After a terrible teaching drought with weeks of nothing, I have recently been pretty busy back in schools and hooking up with old work colleagues. One of the best and worst things about supply is never knowing what the day will bring. I am never sure whether I'm going to work each day until I get a phone call in the morning so must be in a constant state of readiness. This also means I never have to revisit a school I dislike unless I choose to. In the last few weeks I have been to David Beckham's old secondary school, covered Drama/Technology/Geography/ English/Maths/Science/ Textiles/Art/Games/History/RE and been sworn at.
Where it all began for Becks is a ridiculously nice school but unfortunately quite a trek for me – although I'd almost describe it now as one of my regular gigs. Covering a PE lesson, I struck it lucky, sitting in on a G.C.S.E. options talk for half of the hour. In an attempt to ensure pupils don't wrongly pick G.C.S.E. Sport thinking it'll just be a lot of running around, the head of department revealed Becks' actually got a D in the subject and quoted an ex-colleague, describing him as “thick as”. He then went on to reveal Beckham achieved outstanding practical assessments but fell down on the theory - thus highlighting the importance of the sports science coursework component and written exam.
In the same school I witnessed the formation of the self-proclaimed “genetically modified” hand a less than gifted art student proudly held up and watched a year 10 boy measure along his leg with a metal ruler in a wood work class. His motive? I'm sure you can guess!
With the exception of a small girl telling me to “fuck off” and barging past me, forcing the paper I was holding to the ground, I've been teaching a far more endearing lot in one of my local haunts. In one week the top questions I was asked were:
"Why are calculators so clever – do they have brains?” - Year 11
"How do vegetables have babies?" - Year 11
"Can planes go backwards once in the air?" Year 7
As an indication of the variety of children I teach, I feel it necessary to mention the Year 9 twins I did a few home tuition sessions with, delivering English and humanities sessions (History, Geography and R.E.). Their awkward question was actually something I could answer and took great satisfaction in researching properly:
"Where does the word ghetto come from?"
You might be amused and mystified to hear that the very same twin boys quite literally whooped with joy when I set them homework, exclaiming they'd now no longer have to be bored on the plane home when returning from their Spanish weekend break.
And what better way to end a full teaching week but to hook up with old colleagues and teaching friends who manage to make supply seem like a doddle – particularly those still braving the modified and even more horrific version of my old place of employment. Chatting to the Head of Art, she told the story of an A'level student who'd managed to rip his ear-lobes attempting to self-insert flesh tunnels and had decided to cut them off using department scissors in the Art Office. You might like to know this same student had designed and given himself tattoos, working from his mirror image. This might sound like an unlikely story but having once worked in an earlier version of this now academy, I can quite believe it. I'm just grateful no-one's attempted anything similar during my supply stints. Yet.