Thank God it's Friday

26th November 2004 at 00:00
Monday It's been a difficult day in my new teaching post. I don't know who anyone is, where anything is or what anything means. I get lost in corridors and have to try to look as though I intended to be where I am, telling a few kids off for uniform offences just to help my confidence.

Then, after staying late to plan lessons, I get locked inside the school and escape only because a door has been left open by mistake. Tomorrow I'll bring a sleeping bag.

Tuesday I arrive early to re-prepare the lessons I prepared yesterday but re-thought at 3am, but can't get into my classroom because it's locked. I wander more corridors looking for people with keys, but no one's in yet. I trudge over to the staffroom and pretend that's where I meant to be anyway.

Wednesday It's a long way from the staffroom to my classroom.

Carrying a mug of tea, planner, photocopying, handbag and a set of exercise books makes it seem even further. I try several routes to find the shortest one. The experiment works, and I cut the journey down to 75 seconds, spilling only half the tea on the newly laid carpets. I'm proud of my achievement.

Thursday I try to find room 23, where I'm supposed to be running a detention session. I climb up and down several staircases leading to the second floor and find rooms 24 and 26. When I turn up late to the detention, sweating and flustered, no one is there. I sit for a while in detention, then let myself go early. I need the extra time to find my way to lunch.

Friday Year 7s keep asking me where the science lab and art block and special needs departments are. They thrust their maps into my hands and look trustingly into my eyes. How can I tell them I'm special needs myself when it comes to maps? I give them vague directions then hide behind the filing cabinet in case they come back. Apparently, there's a man in an office somewhere who will give me a classroom key, so I roam more corridors looking for him. I don't find him, but at least I'm starting to recognise some of the corridors.

Pauline Rose is an English teacher in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames. She writes under a pseudonym

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