Spare me this double act

21st October 2005 at 01:00
I'm feeling a bit nostalgic for my previous school, when the only times I saw my form were at morning and afternoon registration. There was a policy that you did not teach your form. Seeing each other twice a day was quite enough for me and, I'm convinced, for them. At my new school, it's possible for me to see my Year 10s four times a day: twice for registration, once for English and once for PSHE. Next year they'll get English five times a week and it's possible that two of these lessons will be timetabled for the same day. That means I could see them five times between 8.30am and 4pm. If I end up on lunchtime detention duty, I'll probably see a few of them in there as well. And it won't be a happy reunion.

Over-familiarity isn't the only problem. In English lessons, they try to give me slips about parents' evenings and school outings. In form time, they try to give me their English homework (which of course I take as I may never get the chance again). In PSHE, they pounce on my attempts to get them to read something and accuse me of teaching English by stealth. In English, if we read anything to do with social issues or have a debate, they tell me this is really PSHE and can't we watch the gangsta Romeo and Juliet video again?

When they are in a "resent-the-form-tutor" phase, in English they are truculent and unwilling. When I'm being particularly harsh in English (such as making them do a piece of coursework properly) they refuse to answer their names properly in registration.

At parents' evenings, I'm never sure what to talk about first. Should I start with the shabby uniform or the sloppy presentation of work? Parents seem equally confused. Should they ask about Sam's difficulties in social situations (otherwise called punching people) or his flexible attitude towards English lessons (otherwise called bunking off)?

It all leads me to conclude that this double act of teacherform tutor is too much for one person, especially as I sometimes meet my pupils on the street on my journeys to and from school. That makes a total of eight possible meetings a day. Lord, have mercy.

Pauline Rose is a teacher in Richmond upon Thames. She writes under a pseudonym

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