Thank God it's Friday

14th March 2003 at 00:00
Monday The pavements are tracks in the snow, but I can gloat as I've moved to a school so close to home I can watch the sports teams practise from my window. For the previous two years, I drove 100 miles a day and, though petrol only costs 25p a litre here in Ontario, the routine became wearisome. During winter, the highways are littered with overturned cars and jack-knifed trucks.

Tuesday My new school's winter uniform includes dark blue Victor Meldrew-style cardigans with the school crest on the front. I sympathise with the few who try to get away with hoodies and tracksuit tops, but I nevertheless hear my teacher voice telling them they'll just have to be cold. Or buy a silly cardie.

Wednesday The junior boys' American football team doesn't have such a problem. The squad members wear their garnet and gold team shirts to class because it's match day. I decide not to stay for the after-school showdown as I have a stack of marking. But I can still hear the whistles and yells from my flat and take the odd peek out of the window.

Thursday Our parents' night starts straight after school. I realise how lucky I am when most of the discussions only last a couple of minutes. It doesn't take long to say, "Your child is hardworking and a pleasure to teach", so this frees up time to discuss my curious Englishness. Parents want to know how long I've been here and why I came. They also want to know if I've met their cousin Gladys who lives in Hartlepool.

Friday A colleague reports that, back home, Tony's government is planning to give teachers 10 per cent of their school time to plan and administrate.

Here we get 25 per cent, or 72 minutes, a day. Despite the freaky climate and the dodgy fashion, I'm better off where I am.

Nicholas Woolley teaches English and law in Ontario, Canada

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