Police, plumbers and performing pupils

26th March 2004 at 00:00
A scale of one to 10 doesn't include the sort of day I've just experienced.

"Give me a smile," says Jane our admin manager as I walk in the building, "then I can have the pleasure of taking it off your face. Ray's not coming in today." High on nuisance value but not the end of the world. "I'll take his maths timetable," I tell her. "And the phone's not working," she adds.

"I poured coffee over it." To prove her wrong, it rings; she answers it.

During period two, Jane rushes into the room I'm teaching in. "Can you come out for a moment?" she asks. In the main entrance, two students have two members of staff pinned in a corner and are threatening to beat them up and set their hair on fire with a cigarette lighter. The police are called and attend very quickly (phone still working).

We stagger out for break. There is much turmoil among the kids with rumours of who's done what to whom. There's also much chanting about the police.

After break, a visiting head sits in on my lesson; he's at the unit to look at teaching and learning. Aaron decides that this is the right time to show how he can fly and jumps off a chair, aided by Robert. While I settle the rest, Aaron continues to demonstrate until I usher him to the time-out zone. Not to be outdone, he runs along the corridor, jumps on a pipe and sends a column of steaming water spraying everywhere. Like the Dutch boy, I attempt to stop the flow.

Meanwhile, my learning support assistant continues with the work. Order is restored and the lesson continues. Sasha goes to the toilet and returns without her sweater and with her shirt undone. Jordan she ain't, and neither I nor the boys make any comment about her attempted display. At lunchtime the plumber appears to sort out the pipes (phone still working).

Visiting head suggests debriefing. I suggest lunch, but don't get any.

At the end of the afternoon's teaching, Jane has a list of calls for me to respond to. One is from a colleague asking about the funding for his tutor who works with one of our students. It's a joint placement demanded by the authority. I suggest he pass the question up the line to our joint manager.

Visiting head has left a lesson observation report. He thinks I might have started with some shared work and wonders why I didn't conclude with a plenary activity. No reference to Aaron's flight, the fountain, or Sasha's striptease. I wonder what he's been observing and where behaviour management comes on his priority list.

As I contemplate my response, Eric breezes into the staffroom demanding behaviour scores for the students I've worked with today from his tutor group. At that moment I realise who was not around while staff were assaulted, the fountain gushed, or I negotiated with the plumbers. Funny how some people always manage to keep their heads down.

The writer manages a PRU in south-east England and wishes to remain anonymous

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