Thank God It's Friday

11th April 1997 at 01:00
Monday: A party of German students is arriving today on a choir exchange trip. Three hours late, two teenage boys and a teacher greet me with the news that one is a vegetarian. So, alongside the gammon in cider, I hastily plonk a lump of Cheddar cheese and we sit down to dinner.

Later, I'm handed a bottle of champagne and asked to put it in the fridge. Before I can show my appreciation, Friedrich announces that it is to celebrate his friend's 18th birthday at midnight. After a day teaching the ancient Greeks I wonder if I will last that long.

Tuesday: The telephone rings at 5.45am and a German voice requests to speak to his son to wish him a happy birthday. I explain that Thomas is still asleep. He had forgotten about the hour's difference and promises to ring again at 7.30am. I get up anyway and start preparing six packed lunches.

When I arrive at school the head looks grim: the budget has arrived. A question mark hangs over my future and I spend the day worrying if I will be made redundant, again. The evening is spent watching an unedited video of the German teacher's journey to England - several hours' footage of the view through a coach window, mostly in the dark.

Wednesday: After a 45-mile round trip to drop the students at their meeting place, I arrive at school alert and ready to do battle at the Pass of Thermopylae. By breaktime however I'm beginning to understand how Pheidippides felt after running 42.186 km from the plain of Marathon to Athens.

At 5pm I am supposed to be in three places at once. I have to choose between Evensong at the cathedral where my son is singing in a special service with 150 other choristers, collecting the German students or running my other son to his cello lesson. The cathedral service wins.

Thursday: Discover that the "vegetarian" isn't really. A number of students had ticked the box on their residence form because of the British beef scare.

A successful three-hour parents' evening at the end of the day gives me a boost and makes me feel that I must be doing something right.

Friday: The German students attend a reception at County Hall and we suggest they clinch more funding for county music.

At school I am grateful for The Odyssey on video to fill the final lesson in the afternoon while I mark assessments on this unit of the ancient Greeks.

The choir tour comes to an end tonight after a joint concert with our own County Youth Choir. There is a wonderful atmosphere and real enjoyment shows on the faces of the singers. New friendships have been established and I feel proud of our young people and their achievements.

Sharon Taylor is a Year 6 teacher at Fairlands Middle School, Cheddar, Somerset

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