Thank God it's Friday

8th September 2000 at 01:00
Monday I'm apprehensive. After five years of ruling the roost at my school, sorry, my old school, I decided I needed new challenges. Tomorrow I start at my new school. No longer will I be Finnemore, Terror of the Year 7s, a friendly teacher in need and star of the school production, but "that new bloke in the maths department". And it's not made easier when Jonesey phones up to wish me good luck and then says, "You'll be missed here". Prefer it if he'd said, "We're all glad you buggered off".

Tuesday The whole school staff meeting is held first thing. The new teacher must be careful when introduced. Too casual will translate as arrogant, too timid will make them think the village idiot has walked in. I manage a dismissive wave and a croaked "hi", combining both characteristics in one fell swoop. Great.

Wednesday I meet my form. It sounds lovely to be given a Year 7 class as a tutor but you must remember one thing: little Suzie, Wysan, Lauren et al, will ask loads of questions, ranging from "Where is room 25?" to "Am I allowed to ue a blue Biroon a Tuesday afternoon if it's raining?"Being a new teacher, you will not knowthe answer. But there is one stockanswer: "if I tell you, you'll only forget again. Best you find out for yourselfand then you'll remember it."

Thursday I want to make a good impression and so I can sense the disappointment in 10 Austin when I misspell my name on the board. I can tell from the look in young Josephine's eyes that she's wondering if I've ever done this before. The situation is not helped when I reach the end of the lesson and then realise that I'm still working on my old school times and there are 15 minutes left.

Friday I am still at the stage where I feel uncomfortable in the staffroom (scared to sit on a chair in case it's old Mr Pugh's who has used it for the past 25 years), but I feel that I'm starting to fit in. I finally know that I've broken through the newness barrier when Mr Sieveright gives me the universal "Coming down the pub?" sign.

Mark Finnemore teaches at Coombe girls school, New Malden, Surrey

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