“I’ve lost my voice” I wrote on the board. The class cheered. I changed it to “I’ve nearly lost my voice” to a chorus of boos. I’m going to miss my class. “You don’t have enough money so you’re not coming in” was one child’s honest appraisal of today’s strike, I caught another playing a game called “Whack my Ex” during an ICT lesson. They are, what some might call, “characters”.
As I stood waiting for the bus for my first teaching interview, bird shit narrowly missed my dry cleaned suit. Now most would think “I’m going to be lucky today” whereas I think “that is my one piece of good luck today it’s going to be a god-awful day now”. A sign outside the school reminding parents that the “spitting of tobacco paan is unhygienic” and the network being down, further cemented the feeling in the pit of my gut. Then I surprised myself by turning out a semi-improvised lesson that the kids went for and got me the job.
Now I had only to help out with sports day at my current school and my time on the course was over. The PE teacher briefed the school of the day’s events. As a mothership of modesty, he also took the opportunity to ask a child whose life he saved four years ago, to recount in detail exactly how it happened.
We were eventually underway and with no assigned job I sat with the kids picked last. I couldn’t relax though. The SEN children had been given the role of litter grabbers and were wielding their claws a little too close to my genitals.
One child told me he only liked “bum wrestling”. My first instinct was this involved packs of kids attacking the homeless. I was relieved to find out it was two kids going back to back and pushing each other out of a circle.
As the day ended I remembered the thermos flask hidden at the back of the staff room cupboard. I spied it on my first day and made a mental note that should it still be there at the end of my placement I would take it. I shoved it into my bag before meeting up with some teachers to get some last-minute tips and advice.
Returning to the classroom I noticed the most rancid of smells. I checked the contents of my bag to discover why the flask was not in use. It leaked. It also, much to my shock, contained putrefied milk and the class were due back in ten minutes.
I chucked the thermos, chucked the bag, rushed to the kitchen, grabbed disinfectant and headed back to the classroom. I scrubbed the area as best I could and convinced myself I would get away with it. Returning from the kitchen to class, every child had their jumper pulled up over their face, some were choking, a few dry heaving. “I must have missed a bit” I said with a smile. If looks could kill.
“At least they won’t forget me in a hurry” I thought, although it did mute the presentation of my leaving card somewhat. There was one comment I treasured above all others. It was a simple ‘thank you’ from a boy who was bullied. I had spent weeks telling him what a great kid he was and getting better each time at stopping just before the point he burst into tears.
By September I will be a teacher with my classroom, my own children and my own thermos flask. That will feel like an odd thought for some time.