Thank God it's Friday

2nd May 2003 at 01:00
Monday Tutors, mentors and other teachers are all telling me to get mean. But I can't. I don't look mean, I don't sound mean and I can't act mean. So, the classes just keep on talking. One boy yells at me above the Year 10 chaos: "Miss, I'm not telling you how to do your job, but you're going to have to shout."

Tuesday The noise continues. Most of my Year 8 class perform a miracle, producing three pages of written work without pausing for breath. They happily discuss football, the war, Mr Grant's science homework, last night's TV and Brian's Friday detention while answering comprehension questions. My interventions produce a few raised eyebrows (what's she going on about?), but no drop in the noise level.

Wednesday I feel confident today that I will stay in control. After all, I'm a proper teacher now, am I not, having got a class to write three pages? Ten minutes into "persuasive speeches" with Year 9 and it all goes to pot.

Thursday I take the bus to school with 1,000 schoolboys. The noise level is incredible; the kind that makes your ears buzz when it's gone. A smart woman steps on for a quiet ride into the office and, as the noise hits, her eyes widen in shock. Hmm, I think. A few days in my classes and you'd hardly notice this.

Friday An experienced male teacher comes in to observe me. Sometimes it takes 15 minutes to complete the register with this Year 10 class; call a name, wait for calm, call another nameI Today, silence. It's sobering to see what a difference his presence makes. I teach, uninterrupted, for a whole hour. I talk, they listen. I write on the board, they copy. I instruct, they write. I'm so bored I want to scream: "For heaven's sake, talk to me!"

Fran Hill is studying for a PGCE in secondary English at Brunel University

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