Jenny’s Day in the Life – NEW!

A day in the life – West Calder High School, a secondary school of approx. 950 students in the Scottish central belt.

 8:15-8:40 – There are always students waiting when I get in, especially when it’s as cold as it is today. Ailsa was in early, so I ask her to finish her book review for the blog next week, log her in on one of the netbooks and leave her to it, I will check grammar and spelling later, and give her a merit point. Discuss with Ross and Nicola what volunteer work they can use for their Saltire Awards and ask Nicola to show Ross how to register on the site. Some of my Library Team arrive on the second bus, so I leave them on the desk and circulate to help with last minute homework and book choices. As the buses come in the library fills up, until I have about sixty students in here. Many of our students use the library to print homework, so there’s a constant stream of students in the PC area.

 8:40-8:50 – Registration. A batch of kids arrive to collect requested books – spend some time explaining to Chris that  I will not cut a deal whereby he brings his overdue book back tomorrow after I’ve given him his requested one, but that we will do this the other way around! I ask him to write it in his planner when he returns to class.

 8:50-9:40 – P1. The Careers Advisor comes in to say that her first appointment today has failed to show. I run upstairs to fetch him only to discover that he is sitting a prelim, so he will have to be rebooked. My laptop didn’t pick up the wireless network first time so I have to restart it – which is both annoying and fairly normal. I check my email, deal with the urgent ones, delete things and schedule others, including two requests for book boxes from Languages and three last minute bookings for today (I blame the snow and last night’s Parents’ Evening). I am now feeling disorganized as my Action Planner is already out for the day!

 9:40-10:30 – P2. This period an S4 English class are making cue cards for Romeo+Juliet. The teacher asks Callum to explain ‘Montage’ to me to consolidate his learning – he does so with enthusiasm and hand gestures! Louise chooses to make her cue cards the old fashioned way, with coloured paper and markers, so we get the craft box out for her, but most of the class are using the PCs to make presentations which they will then use as cards. They have to be able to explain all the technical language they use, so by the end of the period I have also had ‘Atmospheric’ and ‘Homage’ defined by different students.

10:30-10:45 – Break. I chat with some very keen S1 girls about Girl Online, and listen to Iona in S5 who isn’t sure who she should go to with a problem. With her permission I email her Head of House, who arrives at the door minutes later and takes her away for a chat.

 10:45-11:35 – P3. S5 Higher Chemistry class doing individual assessment research; this is their third and last week, so there is no contribution from their teacher or myself at this stage (these are the SQA rules). I check three chess sets from break; see the Business Manager about the low temperature in the library (14 degrees according to my room thermometer); come back and tell the students they can keep their coats on. IT support then prop the library doors open for a delivery, and the temperature drops another 2 degrees. Sigh.

11:35-1:15 – P4&5. The Travel & Tourism class is looking at family days out in the local area. We have a collection of current leaflets from West Lothian for them to use, and they are also using the Visit Scotland website. They look at costs for a family; value for money; interest and appeal for all the family; access for granny in a wheelchair and facilities for small children. Some of the class do the absolute minimum, even with encouragement, whilst some go all out and weave little fantasy families and start talking about gluten free diet facilities in the cafe!

Post-itWhile they are in I check through a heap of post-it notes with requests on – two more for Girl Online and one for TFIOS, which I remember is on the A-Z display, so I get it, put it on the reserve shelf and find a replacement F book for the display. Two students are sent individually from an S1 English class for personal reading books with notes from the teacher. Kyle’s note makes me giggle and we swap I am Number Four (which he isn’t enjoying because it’s not like the film) for Undead, because he quite fancies a zombie book. I get both students to sit and read a page or two before they decide, then send them back up to class. I spend some time sorting out replacements for two out-of-print books on the Nat 5 History department reading list and request a loan from another school so the department can make a choice.


1:15-2:05 Lunchtime. Do my height and weight and reluctantly, age, without lying, in the staff room for the Higher Human Biology class statistics. They are doing BMIs, diabetes and healthy population. We have Book Club and Games Club at lunchtime today. The Games Club is run by Jack, an S5 student, with the help of two of my library team. It’s mainly board and card games, with the odd venture into role-playing. I let them play Werewolf once a month; it’s too noisy for any more than that. The Book Club is a very mixed group, from S1 to S5, boys and girls. We are currently reading My Name is Mina (courtesy of the Scottish Book Trust, who gave us twenty copies). Today we have a chat about how the journal style was absolutely loved by some and hated by others, and I tell them that Antonia from Scottish Book Trust was really pleased with the twitter feed the day we all posted what we thought of the cover. There are biscuits; I think they make the meeting go better!

 2:05-2:55 P6. I have a rare non-contact period after lunch. I tackle the paperwork: repairs, requests, answering an enquiry from the community (about the year a former pupil was dux, involving a walk to the hall to check the dux board), change a meeting time in my diary, check the (illicit) petty cash to see if there’s enough to buy the Bane Chronicles in a major supermarket chain where it is about half the price (there is, so I’ll go down after school) for Chloe who asks almost every day, go and find Connor who sneakily dropped a water-saturated book in the returns box and have a meaningful discussion about honesty and owning up, and also point out that I get quite upset when brand new books (which this was) come back damaged. Add said book to things to buy list, get one of the Languages book boxes half done (regional food and cookery)…

 2:55-3:45 P7 – Higher Modern Studies class working individually on assessments, I help them with search terms to find the statistics they need but apart from that all they need is the printer topped up with paper. Their teacher asks me if I can put together some sources for Designer Babies for his Nat 4 class next week. The Careers Advisor arrives after her last appointment and we check the list for next week.

 3:45 – 4:30 Iona pops in to say thank you, and to tell me that she has sorted out her problem. At the end of today I only have one student waiting for a service bus – there can be a few more, but most of our students travel by school bus. Jamie chats to me about his prelim results while I tidy up, he helps put chairs back and switch off PCs, and then he settles down to get his Maths homework done, which means I have a few minutes peace and quiet. I turn the netbooks so the battery lights point outward and plug in the one without a light, lock the trolley, check tomorrow’s blog and the one Ailsa did for me earlier, and put some books away. Jamie leaves for his bus, and I go home via the supermarket to get the book for Chloe.

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