I was working in a school in Westham built in the 1800's, the school looked a lot like a prison, the school management team and a lot of the staff were knew and I had been brought in to pick things up and get things going again for a class that were particularly disruptive. Once I was comfortable with the class it would be handed over to a teacher who would take it on long term and i would move on to the next class that needed support.
I remember this class as it was the first time that I actually was beginning to question if I was going to be able to win them over, they were the wildest class I had been with. I had kids painting the soles of their shoes and making footprints on the carpet, kids systematically painting out a page of their library book and then sticking the pages together. Children walked out of the class when they felt the need and generally came back when they wanted to. They tended to do things in packs and I was attempting to attack them a pack at a time but things were simply not working and I was beginning to feel trapped and it wasn't working. However, the next day proved to be one of the changing moments in my career.
It was about 6.30am and I had just got off the tube at Westham and on my walk to school I stopped in at a corner shop to get a newspaper. When I stepped into the shop I was blasted by reggae music pumping out and this smiling dreadlocked sales assistant rocking away behind the counter, waving at me. I got my paper and spent the next half an hour talking to this guy whose face just lit up when you spoke to him and when he laughed. He could not of cared less what I was buying as he was more interested in talking with me and engaging. I remember walking out of the shop and feeling really good about life. I felt like I had brought a piece of his happiness and had the realisation that whatever the kids threw at me I had to be able to throw more positive energy back at them and back this up with enthusiasim.
So when the paintbrushes came out that day I suggested they think a little bigger and we have a go at a mural and I managed to lead that pack/group into doing that and I made it big enough and exciting enough that it dragged all the kids in. When they wanted to start singing and dancing I got the guitar, and when they wanted to run I took them out and we ran.
It took time but slowly I felt them coming together again as a class and finding their way with learning and the structures that they were really looking for to be able to operate.