You’re feeling pretty smug. You’re walking to work, sipping coffee from a reusable cup, carrying your marking in your canvas Penguin tote (thus signalling that you are an intellectual and environmentally-aware consumer). Greta Thunberg would be proud.
Then suddenly the heavens open, there’s no umbrella in sight and your tote is not proving to be so great after all. You arrive at school with a bag full of soaking wet marking.
What do you do next?
Divide and conquer
If your papers are completely drenched, don’t prise them apart straight away – wait until they are damp. Then cover a suitable flat surface with some absorbent paper (such as paper towels) and spread your sorry-looking marking out across it.
If the absorbent paper becomes soggy, replace it with some fresh paper. If it’s books that have taken a soaking, then do the same, separating them out from one another.
If you can, find a room with good air circulation. The National Archives say you can use a fan to aid the drying process, but ensure that the air flow is directed away from papers/books. Also make sure any loose papers are weighted down, so anyone walking into the room doesn’t suddenly feel like they’ve been propelled back in time to play "Grab a Grand" on Noel’s House Party.
Dab excess water using a towel (if you can get your hands on one) or white toilet tissue. Avoid using anything that could transfer dye. To remedy any soggy books, you could recruit the assistance of some young helpers to separate each page of the book with a tissue or dry paper (but this is not very environmentally friendly).
If you’ve got a tonne of marking (hello, English teachers) that’s been given an unexpected shower, then just pop them in the vacuum freeze-drying chamber.
What’s that? Your school doesn’t have a vacuum freeze-drying chamber? That’s probably another thing we can thank Gove for.
In that case, just put them in a handy zip lock bag and pop them in a regular freezer – I’m sure the kitchen staff won’t mind.
If you only have a few sodden pages, then to prevent them from warping when drying, put each sheet between two pages of absorbent paper and apply pressure evenly, using something heavy (like textbooks).
Failing all of that, be prepared to apologise to your class(es). In a way, it is a good life lesson for them. They need to know that teachers aren’t infallible, and that nobody is perfect. Yes, that’s right, even those of us with a canvas tote have our shortcomings.
Gemma Corby is a freelance writer and former special educational needs and disability coordinator