Sing when you're winning at the start of term

12th September 2008 at 01:00
As we plunge off the shining cliffs of summer into the choppy seas of school, two questions hurtle towards us: how do we not drown? And how do we keep that summer-fun feeling when the days shorten and the marking mounts?

Songs can help. Think of those happy hours in the sunshine, floating away with your iPod. Why not stock up now on music that helps you "to keep on keepin' on", as Bob Dylan sings? There is a song for every crisis in a teacher's day, starting with registration - She's Not There by the Zombies. So here is your musical survival guide to the term ahead.

I Will Survive sung by Gloria Gaynor will help when you can't find the free periods in your new timetable.

You could reach for Don't Panic by Coldplay. But you might not want to hear someone singing "all of us are done for". Also, this song was originally called Panic. So play Help! by the Beatles instead.

Then play Leader of the Pack by the Shangri-Las and look for the toughest teacher in the school to ask for their advice.

Nobody Does It Better sung by Carly Simon should be the soundtrack to your shameless flattery of this useful person. Ask them how they control Cruncher Stevens so amazingly. Take notes, then play Every Breath You Take sung by Sting: "Every step you take, I'll be watching you." Don't let that class forget it.

The trouble is, you are also being watched. You Don't Own Me sung by the Blow Monkeys is a good one for performance management. I Want To Break Free by Queen helps in long meetings. If you start moaning it out loud and swaying from side to side, they might even come to take you away. Result.

When an inspector calls, you will need Elvis singing Suspicious Minds. Follow the inspector around singing this song to distract him or her from their note-taking. If they give you nasty feedback, you could play Mercy by Duffy. But you would feel better chasing them into the car park with There's No Home For You Here by the White Stripes.

Pushy parents can be set straight with You Can't Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones. Then put your feet up on the desk and play them Kooks by David Bowie: "If the homework brings you downThen we'll throw it on the fire and take the car downtown ." Priceless.

On Fridays, play I'm Still Standing by Elton John after your first pint, then Free Falling by Tom Petty after your third. Finally, mellow out to Louis Armstrong singing What a Wonderful World: "I watch them grow - they'll learn much more than I'll ever knowAnd I think to myself, what a wonderful world." That song could cheer up a tired teacher at any stage of the term.

One song you might want to avoid is Mad World by Tears For Fears. "Went to school and I was very nervous . worn out faces . no tomorrow . going nowhere ."

Well, don't say I didn't warn you.

Catherine Paver, Writer and part-time English teacher.

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