Phil Revell

Teacher’s Help

A common problem faced by newly qualified teachers is the presence of a really disruptive individual in the classroom. Whether it’s unwelcome behaviour or an old fashioned personality clash, there’s nothing quite as challenging as a classroom assistant.

In the morning there’s Mrs B, who has a first class honours degree in English and took a Masters in Linguistics at the Institute. For some reason you haven’t mentioned your 2:2 from Wolverhampton. Mrs B is awfully interested in your lesson plans, especially for the literacy hour. She often has tiny queries and suggestions, nothing critical you understand, but synthetic phonics is so easily misunderstood.

Mrs B gets on really well with the Head, that’s how she began at the school, offering to help whilst she wrote her thesis.

After lunch there’s Ms P, an ex-pupil and single mother who lives on the same estate as most of the kids. She loves your lessons and finds it difficult to believe how much preparation goes into an afternoon’s work - you’re with her there. You part company over simple things - Leanne and Dylan mainly. Ms P, ‘Call me Trace’ can reduce Dylan to quivering wreck and has Leanne and her mates wrapped firmly round her little finger.

There you are, up at the front, saying in the your firmest voice;

“That will be quite enough, Dylan. Put Mr Frosty back in his cage and sit down.”

Dylan does nothing of the kind, until Ms P enters, raises a neatly plucked eyebrow in your direction, nods at Dylan and barks.

“Put that hamster back - now.”

Mr Frosty is returned to his den and Trace lets Dylan know that she’ll “be ‘avin a word with yer mum.”

This wouldn’t be quite so bad if Ms P were not doing ‘A” levels at the local FE college.

“I’ll probably make a soddin’ fool of meself,’ she says brightly. “But I’ll have a go.”

And she’s a size 10.

But the limit, the clincher, the very last straw comes in the staffroom at the end of the day. There they are, Mrs B and Ms P nattering together about eyeliner and VPL. The normally glacial Mrs B is screaming with laughter after some less-than-PC anecdote, and then they disappear together, Ms P climbing into the front seat of Mrs B’s BMW. Back in the classroom there’s a pile of marking. Mr Frosty comes to the door of his cage and squeaks hopefully.

“Don’t you start,” you say.

© 2011 Phil Revell