When I was leaving school today, as the rest of the staff were going into a whole-school meeting (lucky devils), there was not a soul on reception. There was no cheery goodbye or wearied statement of half-intent to see me again tomorrow.
As I was signing out on one of those digital wonders of a singing out book, I noticed a mother and her daughter waiting outside of the external glass doors. She obviously had things on her mind as the thundercloud above her head testified to.
In all my time in teaching I have tended to avoid these natural disasters and have chosen, instead, to find different routes of travel. Here, unfortunately, I was trapped. I had my bicycle gear on and was pushing my bike which made it almost impossible for me to fake a different exit. Instead of putting on a poor RADA performance, I thought that I may as well face the bull with the horns (I think that’s it).
“I’m afraid that they are all in a staff-meeting and there is nobody on reception,” I offered as apologetically as I could.
“I can’t let you in, I’m sorry,” but I was not telling the truth.
“Dun’t matter, I’ll wait here all night if I have to.”
I believed that she would wait a while, but not all night.
“Bang out of order,” she exclaimed. “Bang out of order.”
I gathered that she was talking about something rather than rehearsing for a role in a play or television soap.
“Bang out of order!”
She was a well-built lady so I chose not to disagree. But I was interested.
“What is out of order?” I just could not help it. It was like lighting the fuse to a firework. Light blue touch-paper and retire. As I was semi-retired, I thought that this was good advice. I lit it, watched the flame catch, stepped back a little, and waited for the explosion.
“Teachers take away her phone,” she pointed angrily at her daughter. “Last lesson of the day, they take away her phone and tell her that she cannot have it back until tomorrow. Bang out of order those bloody teachers. Who do they think they are?”
“Bloody teachers,” I wanted to answer. “Bloody teachers who have to deal with your offspring on a daily basis. Bloody teachers who have to try to educate your kids, give them an idea about the world where perceived rights come freely without any responsibilities. Bloody teachers who try to do their best to unpick the worst of what poor parenting has managed to instil. Bloody teachers who are supposed to be skilled professional educators and not bloody babysitters.
Bloody teachers who are all in a meeting right now and will be for the next hour and will therefore not emerge from the mind-numbing consumption of their free-time in time for you to ambush them at the gates. You will, I am sure, have gone home by then…”
I didn’t say any of this. Instead, I climbed on my bike and rode off.
Bloody teacher, eh?