Am I glam enough to teach?

17th September 2004 at 01:00
On August 31 not only was I 40 years old, but I also began my first year as a newly-qualified teacher, teaching English. I'm expected to achieve at least 84 per cent A*-Cs at GCSE. This is not a private or selective school - just a very good comprehensive with a pretty average intake.

My main worry, however, is not whether I can deal with puritanically pushy parents, disaffected, disruptive kids or teach A-level English language: it's whether I can keep up with the department's "tasty teachers".

At my interview for the job I felt like a visiting fan on the set of the television show Friends. Every female teacher was an understudy for Rachel or Monica, and every male was better looking than Ross, Chandler or Joey.

After a tour of the school, the first thing I did was to apply extra lipstick and the second was to teach poetry to a Year 10 class.

I chose Simon Armitage's Kid, which is written from a vengeful Robin's point of view in the famous Batman and Robin duet. This is a great poem for grabbing the attention of 14-year-olds or if you're trying to make an impact with an interview panel I've also discovered a new technique for dealing with pupils breaking the rules by not wearing a name sticker: (a) Ask them for an example of alliteration; (b) stare at them intently. Then (c) they realise you are a teacher not to be messed with and (d) they submit a suitable response.

Well, that's the theory.

Fine, except when the person you've collared happened not to be a pupil but a particularly young and fit advanced skills teacher. Hey, it was the end of the lesson.

I consoled myself that I could bow out of the job with style and a joke about great skin cream. I also told myself that there were plenty of other jobs in the Midlands and, for that matter, I wouldn't mind a spot of Voluntary Service Overseas.

Fortunately the staff had a sense of humour and offered me a job anyway.

I'm now fully installed in the staffroom with my own desk and a priceless view of Ross, Chandler and Joey.

I'm really looking forward to this induction year of teaching; it's just a shame that my priorities will have to veer towards Top Shop and the gym rather than preparing lessons.

Still, I'm probably more likely to achieve that 84 per cent target if I dress the part when teaching The Taming of the Shrew or The Wife of Bath.

Now, where are my hair straighteners and that vampish lipstick?

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