MONDAY 7GA have been telling me about their holidays, and Sarah's excited about a place where there were "bowels of Haribo sweets". She means barrels. They ask me questions about my age and other disabilities. Danny looks shocked: "You don't look tall enough to be 57." We speculate on the height of ceiling needed if I'd maintained the same rate of growth I enjoyed in my first 17 years. Meanwhile Kyle has got dog dirt on his exercise book from a ruler he's retrieved from under his desk with a soiled shoe.
TUESDAY In Year 9 registration I do my party trick, catching a wasp in a handkerchief and letting it fly free out of the window. It makes me feel I can cope. Ahmed watches: "You're very kind, sir." "No point killing things unnecessarily," I say, thinking I could have put that better. I'd like to open up a debate about "necessary" killing, but we have targets to meet.
WEDNESDAY Who? What? Where? Room 6 with 7GA. We're pushing on with a starter: words beginning with "wh". "When, why, whether." "Excellent," I say, "Hussain?" "WHSmiths." Next, it's Roger McGough's Rabbit in a Mixer. I explain that McGough was inspired to write a poem after reading a newspaper story about a rabbit surviving a fall into a cement mixer. They're not impressed. "He must be thick."
THURSDAY I've taken over a Year 11 class, but Priestley's Inspector is calling for the 25th time so preparation shouldn't be taxing. As I hand out playscripts, Grace has a problem: "I'm not moving." Ignore her. "You're not shifting me from here." Ignore her. It's her first visit to school this term and I don't want to put her off. "I'm going to walk out if you tell me to move." Time to speak. "Grace, have I asked you to move?" "I'm just saying if you did tell me to, I wouldn't." Period 2: 7GA. "Ea" words today.
"Each", "beneath", "eat". But Hussain's mind is still on shopping: "IKEA."
Danny's got over my lack of height, but pondering another problem. "Do all Afro-Caribbeans come from the Caribbean?" "Yes". He's puzzled. "But people from the Caribbean don't all have Afros."
Friday Lunchtime. I help Ahmed with homework he hasn't done. He tells me I'm kind. By the end of lunch he's outside the head's office after pinning a boy's arms behind him while a friend thumped him in the stomach. By the end of the day Ahmed has been excluded. At 3.40 I go to my room to collect weekend marking. Not everyone has left. An RE lesson about whether killing is ever justified has left the RE teacher eyeball-to-eyeball with a familiar figure on the second row. Grace isn't moving, but I'm going home.
David Buckley is an English teacher in Sheffield