Thank God it’s Friday
Before you read on please note that all names have been changed to protect to protect everyone concerned. The rest is unfortunately true events.
Thank God it’s Friday - all I need to do now is get through the day and roll on the weekend. Well it didn't happen quite like this. It all started with a phone call. Dan’s mum called because he was feeling upset this morning. Apparently in an attempt to combat behaviour the English department yesterday had singled out students to reprimand. It was a bit like get them before they misbehave. I went down to the crush hall and saw that the head of English, Mrs Albatross, was consoling Dan. I thought better of interfering so I decided I would leave her with it. The teacher who was actually in charge of the class yesterday, Mrs Cat, was also down on duty so I decide to have a quiet word with her and find out what happened. She told me that the class was going up to the library for reading lesson and Dan and another boy were fooling around. She sent Dan to stand outside the library until he could be sensible.
Something I probably haven't mentioned before is that the head of English, Mrs Albatross is a bully. I can't think of any other way to describe her. She's quite a big lady and she makes herself known throughout the school with a loud voice that you can hear from one end of the corridor to the other. She dresses in flowing bohemian clothing made from natural fibers and she wears sandals in the summer and sheep skin boots in the winter. She talks in a posh accent addressing people as "lovey and dear" and is completely patronising. I’m sure there is one in every school.
This year she seems to be worse, as she doesn't have a form group and she's out of the loop when it comes to pastoral issues. She is constantly after me, criticising for not being informed when things happen. It just so happened that this morning she was standing in the wings as I was having a chat to the English teacher about Dan and she was instantly in on the conversation. Something that probably also need mentioning is that she cannot take any criticism or any suggested criticism. So to allude that the English department had done something wrong by selecting students to reprimand before they had done anything wrong was all that she needed to go on the attack. At this point it is no use arguing and all you can do is weather the storm.
I went back up to the staff room and I had a call from Mrs kit she was just interested in seeing how Andy had got on this morning. Andy is one of our students with Asperger and lately he has been a real handful to manage. I was pleased to inform her that Andy had gone to into the reception area and was sitting quietly with his Game Boy. Mrs Kit informed me that they had dissuaded Andy from bringing his rats in today. I breathed a sigh of relief, as that was the last thing I wanted to happen today. Mrs kit said that Andy had been talking to the head of English who had encouraged him to bring the rats in and it might be a good idea to go down and have a chat to her and tell her to hold back. After round one this morning I really should have thought before going down trying to broker this issue.
Mrs Albatross was patrolling the crush hall watching the students come in. I approached her and said, “Do you know how you had encouraged Andy to bring in his rats”. This is all that was needed really she was off. “ Oh yes” in a fake posh accent she said “ I said he could bring then in and put them at the back of my room, what's wrong with that?”
“ Normally, nothing” I said, “ but we've had issues this week with his rats. You might remember that he was carrying pictures of his rats around. Well some of the students have taken offence to him thrusting these pictures in their faces”.
“Oh that is ridiculous,” exclaimed Mrs Albatross. “ I might as well quit my job now if kids can't bring in their pets”. This is a prime example of how Mrs Albatross goes on at the slightest hint of criticism. She is always threatening to quit her job because something has not gone her way. Once last year I arrived to school on Monday morning and she intercepted me in the corridor, she wanted me to give up my computer room so that she could take her lively Year 11 class in there. It was obvious she had not prepared anything for them to do and wanted the computer room to keep them busy. I had a study skills group who needed the computers that lesson and I wasn't going to give the room up. She instantly went into one of her tirades "That’s it I’m cancelling English. If I cant get access to computers then its impossible for me to teach". Okay I’m pretty easy going but I was not budging in this instant as I’d already given up half of my allocated slots to her.
So, back to the issue with the rats. “So why can’t I encourage my students to bring their pets in”, she harps. “I’ve always had animals in my room. I had an Autistic student who used to bring his Highland Terrier in once a week during our creative writing session. It was his muse”. When she says ‘muse’ I can’t help but think she teaches in a fantasy classroom. In a fantasy world kids have muses next to their desks like in Harry Potter.
You never really work through and discuss an issue with Mrs Albatross as I’m sure her receive function is broken and she just transmits. In answer to her question why she can’t encourage Andy to bring in his rats I say “ well Mrs albatross we had some problems with bullying this week. Andy has caused a bit of a stir bringing the pictures of his rats in. Funnily enough some students in his class have aversion to rats”. Okay at this stage most teachers would enter into a discussion about the bullying but not Mrs Albatross. Her response to this is “ how come we haven't been told”. This is always her catchphrase whenever she wants to go on the attack. From this point onwards all I can do is just listen to her go on and drift off in my head to that happy place where people talk civilly about problems.
She is not in a mode where she is going to listen to anything I'm going to say, and anything I say is going to antagonise her further. “ Matt you need to tell us these things how are we meant to do anything if you don't tell us. Nobody tells us anything down in the English department. We are completely in the dark. All it takes is a phone call Matt. Matt what are you doing about these bullies how come they are still in the school?” This is how it went on for about ten minutes. Eventually I managed to get a word in “ okay I'll pass on information when I get it”.
“Don’t bother" she retorts. "We will just have to manage on our own down here like we always do". There is nothing to really say to this without me being rude so I feebly reply, "Okay Mrs Albatross I just thought I’d tell you anyway".
I head back upstairs and Form period has come to an end. My next class has started but I remember that Dan is still in floods of tears in the pastoral office. I get my class into the classroom and set them some work to do. I leave the learning support assistants to help them and to watch the class. I raced back up to Dan who is still in floods of tears. He can't explain why he is still crying but he says that he is upset at being told off yesterday. I let him sit on the pastoral office for the first lesson.
After the drama this morning my first lesson is quite uneventful. The bell rings for first break and it's off to the sanctuary of the staff room for a long awaited cup of tea. Some days there is just no escape, especially when a work colleague is bullying you.
The English teacher, Mrs Cat approaches me and says, “you had Dan first period didn't you?” I tell her "yeah he was distraught this morning”. Mrs Albatross is on the attack today and appears like a monolith from nowhere. She starts with “ how come nobody was told that Dan was out of class?". I’ve got no response to this so I stand there and get ready for the rest to follow. "Matt if you know students are going to be out of class all it takes is the message down to the classroom to the teacher. How are we supposed to know where our students are if no one tells us anything?" Here we go again on the no one tells us anything. What makes Mrs Albatross such a good bully is that she magnifies your inadequacies and makes you feel ten centimetres tall. I feel like telling her to go away in maybe less than polite terms but I remain calm and stage my defence by saying. “Mrs Albatross you knew where Dan was and so did the office staff if Mrs Cat was concerned she could have sent a message to the office and she would have been informed.” this wasn't good enough and Mrs albatross went on about courtesy, safety and the fact that no one in the English department I told anything.
So the day wore on and I took refuge in my classes. At lunch I went down and find the crush hall leading into the dining hall is chaos. Normally the students line up according to the lunch rota. The idea being that every year gets a turn to go through first one day a week. The problem we have is that the students don't look at the times and when two year groups line up together there is inevitably pushing and shoving. Simon in Year Eight approaches me. He is a portly student who looks remarkably like a big fat rat. He confesses to me that in the pushing and shoving his hands had accidentally flailed back and hit Mike in the face. I look over and see Mike standing off to the side crying. I go over and comfort him and lead him and his twin brother through to the dining room past the queues. I go back out to the crush hall and begin to manage the crowd.
I spend the first ten minutes shouting "if you are in year nine go away". They understand "go away" and begin to move. They act like sheep and as a few start to move the others follow. The pushing and shoving seems to have subsided and I go and collect my lunch. I like having my lunch up in the staff room, as opposed to the dinning hall, because it is nice and quiet. So I head upstairs with my tray. Outside the staff room I see Amy, I’m desperate to eat so I let her wait. I put my lunch on the table and the Head approaches me and says that Amy is standing outside the staff room because she had tried to go through when it wasn't her return. This seems an offence unworthy of having to stand outside the staff room let alone speak to me. From past experience with Amy I know there is more to this story coming. The Head continues to inform me that when she was asked if it was her turn she stupidly said no and was told to go away. At this she began to abuse the dinner ladies. Great just what I need a wrangle with Amy this afternoon. I go outside and question Amy about her behaviour, she's quite incensed at having to stand outside the staff room and cannot see what she has done wrong. I send her back downstairs to have her lunch. I will have to remember to issue her with an afternoon detention and catch up with her later.
Mrs Albatross was at it again over lunch however thankfully I wasn't on the receiving end. The Head teacher had asked Mrs Canary controlling the dinner line how she was going. Mrs Canary obviously replied that it was chaos and that she needed help. Mr Albatross, Mrs Albatrosses husband is in charge of organising duties for Fridays and Mrs Albertross on hearing that a slight criticism had been made instantly pounces on poor Mrs Canary. Personally not being there I imagine that the Head may have said to Mrs Albertross that more help was needed. Instead of working with Mrs Canary she instantly attacked her for complaining saying "if you have a problem and you need help don’t go to the Head and complain come and get help!". I learn later that Mrs Canary is upset and crying in the staff room.
Once I finish my lunch I head back to the pastoral office outside is Mike and his brother. They are talking to Mrs Owl about the incident down in the crush all. I learned from Mrs Owl that Simon had threatened to hit Mike yesterday and that in fact it wasn't an accident and Simon had hit Mike on purpose. On this I had Simon write for me his version of events. According to Simon he did say he was going to hit Mike but this was due to Mark allegedly laughing at him in a lesson yesterday.
It is a little bit too far fetched to believe that Simon had threatened to hit Mike one day and the next day Mike was complaining Simon had punched him in the face. It was too much of a convenient ‘accident’. It's a bit like 'Sir I didn't punch him he ran into my fist'. I call Simon's mum and tell her what happened. Mum tells me that it is Simon's last day and he is a little bit upset about having to leave the school. I ask mum to come and pick him up. It's sad that he has gone on these terms.
An incident that happened at break time that I had not had a chance to catch up on was a complaint made by the French teacher about Jones. Jones had been disruptive in class and was asked to move to the front of the room. At being moved to the front he decided to make a protest and also draw attention to himself by calling the teacher a racist. Instantly he knew he'd said something wrong because a break time he came to me and said "Sir Mr Frog is going to find you and tell you I may have said something I didn't mean". I did manage to get time to go and have a chat to Mr Frog who confirms that Jones had actually called him a racist. This is serious so I decided that I'd give him an after-school detention. Mr Frog is a colourful character so I’ll describe him as stereotypically French.
I call Jones's mum and discussed the complaint. Jones also had other complaints to his record this week. I had received notes from teachers about Jones's behaviour and the fact that his trousers were always hanging halfway down his waist.
My day ends quite uneventfully. I manage to tidy my office before the bell rings…Thank god for Fridays! The only thing that has kept me going today is the knowledge that there is a beer festival on this weekend.