Thank God its Friday

17th November 1995 at 00:00
Monday: Monday is the cruellest day, breeding hangovers out of the weekend ... who needs to live The Wasteland when you can have the real thing for no extra effort? Mine is a landscape of half-planned meetings and walking lunches, decisions on the hoof and lessons off the cuff. I'd even try for a rabbit out of a hat if pushed. We sit down as a department after school to watch the latest video nasty from the examining board (The 1995 Oral Standardisation Tape). Fifteen indecipherable grunts later we switch off in angry futility.

Tuesday: I forgot a lesson today; never even knew until a smirky sixth-former quipped: "Oh, so you're in are you?" When it clicked I was deeply troubled. Was this the first time I had done this? Perhaps there were others; whole classes I had not turned up to. I sprint to my Year 7 lesson and stand breathless at the door, raking their faces with mad eyes: "Thank God it's you," I say, "you don't know how glad I am to see you."

Wednesday: Back into routine, at least today I know where I am going: into the cosmos with Year 10. Deep in this primordial chaos, words discover a new universe of meaning: "Stand still", they run around; "listen carefully", they scream and shout; "Look at the board", and they look at each other with elbow nudges and grimaces. Yet madly, confusing as it is, I've been to this cosmos before and I know what to do. It's the madness on the other side of the classroom door that really sends me into orbit.

Thursday: I take a trip out to visit a Year 11 student on work experience. Stephen is working as a teacher's assistant in an infant school and I catch him chucking Milky Ways to a reception class like bread scraps for gulls. "They love 'em," he says with a gap-toothed grin. And they love him as they hold out their sticky hands for more. "He's brilliant," says his supervisor and I can see it's true. He makes me a mug of tea and as we chat, adult to adult almost, I feel something's not quite right yet with key stage 4.

Friday: The Sixth Form have been locked out of their common room today as punishment for leaving it in a terrible mess yesterday. There is the smell of rebellion in the air. A few malcontents have chalked out a simulated version of their common room in a paved courtyard and pretend to watch TV and make tea. Unreal. I must teach this lot last two periods! Their humour cheers me and as the weekend comes into view, I know this has been no wasteland - thanks to the people I live and work with.

Martin Reynolds teaches English in St Helens

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