other form this can take is in sheer numbers, which is what happens when a Twitter mob forms. I have noticed that this can happen without the encouragement of the original tweeter. This can also happen in a work setting when someone is newly appointed and is given a difficult time by existing staff, but the power differential is still there, numbers instead of hierarchy or possibly social advantage.
The actual nature of the bullying can take many forms. It can be overt or subtle. It can be disguised as help or support. It can take the form of undermining, in the case of teachers this is sometimes with students as well as with other staff. I suspect when this happens there is no way back.

Next question. What isn’t bullying. One off comments, rudeness and simply disliking someone. I think we should be allowed to not like others. And while it may not be pleasant to be rude, it isn’t bullying and if we label this kind of behaviour as such it belittles the problems of those who have really been bullied. My own experience has had a lasting effect on me. My confidence in my own judgement is still shot, I second guess myself all the time or avoid making decisions completely. I have a tendency to see criticism where none is implied. I often assume that perfectly neutral comments are critical and I find it hard to trust people, especially those in authority.

Bullying is not only unpleasant, it is destructive. Let’s use the term properly.



I’m producing this at the urging of @Chocotzar. There will be many so I can hide safely in the crowd. Overall, in many ways 2014 was a good year on a personal level. I’ll concentrate on that.

I’m not going to look at last year’s until after I’ve finished this in case I find things I should have, could have done but haven’t so I’ll just plough on.


I seem to have pretty much given up on career goals now. Once you reach your 60s it gets harder to move to new goals and it’s hard to go back to old ones if you’ve effectively burned your bridges, but I have a few things to look back on positively.

This year’s major achievement/incident/happening was that we visited friends in America. This may seem strange to all you globetrotters out there and it’s actually quite a difficult thing to admit in some ways but neither my OH nor I had ever flown before. Not from fear of flying but because we’d never really felt the need. Michael doesn’t much like hot weather and neither of us liked beach holidays, which seem to be many people’s introduction to overseas travel. Once we made the plunge we did it in style and made 12 flights in 3 weeks. We managed to include medical emergencies on DSCN0580the plane (not us), cancelled flights (Erie), turned back flights because of instrument failure (Minneapolis), being put up in a hotel (Detroit) and went to two airports we hadn’t planned to visit (Buffalo & Cleveland). We stayed with friends in two very different parts of America, Erie (as in the lake) and Chamberlain in South Dakota. We went on Lake Erie & on the Missouri river and managed two famous landmarks, Niagara Falls and Mount Rushmore. (More if you count the badlands and Deadwood). We had a wonderful time thanks to the generosity of friends we had previously only known on the Internet. We met lots of people and DSCN0476genuinely experienced what you would think of as small town America, including a local event with a ride on an IRB – an ‘Improved Ribbon Bridge’ – crewed by the National Guard and proper American pink lemonade. And we got to stroke a baby buffalo, called Bella. Oh and we went to the Crow Creek Powwow which was incredible. I should really write all this stuff up.

Next. Joined a gym. Was going three times a week until I got that awful cold/cough that was going round which derailed it somewhat. Haven’t lost a great deal of weight but have dropped several inches from various body circumferences and am definitely fitter.

IMAG1159I still haven’t entirely adjusted to not having to look after my dad. Almost two years on I still sometimes remember, with a start, that I haven’t phoned, then I remember why. I don’t miss the worry and responsibility, but I do miss the visits to Filey and the “runs out” I used to take him on. We did visit Filey for the day with an American visitor. The town is as pleasant and peaceful as I remember and the fish and chips are just as good. We must go again this year.


What else? Oh yes. Have acquired a new small cousin (twice removed?? I think) who arrived almost two weeks late on what would have been my parents’ wedding anniversary and named Edith, which was my mum’s name. She’s lovely. And if she grows up to be even half as wise and kind as my mum she will be brilliant.

Work is fine. The class teacher this year is great and easy to work with. My charge is making progress, slowly, but progress.

I’m slowly staring to believe in myself again, though the belief is fragile and I’m not sure I will ever get completely back to my old self-confident self. The consequences of bullying are far-reaching and long lasting, for adults as well as children.


Not sure really. My job will finish in July when the child I support moves to high school. My prospects of finding similar work are slim as I am not actually qualified as a Teaching Assistant and my teaching qualification is post-16 and did not come with QTS. I wouldn’t want to go back to teaching full time, I couldn’t cope so I’m not sure what I will be doing. I’ll have to think about what my talents are and how I can sell them in some way. I’m hoping there is still a pension when I finally reach the ever-receding pension age in a few years.

I intend to carry on with the gym. I’m finally at the stage when I feel better after a session rather than near-death. I’ve even bought some leggings and new trainers. If you see me though, you have to promise not to laugh.DSCN1353

I’ll carry on with the sewing classes, though I’m not exactly brilliant at it and we have discovered I’m a rather odd shape so we have to alter patterns to make things fit. Still, it’s nice learning new stuff and it’s healthier than going to the pub. I just have to break the habit of picking up a takeaway on the way home.

We’ve been invited back to America to stay with (mostly) different friends. We’re hoping to be in San Diego for Thanksgiving. I can only repeat how grateful we are for having such generous friends. There is no way we could afford it otherwise.

Another resolution? Use my camera more? I have a nice shiny camera which I often forget to use. I’ll add some photos to this blog to show it wasn’t entirely wasted.

I’ve tried to make this positive, though like many people, I’m worried about the future. I’ll try not to let my little bit of it get too downhearted and do what I can to make things better.

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Just a quick post after something that was mentioned on Twitter (as ever)

This tweet was part of a discussion about people being nice. And I think they are. But I do sometimes have a problem with this description of charity. Like, I’m sure, many people I am especially sensitive to  some kinds of attack. (And sadly, attacks happen quite often on Twitter) This is nor exclusively relating to Twitter but happens in real life too. (Also brought to mind by a series of posts from  @nancygedge  the first of which you can find here.

I suspect the insults/attacks/unkind words that really hurt are those which attack the qualities & characteristics that we feel define us.

I am fairly immune to insults which describe characteristics I undoubtedly have (short, old, fat, northern), even if they are somewhat exaggerated. I am fine with faults being pointed out (pedantic, picky, over-emotional, erratic) but I am horribly insulted if someone implies that I do not have a characteristic that I am proud of

I am very upset if someone implies that…

  • I do not work hard (not lazy, I think you can be lazy by nature and still work hard, it just makes you efficient)
  • I am careless.(I make mistakes just as everybody does but never because I don’t care)
  • I am dishonest in some way (I am honest to the point of it being a hindrance)
  • I am stupid (I may not be the brightest ever but I’m really not stupid)

I’m happy to have a discussion, I’m happy to disagree but I’m a bit over sensitive about attacks and my views being dismissed out-of-hand and in these cases I do find it quite difficult to be charitable.

I think it may all be due to self-image. We are less able to deal with things that attack our self-image.

What are your trigger points


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Nurture 1314

Having put off my Nurture 1314 blog for over a week now I feel I really should do this in an effort to clear my mind and move on. I have struggled to think positively over the past few years. This is a double blow in a way because I am an optimist by nature. I have sometimes disguised this by a defensive form of pessimism where I actively try to assume the worst outcome so that if it should happen I would be better able to cope, however, secretly, I never really believed bad things would happen. They have of course, and I have coped, better on some occasions than others.


  1. I lost my dad in February. Lots of Twitter people were right there with me through the awful winter months last year when we were trying to cope with his increasing dementia & frailty. My youngest brother was brilliant once we realised how serious his condition was and with organising everything after he died. It has left a huge empty space in my life and sadness mixed with a relief which in turn produces a level of guilt. I keep meaning to blog about him. I’ll be ready to do that soon I think.
  2. On that note, Twitter friends. When I have had dark times they have been so caring & supportive. There were times when I feel I wouldn’t have made it through without them there on my phone with me in Filey. My family were good but having more people to talk to and lean on was invaluable.
  3. We had a huge summer tweetup at Yorkshire Sculpture Park again & met several new folk. This is getting to be an annual event and is brilliant. We selfishly arrange it around our anniversary (mainly because it is Summer & we have good weather usually. If you want to see what it is like my OH blogged about it here.
  4. Met several new Tweeps IRL such as @kykaree @realaqua & @BadPenfold as well as overseas chums @hugeshark & @badunderpants. Lovely people all.
  5. Now have permanent job again. Admittedly it’s part time and only until my charge finishes primary school (currently in year 5) and far, far lower pay than before but still, a job.
  6. Bought a SAD lamp in an effort to counter winter blues (or in my case grumpiness) so far, it seems to help.
  7. Have finally bought paint to start to redecorate our bedroom. Took ages to work out the right type because of the stone walls and incredibly old plaster. (also rather expensive)
  8. Have kept in touch with people from my old job who still matter to me. Turns out most of the ones I had issues with have now left, not under especially pleasant circumstances. That gave me a rather selfish & possibly spiteful thrill of satisfaction. That’s not kind of me I know but my life was made a misery and there is a sense of Karma.
  9. Started sewing classes. I have now half made a tunic. With class fees, patterns, materials & other equipment, this will end up being the most expensive garmernt I have ever owned, but I am having such fun learning completely new skills and meeting people.
  10. I’m more at peace with myself. I still doubt my abilities but my confidence is slowly returning.
  11. Booked trip to the US to stay with friends. We have been promising to do this for ages but finances did not really allow. We sold my dad’s bungalow fairly quickly and have decided to spend some of that on this trip. I am so very excited. I’m even prepared to let you all in on a little secret. I have never flown!

Getting  desperate now Oh yes Helped my charge to learn two things I think will really help

  1. To arrange items in neat rows before counting or to cross things out once counted (I know, but it’s an important skill)
  2. To skip over questions she can’t answer and come back to them later rather than trying & trying & getting upset which stopped her concentrating on anything remaining (Sounds minor but will be a huge asset when doing the actual assessments)

Whee. That#’13


  1. Carry on challenging myself to rediscover my self-confidence and, importantly, push through inevitable minor set-backs.
  2. Forget old job, (if not forgive) Move on.
  3. Be more proactive at work. New class teacher in January. Good time to start.
  4. Blog more consistently. I have neglected it of late.
  5. Re-enrol in sewing class. A half finished tunic is neither use nor ornament.
  6. Book on any suitable available CPD courses.
  7. Actually use the paint we finally bought to redecorate the bedroom. We will have to wait a while for better light though. Also find some wallpaper.
  8. Get back into the garden & tidy up all the bits that have become overgrown or shabby. (Part way there)
  9. Make sure we have at least the occasional weekend away.
  10. Keep in touch with my brothers. It would be so easy not to now we no longer have my dad to make sure we occasionally meet.
  11. Actually go back to Filey for a few days & see some of my dad’s old friends. They were wonderful when he was ill and I want to make sure they know how much I appreciated this.
  12. Walk more. When I get out I always enjoy it. The first step is always the hardest.
  13. Meet more Twitter folk and make sure I stay in touch with those I have already met
  14. Book a place at #NorthernRocks

Right Done. Excuse mistakes please. Was rattled off in a bit of a rush. Off next door shortly for drinks & friends for NYE. Have a great 2014 everyone!

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Clearing my mind #2


Do you remember this?

I got into a couple of heated discussions at the time & even lost a follower or two.

My basic point was that Prince Harry showed a lack of judgement which I felt threw doubt on his being in charge of dangerous military equipment. I’m open to discussion on this but somehow people seemed to think I was saying that I was simply condemning his private behaviour and I had no right to do that.

Several points come to mind

  • I did not approve of his sexual behaviour. I’m a bit prudish in that respect but I agree I have no right to attempt to control this.
  • I do however judge it. Everyone judges other people’s behaviour to some extent. They have a right to behave as they do (within the law), I have a right to think it is wrong. I’ve no doubt there are other people who do too.
  • I make no call to ban the behaviour
  • It is not the behaviour that makes him unfit, it’s not realising that it might be an issue.
  • He is famous. He is in the public eye. This has tremendous benefits (money, free stuff, access to places most of us will never see) It also has drawbacks (public scrutiny of behaviour). The two are pretty much inseparable.
  • It’s no good saying people involved with him are expected not to sell photos. If you party with people you’ve just met you cannot possibly know whether or not they will adhere to your expectations. Women, sadly, meet this problem with terrifying frequency.

I may be wrong in my views, I may be right. But I get a bit cross at being attacked on Twitter for things I never actually said. I get very frustrated at being backed into a corner & challenged to support things I never actually said.

Now it may be that I express myself poorly, or it may be that some people don’t read what is actually written (I hold my hand up to doing that sometimes). In fact, some people seem to wilfully misinterpret what is said. Lets be generous to all concerned and assume faults on both sides.

These days I just block & move on before I get too upset to think straight. But please read tweets carefully before jumping on someone, please read the other tweets from that person to give context before you criticise and do ask for clarification of what is meant before you jump on someone.

That’s all.

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Top Tweets and New & Noteworthy

More and more now on the Web, when you go to a site, they present you with some pre-selected content before you can look at a full list of whatever you are looking for.

I am expressing myself very clumsily here so I’ll have to give a few examples


top tweets

This is what I found when I searched for tweets mentioning Clint Eastwood

If you do a search on Twitter the default result is for “top tweets” This annoys me, how do I know if their “top tweets” are what I’m looking for?

I looked up how Twitter’s Top Tweets work. They say

The algorithm looks at all kinds of interactions with tweets including retweets, favorites, and more to identify the tweets with the highest velocity beyond expectations.”

If you want more information on how it’s done you’ll find the explanation here

It also discusses using the number of times a tweet has been favourited to influence this. Now, I don’t know about you, but I favourite tweets with links so I can look later when I have more time. It doesn’t mean they are actually my favoiurite, well, not often anyway.


Facebooks  News feed basics tells me

The news feed algorithm uses several factors, including: how many friends are commenting on a certain piece of content, who posted the content, and what type of content it is (e.g. photo, video, or status update)”

So basically “we aren’t going to tell you”

People have investigated and I found this. It look as if the “close friends & acquaintances” may help but I’m still not clear if people can see how you’ve classified them.


iTunes  have a section which is called “New & Noteworthy” I’ve given up trying to find out who decides what goes in this section or how, just a few articles on how to get into it. Everyone seem to accept that what Apple does can just be written off as “Word of Jobs”

All of these become self-fulfilling. If these tweets/FB posts/Apps/Books/Podcasts are what you see, they are more likely to be the ones you read/buy.

The upshot of all this is that I just want to see what is available, categorised sensibly so I can find what I want and with a clear description and maybe reviews so I can decide for myself. I am not interested in what other people are looking at or buying. I am not them, I’d rather decide for myself thank you.

I am not a number, I am a free woman!!

Oh, yes. All of this brought on by my dislike of the BBC’s new web page for Radio.  Do go & look & add your comments