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Teaching hints

Gerald Haigh on how best to deal with having a bad day.

You get up late. You feel terrible. Everything's going wrong with your life. You won't phone in sick, because then someone else will have to take your class. How do you cope?

* By all means unload to a close colleague, but it's probably best not to make a general announcement of your ennui - the old cliche that there's always somebody worse off is usually true.

* If there's a real personal problem (a bereavement, for example) make time to have a quiet word with your head or head of department.

* If your problem means you need a favour, such as leaving early or havingtime to make phone calls, don't drop vague hints. Ask clearly and unambiguously. It's OK to do this.

* If you are asked to go hme, then go. The person asking is very likely thinking of the children as much as of you. The worst thing is to refuse and then mope around all daylike a martyr.

* If it helps, you can try to plan a day that does not involve a lot of noise. Quiet work from the textbook or the blackboard may be the way to go, but just remember the marking load that you maybe piling up.

* Use your judgment about sharing your problem with the class. Saying "I'm not well, let's try to keep it quiet and calm" will help if you have a good relationship with your pupils, but it can be counterproductive if you don't. (Very youngchildren can be movingly compassionate and solicitous in these circumstances.) The decision is for you to makeand learn from.

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