Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Miss, What Does Incomprehensible Mean?

This book was on my list of 'stuff to read this autumn'. I don't know Fran Hill - but she's a close friend of a friend [and then I discovered we had yet another mutual friend on Facebook] Other blogfriends reviewed the book. And then a copy arrived unexpectedly in the post, a surprise gift from somebody else entirely....

It's the diary of a school year, written by an English teacher. She's mid-fifties, menopausal, and wonderfully human. Fran describes beautifully the complexities of juggling teaching, marking, home life, and church activities. 

The majority of my teaching has been in primary schools but I was working in secondary schools up until 1992, [and I have done loads of church youth work with 11-18s as well as some private tutoring] I recognise so many of the situations she describes so accurately...

The added stresses of impending Ofsted, the incessant paperwork, the lesson plans scrapped at the last minute because of Unforeseen Circumstances - and the way that colleagues rally round to support one another in the face of seemingly impossible demands from Senior Management Teams [SMUTS as she calls them]

But Fran also captures brilliantly the unexpected joy of a student suddenly understanding something, the question at the end of the lesson which reveals that they were listening after all, the thoughtful gesture from a friend in the staffroom at the end of a rubbish day which almost reduces you to tears, and the realisation that you will get through the rough moments, because your co-workers are helping in school, your faithful, loving spouse is picking up the slack at home, and in your feeble, doubting moments, someone out there is saying a quiet prayer for you.

There were some definite laugh-out-loud moments, some great jokes and witty puns. Fran is an English teacher herself, so she knows what she is writing about. Unfortunately I am not an English specialist, so couldn't follow a few of the literary references when it came to the newer stuff - but it didn't really matter. And I think even those who haven't spent their working life in the education sector will still appreciate this book.

This book has been published by SPCK, the largest Christian publishing house in the UK. But it is not at all 'preachy'. Yes she talks about going to church events - but that should not deter non Chritstians from reading it [after all, I read books where people attend football matches every Saturday, and I am in no way a sports fanatic] She also deals with honest doubts and difficult emotions, in a way which is quite believable. I think I'd have got on well with "Miss" if we'd met in the staffroom.

Definitely **** Here's a brief clip of Fran herself reading part of Chapter 1

Find out more about Fran, and order your own copy here


  1. Ah, the life of a teacher! My mother was a teacher; she taught for 40 years. Towards the end of her life, when dementia set in and she often forgot her name and age and who I was, she remembered that she had been a teacher. That's how she'd introduce herself to the paramedics and the doctors who attended to her after a fall, a stroke, or some other medical emergency. They'd ask her, "What is your name?" and she'd tell them, "I was a teacher".

    1. That is such a lovely memory - I'm sure she was loved by her pupils, and I know that you learned so much from her yourself.

  2. I'm so pleased you enjoyed it as much as I did. You can get her first book, 'Being Miss' free on Kindle at Amazon.

  3. Wonderful, isn't it? A breath of fresh air as Fran herself is actually! Thanks for reading and reviewing my friend's book. I knew you would love it :)

  4. Sounds fab, putting the world to rights in the staff room is my daily experience, as well as telling every kid that walks through the door that they are an artist. Hopefully they'll start to listen.

  5. It sounds a great book to read!!! I must look out for it!


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