Tales from the classroom

9 Apr


“You may not wear trousers. You will only wear a skirt below the knee. You will not wear short sleeves or sleeveless tops. You will not wear a v necked top.” These were not school rules for the children. Oh no. These, my friends, were the words from the Headmistress of my first teaching placement Catholic school! My partner and I looked at each other. The Head had just wiped out every item in our wardrobe. We would have to go shopping!

Long skirted and sleeved we found ourselves walking up the path to the first teaching experience of our lives. We had so many meetings with so many staff it’s hard to untangle them all. They are all stuck together like threads in plasticine!

First of all we would need to know how to use a computer. A what?

Then we had to learn to lead prayers.

What scheme of work were we thinking of writing? Fox hunting? Hmmn…in a rural area? Were we sure?

We were going to volunteer to help with the school production weren’t we?

And sex education…we did know that we were delivering it to the worst year 9 class in the school didn’t we? As a tutor you realise how important it is that you ‘get involved’? Well yes, but given the subject matter, not THAT involved…surely?

One condom, a banana and a raft of taboo words later, we were on our way.

Finally teaching

After much discussion, late nights and the odd cocktail during Happy Hour my teaching partner and I were nowhere near ready to team teach our first lesson. But. Here we were. In the staff room. After break duty. With wads of paper, chalk, photocopies. Mrs. Nice-but-you-wouldn’t-cross-her was walking us along the corridor. I carelessly mentioned I could do with popping to the loo. More as a light hearted attempt to alleviate my nerves. “You must never neglect your bladder, Samantha! Never! If that is the only thing you learn from this TP then let that be it!” And with that we were being escorted to the staff loos.

Zoe and I had decided who was to go first in the sequence of teaching. It was me. It was a shaky start but the kids were nice and were either too bored to notice me or too polite to say anything. Difficult when it’s a speaking and listening unit. However, on we ploughed with photos of carcasses of fox eaten rabbits, carcasses of foxes ripped to shreds and photos of Hunt Sabs and red breasted riders battling it out in the English countryside. For or against? I’m not sure anyone was particularly bothered to be honest. The meaning of why became clear when Zoe moved to the back of the room.


The students were looking at her and trying to hide a smirk, failing, then letting their compadres in on the ‘secret’. The secret turned out to be Zoe’s attire.We had carefully followed the dress code since our first meeting at the University Education department. Today I was wearing a white t-shirt and a floor length dress over the top…doubly sure. Zoe, a pencil skirt with a floaty white blouse tucked in. And herein lay the problem. As Zoe bent down to assist one of the many students who suddenly, like wild fire, were requesting assistance around the room, the matter was revealed. Literally. A full frontal attack on teenage senses. The loose fitting scalloped neck blouse was so loose fitting that when she leaned forward it was indecent. Immediately realising the issue I tried to illegally communicate with her across the classroom. She just thought I was asking her to go see another student. It resulted in more students being aware of her underwear than I had hoped. Fortunately Mrs nice-but-you-wouldn’t-cross her hadn’t noticed. Yet. She and two short sighted students sitting near the front. Zoe could take the suspense no longer and broke protocol to speak to me during the lesson. The peep show was over, more prohibited items of clothing were added to our repertoire, but we had survived our first lesson!

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


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