Thank God it's Friday

20th March 1998 at 00:00
Monday I'm the special needs co-ordinator, so it falls to me to support Year 10 in English. So here we are, the deputy head and me, with our considerable experience and a glue stick at the ready.

The topic is on newspapers and our clientele are relatively docile and receptive. Broadsheet or tabloid? Advert or editorial? Cutting and pasting our own front pages engages most of them but confuses one who just cannot make his jigsaw puzzle fit and ends up with a story about an earthquake headlined "Neighbours star in drugs probe".

Tuesday My own Year 8 form for PSE and a drugs module. How they manage to hijack my lesson and debate the rights and wrongs of our full attendance chart is beyond me. But they are so skilful at diversionary tactics that I inwardly applaud their invention.

I am rewarded for my tolerance by a timely visit from the head who hears an impressive soundbite. It centres around my alleged favouritism of two girls who apparently get all the perks - I actually give them a petty job colouring in the attendance wall chart.

But the class is debating the issue. "Such mature discussion - such properly expressed views," the head comments. The protagonists smile at me, and in a pathetic attempt to re-gain lost ground, I remind them about the parents' evening being held tonight.

Wednesday Shattered after the night before, I have to teach the next stage of a structured spelling programme to a volative Year 7 group. Barely keeping my concentration I am startled to hear the end of a comment which I hope was "You mustn't leave the 'f' off." Year 8 geography support involves weather, more newspapers and looking out of the window to determine current wind direction. Sally is well ahead of us, having been staring out of said window since the beginning of the lesson.

A new girl has joined the class and is quick to ask the classic question of a support teacher - "Are you a proper teacher?" To which there is but one reply: "Are you a proper student?" THURSday Maths, Year 7, and I support a colleague and fellow Coventry City supporter who not only has impeccable classroom control but mercilessly taunts me about my greying hair and the one-month age difference in his favour.

After recently successful results we use our team to illustrate sequences, tally charts, goal difference ratios and percentage crowd increases. Then we turn round and talk to the children.

Later I discover that one of our more challenging boys has circumvented the newly-installed security fencing by sliding and squirming under the railings - which must have a clearance of about six inches. He's small and malnourished but I never thought he was an invertebrate. After his escape attempt, he's also dusty, dirty and ragged.

Friday Two non-contact lesson periods today to catch up on reviews for my special needs students; telephone calls; that much-postponed discussion with a fellow SENCO about that important LEA initiative; and to jettison paperwork that has been obscuring my view of the world for weeks. But we have six staff illnesses on top of the expected absences. Goodbye admin time. Hello Year 9 music.

Derek Raishbrook teaches in a Midlands comprehensive

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