Thank God it's Friday

Helen McNulty

Monday: Teaching is a matter of expecting the unexpected, and as a supply teacher this is doubly true. Today's school is many miles from home and, ever wary of transport problems that might lead to lateness and panic, I leave so early that I arrive at school second only to the caretaker. Still, it gives me ample time to set up, feeling calm and relaxed. This feeling lasts until the Year 4s troop in and I am informed that the teaching assistant is absent.

Tuesday: Today I'm at one school in the morning, and another after lunch.

The schools are not even close, so I spend my lunch hour on the train. I eat my sandwiches in transit. For some reason, this earns me a few odd looks from fellow passengers. Perhaps they think I'm some sort of bag lady.

Given that I have a rucksack and a couple of bulging carriers containing resources for the day, it's a reasonable supposition.

Wednesday: A school for pupils with moderate learning difficulties, teaching a small class of juniors. We seem to be getting along nicely, but one pupil is absent, on a medical appointment. "Wait till Mark comes, Miss," I am told. "It won't be so quiet then." Mark arrives later and, to my surprise, behaves like a model pupil. It turns out that he has just been put on new medication.

Thursday: I'm teaching Year 3 at a Catholic primary school. The head wonders if I feel confident about teaching RE as it is part of their preparation for first communion. He offers me the choice of swapping with another teacher just for this lesson: I could take Year 6 drama instead. I hastily assure him that I have the Catholic teachers' certificate and so will stick with Year 3 (the last time I took Year 6 drama, they wanted to re-enact Reservoir Dogs).

Friday: Today's school is a stone's throw from home, so I can have what counts as a lie-in, setting off at 8.20. A nice class and an uneventful day, until hometime, when one pupil suddenly announces: "I've seen you going to the pub." I can feel all eyes on me. Going to the pub right now feels like a very good idea.

Helen McNulty is a supply teacher in Lancashire. If you have a diary to share (no more than 450 words), write to TES Friday, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX or email We pay for every article we publish

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Helen McNulty

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