A day of unrelieved baby sitting lightened only by a casual discussion of medical ethics in one sixth form chemistry class – otherwise, I have been sitting on an extraordinarily uncomfortable chair, watching kids generally get on with the work that they have been set.
This tedium has however been very good for my OU studies and I have been making notes about Buddhism and John Donne as though I have never heard of either. My high and mighty attitude is not entirely justified as I have actually been learning things about the life of John Donne (which I probably should have known) and about the Metta Sutta (which I probably have been told about at some point in the past but which I have totally forgotten) and other bits and pieces which add to the jollity of nations and make me feel happier as it certainly makes the day worth while. And I have ten sides of notes and various flashes of fluorescent yellow highlighting to show that I have been busy.
I do not think I can take much more of this though and I am constantly telling myself that there are only three more days and then I get my papers and I begin the bureaucratic rigmarole of getting my details on various governmental computers all over again, again – but this time with more satisfactory results I trust!
In theory my timetable tomorrow should include some free periods, but if I were in charge of cover I would work the supply teacher for the whole of the day without breaks. After all the supply teacher does no preparation, does no marking, does not have a form class and usually does not do any extra duties. As the art teacher is also absent I think it highly unlikely that my timetable will have any gaps. Indeed, if it does have gaps then I should, in all conscience, offer to take the place of a full-time teacher who has been asked to give up a hard won free period. We shall see, there is only so much Christ-like giving of myself that I can do in one week.
I am still living in the warm glow of appreciation from colleagues that comes with offering to take the place of a teacher doing supervision in the so-called “study area” for the sixth form during one of my “free” periods. From the look of disbelief on the face of the teacher I feel that such a gesture will live on in the mythology of the school for generations to come!
The school is Doing Something for Save the Children: a sponsored walk, crawl or run in which even the three year-olds are taking part. Although I will not be teaching in the school when this event happens it is too good an opportunity to pass by for getting rid of the so-called Oxfam money that is in the 5L plastic jar in the kitchen. At last it can go to an “acceptable” charity – even if it isn’t my charity of choice, Oxfam.
I am keeping up my swimming after school (as in the old days) and am feeling better for it – in spite of the fact that I am usually surrounded by hordes of small people splashing their excited way along in parallel lanes. I am (apart of course from the monitors) the only human swimming up and down with the monotonous regularity that I find invigorating and highly satisfactory for the twenty minutes that is my limit before terminal boredom sets in.
Yesterday I was totally wacked when I finally got home and gazed for the first time on the Tea Room Annexe in all its glory. I slumped in a chair and didn’t really move, not even a muscle until Toni cooked something that finally galvanized me into some sort of action, if only of mastication!
Today, after my swim, I have to call into the supermarket – a prospect which is energy draining merely in the thought, let alone the reality.
At least the today, Wednesday, started with a lesson with the semblance of normality where I actually had to interact with the class and do something vaguely approaching teaching – even if it was only PSE with Year 11.
After lessons of incomprehensible chemistry I am now in an art class where the pupils are busily constructing congratulations cards which should keep them occupied for the lesson they have in which to produce them.
An my gestures of studied casualness as I willingly give up a free period for the benefit of my colleagues are now nugatory as my timetable had been fully filled out with supervision. I know in theory that a supply teacher has no right to free periods because of the lack of need for preparation and marking, but I would have liked to have been able to shyly offer my services to a needy colleague. Ah well, another piece of faux generosity bites the dust!
My name does, however ring through the staff room in the mornings when the cover list is put up and colleagues recite my name in a delighted chant-like way as they realize that I am doing the cover that could have fallen to them.
I wonder how they are going to adjust when reality hits on Monday when I will no longer be here and their free time will be swallowed up in resentful supervision!
There are eighteen periods to go before the end of the day on Friday, and the fact that I am counting them shows my attitude quite starkly. This is a good school with generally well-behaved kids, but I had not realised just how frustrating it is to be in a school and not teach your subject. Very. I am not even in classes where I can bluff my way. This is probably going to be the one time in my life where studying for the OU course was a form of escapism and displacement activity!
As he days have gone on I have become bolder in the way that I am studying and today was the first when I looked at the DVD excerpts and listened to the musical examples that I am supposed to be considering. This meant that I, like the majority of my class, had an earphone firmly placed in a single ear.
In the inclusive and multi-cultural way which is the lifeblood of the OU I have been listening to Buddhist chants, the Hallelujah Chorus and Cole Porter. I have the Vienna Opera yet to come!
And two days to go before my release from durance vile.