Teacher, Buffering – Episode 2

“It’s all in the transitions, Glynnis.”

“But Not Cheese McCartney,” says Callum and his table mates fall about laughing.

Jason, missing two front teeth, chimes in: “In Spanish, that’d be ‘Pero No Queso McCartney’!” They all crack up again.

“Okay, children. Right. Eyes on me?” shouts Michael Benzine, two-time winner of Egham Informer’s Tech Teacher of the Year (Upper Primary, small cohort 2007 and 2008).

“Eyes on me!” parrot back his students.

We are here at Bracewell Primary to get an insight into the daily practice of leading ICT practitioner, Michael Benzine, pioneer of BeBotBodyPop (“Wake & Shake Girls Into Coding”).

Michael is in the middle of teaching a literacy lesson. His teaching assistant, Glynnis Hardacre, is sat with a group of four students, each with their own iPad.

“Okay, children. Right.” Michael stands confidently, legs apart like Theresa May. “Yes, Nick, this way. You’re sitting really well, Ben. J.P., this way, please. Now…” Michael is using his Wait Time technique combined with Positive Behaviour Management (PBM) to bring his class to order.

“Okay. (That’s good, Callum.) Let’s focus on the smartboard. (No, the smartboard.) We’re writing, what are we writing?”

“Biographies.” says Glynnis, smiling.

“Er, yeah, biographies – thanks, Ms Glynnis,” says Michael. “Sit down, Alan. If you need to go, sit back down and put your hand up to ask properly.”

Alan, picking his ear, sits down and puts up his hand, looking over to the cameraman sat next to me as I take notes.

“Biographies, yes,” repeats Michael, “(Yes, Alan, you can go.) Which famous person have we been investigating? (Sign the book, Alan. The book.)”

Jason puts up his hand and shouts out: “Paul McCartney, sir.”

“(No, the toilet book, Alan – that’s the book library book.) Yes, Jason, it is Paul McCartney.”

“He wrote the Frog Chorus, miss.” says Ben.

“Sir.” corrects Michael.

“That’s right: Sir Paul McCartney.” Ben beams at Glynnis, who frowns a little at Michael.

“(No, that’s still the book library book, Alan.) We’re now going to watch a short video about Sir Paul McCartney. So get your copybooks ready to make your most organised notes of keywords. (Alan, this is the toilet book.)”

“But,” says Alan, holding the book library book, “This one’s got a cock drawn on it.”

“It shouldn’t have a cock drawn on it! Does it have a cock… (Glynnis, did I say ‘cock’?)” Michael’s walking over to the book library book.

“You said ‘cock’.” Glynnis smiles at the cameraman.

“Shit!”

“You said ‘shit’.” Glynnis frowns at the cameraman.

“Can I say ‘shit?” Alan asks.

“No, you can’t say ‘shit’! Get to the toilet.” Michael turns the book library book face down and strides back to the smartboard to start the video.

“What’s for Golden Time?” pipes up Ursula, a small girl swamped in her Bracewell sweater.

“BeBotBodyPop.” Michael presses play, as Ursula rolls her eyes and puffs out her cheeks.

“When can I say ‘cock’, sir?” asks Alan, returning from the toilet whilst still doing up his flies.

“Watch the video, everyone.” Michael smiles.

“Can Sir Paul McCartney say ‘shit’ and ‘cock’, miss?” asks Ben, creasing the spine of his copybook.

“I expect so, Ben – he’s quite rich.” replies Michael. “And it’s sir.”

“I said Sir, miss.” Ben beams at the cameraman.

“The video’ll start in a mo’.” Michael jabs at the play button on the smartboard screen, whilst Glynnis hands out writing frames to the Happy Table, still engrossed in their iPads.

“How much money do you have to have before you can say ‘cock’?” asks Callum, “Me dad says ‘shit’ and he works at the Co-op.” Callum waits patiently for Michael’s response.

Michael is still jabbing away at the play button to no avail. “Any minute,” he says, and reaches to refresh the screen in the top-left corner.

“Let it be, miss,” says Ben, smiling at the cameraman. “It’s buffering.”

The children, in unison, raise their left palms and each draw a continuous circle in the air.

“Not responding! Not responding!” they chant, like Daleks. And then they burst into peals of laughter.

Michael adjusts his 360-degree-camera helmet chinstrap and looks plaintively to his Lego model classroom.

And Glynnis smiles at me, kindly.

Episode 3: Teacher, Augmented

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