The Man With No Shadow

There comes a time in every man’s life when you need to take stock and realise you’re having a meeting with two adults about which colour pen to use for marking. It didn’t end there. The pious, irritant of a learning mentor was describing how a non-English speaking member of the class couldn’t access the learning. “Maybe I should take a crash course in speaking Farsi?” I wanted to suggest. She reminds me of the people who will hysterically scream “Won’t somebody please think of the children?” and yet would never be a class teacher as it looks too much like hard work.

For the second year in a row, I’m saddled with the class nobody wanted. The school called a ‘just popping our head around the door, you won’t even know we’re there honest, informal observation” and boy, did my class take the opportunity to show their truest colours. There was none of the ‘lets make an effort for the Head Teacher’ they ripped up the copy book and collectively shat on it.

One child in particular (imagine the Tasmanian devil having overdosed on hallucinogenics and then stubbed his toe), excelled. The Head Teacher ended up chaperoning him around the classroom, to my internal and eternal amusement. My instructions at the start of term were simply to ‘keep him in the class’ and to my credit he hasn’t yet been able to work out the code to open the fire exit door.

As the dust settled and the initially concerned faces turned to more sympathetic ones, I began to think the school was perhaps not as bad as I first thought. Ok, so I have to permanently wear a radio mic for the deaf child, which means if I forgot to turn it off he hears my break time piss and I am the only male teacher, but as I stood in assembly watching the women from the local Dance Academy I reminded myself of why I chose this profession in the first place.

There is also the promise of stories such as the two kids in my class who are the same age and yet one is the aunt the other (a colleague had to put this into diagrammatic form for me and I still didn’t get it) and the parent who asked me if there was a dead child in my class.

During a lesson a neighbouring teacher had wandered past with a model skeleton. The confusion to a young child is clear. The confusion to a parent is less so. It’s always with hindsight that you think of the best responses “oh so you didn’t get the letter asking your child to attend our live class autopsy?” or “Dead? oh I thought he was just really quiet”.

The day ended with pox or nits or both rampaging through the school. “Have you noticed a rash?” asked the Head Teacher. I declared I hadn’t the last time I checked and thanked her for raising it now rather than in the interview. It also ended with another holier than thou setting my teeth on edge.

There comes a time in every man’s life when you need to take stock and realise that an adult is seriously suggesting you help a lazy bastard child in your class by “planning, building and carrying out a short obstacle course using old cushions as stepping-stones for example, you could together commando crawl under chairs, climb in and out of cupboard boxes, crawl through a tunnel, jump and heavily march on the spot!”.

I preferred option B which was to “give the child an occasional moving break”. I’m only to happy to do this. I just need enough space for the run up.

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