Thank God it's Friday

25th July 1997 at 01:00
Monday: I can't believe I've nearly done a year. A whole year of standing at this bus stop at 7.15am. Three other women travel with me on the 56A and we've found out quite a lot about each other over the past three terms. They are my secret support network.

Our first major concern is whether or not the bus will show up. I have to catch a second bus, and as my 56A draws up I see the 4 waiting patiently. A couple of Year 8 girls have persuaded the driver to hang on for me. I must remember to give them credits.

Tuesday: It is very hot today and a double lesson resembles the London Marathon. I sit in front of a Year 10 class who are drafting essays about Malvolio and stare at my pile of marking. There is something daunting about 45 almost identical exam papers. "I wouldn't be a teacher for anything, Miss, " says one sympathetic member of the class. I resume the work with new vigour.

Wednesday: I teach RE to a class of 12-year-olds on Wednesdays. This used to be one of my favourite lessons but I have spent the past two weeks vying with a moody video player and trying to show them a tape about Hindu life. It functions perfectly well for everybody else. Today Miss Clark has pity and comes into my room, puts the video into the machine and turns it on. The tape needs rewinding but there is a definite picture on screen. When I try to stop the tape at the right place, it continues to rewind. I press buttons frantically as the Hindus vanish, quickly followed by Muslims and Sikhs. I send a runner for Miss Clark who can't be found. I send another runner to the RE department for a worksheet.

Thursday: Today it's invigilation and learning the mysterious art of pacing the exam hall. If I walk from front to back, somebody else has to walk from back to front. If I walk from back to front they have to move back again to keep the balance. I'm tempted to weave in and out of the desks in the middle but I suspect this would wreck the whole system.

Besides, today I am on with a brisk pacer who is already heading back to my end. I have to keep my wits about me.

Friday: Year 8 RE again. Today I give up on the video and use books to discuss Hindu deities. One of the gods is described as being in a "meditative" pose. The class don't understand what this means so I demonstrate the lotus position on the front desk. Later, my colleagues dare me to do it again in the staffroom.

I manage to catch the right buses on time tonight, and walk home swinging my bag happily. This isn't such a bad job after all.

Susannah White teaches English and RE at Regents Park Secondary School, Southampton.

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