Plain English, travelling and Miss J A Bocking: number 1 teacher

People always talk about that teacher…  That special person who steered us through one or two of our tender, informative school years and whose name remains forever in our minds.

In my case it was Miss Jennifer Bocking. A truly lovely woman whose traditional teaching skills and sense of fairness gave us ten-year-olds a good grounding in some of the behavioural techniques we’ve taken forward into adult – and business – lives.

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A dozen of my Facebook friends are in this pic – strong friendships for almost 40 years

No one was ever in trouble.  Naughty children were taught why their actions were unacceptable and shown strategies to improve and build relationships with others.  Those who couldn’t cope well with academic subjects were encouraged in arts and sports.  Anyone with only a few friends was drawn in to groups, by the whole class being subtly taught inclusive behaviour.  Everyone was made to feel special… and valued.

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Zara, Miss Bocking, me and Simon

I believe that Miss Bocking taught in our suburban primary school for a couple of decades.  So, when someone suggested on Facebook that we hold a school reunion for all her pupils, with Jenny (if we’re allowed to call her that now?!) as guest of honour, loads of people yelled “Yesss!” Some are planning to travel from their homes abroad for the simple reason of spending one more afternoon with this amazing lady.

How many of us can boast that we inspire generations?

The reunion is scheduled for early June.  Between then and now I’ll be away more than I’m home, travelling the country from Edinburgh down to Winchester in a quest to spread the word on plain English as the key to good business communications.

Social media training has been my focus for the last three years, so it’s nice to return to my roots and train in de-jargoning, anti-abbreviating and chopping out the superfluous waffle.  I’ve also had an influx of documents to edit, to make sure they’re well elucidated.  I know – that’s not a plain English word, but Katja’s putting on an exhibition of our favourite words, and that’s one of mine! To be clear, it means clear… and I didn’t learn that at school – only when I was doing my degree – and then I had to ask the teacher 🙂

I can’t tell the story of the day I worked with Bob Geldof again… so I’ll just say that this was one of his finest musical moments.  “All the playing’s stopped in the playground now, she wants to play with her toys a while.  And school’s out early and soon we’ll be learning, and the lesson today is…”  You know the rest.

My two years in Miss Bocking’s class were possibly the only two that I didn’t bunk off school or have a pretend stomach ache (although I did suffer from genuine migraines).  I never hated school enough to shoot anyone to get the day off, but I didn’t like it.  Apart from those two years in Jenny’s class – they were fab!! So thank you for that, Miss J. A. Bocking!

At least I don’t bunk off work.  Wherever I am in the country, you can always find me here: @WeekendWitch.


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