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Oh Behave

Miranda is a Primary Supply Teacher working in schools through Protocol Education in Manchester. "What's quite nutty about teaching is how one's school meat is another school's poison". Find out what Miranda thought of covering a class that she was told was the worst.

Oh Behave

‘I’m afraid you’ve got the worst class in the school, I won’t lie to you. It’ll be tough.’ It was Monday, could it have been any other day?

I looked in through the Plexiglas at the worst class in the school. They were sitting at tables, writing down their spellings in narrow books. Some had got out their guided reading books. Three boys wiped the big whiteboard clean. ‘Excuse me Miss Gates.  THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THIS! YOU KNOW YOU DO NOT WIPE THE BOARD WITHOUT BEING ASKED BY A STAFF MEMBER! APOLOGISE TO MRS YATES! NOW FOR YOUR DISGRACEFUL BEHAVIOUR.’ sic.

‘Sorry Mrs Rates.’

‘Sorry Mrs Gates what?’

‘Sorry Mrs Mates  for wiping the board when you didn’t say.’


I have to admit. I tried to look stern. I gave them the ‘you’ve-let-your-class-down-your-school-down-and-worst –of-all-Michael-Gove-down,’ hard stare. But it was somewhat disingenuous. I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t have high expectations for pupil behaviour, but the crime didn’t appear to fit the punishment in my view. 

‘Ofsted are coming in next week and these children are completely out of control,’ sighed the teacher, as the class began writing the eight times table on their white boards and set about testing one another in pairs.  She jabbed a finger at everyone in the room and left me to it.  Ofsted, of course. I should have noticed the screaming  of ravens, the squeak and jibber of ex-teachers’ bodies turning in their graves, taps from which the blood of the innocent run (and other signs of Shakespearean foreboding).

The children talked a bit, a smattering were given yellow cards. Two stayed in at break for scribbling ‘you are a bum’ on bits of paper. But it was one of the better year 3 classes I have taught in recent months - you know what they say. When you’re tired of Oldham, you’re tired of life…

The school kept sending teaching staff into the classroom, who would nod in that satisfied kind of a way so rare in supply work, and leave again. The head came in towards the end of the day to thank me for my resilience, despite the children’s best attempts to ruin things. The children apologised again for disrespecting me then left. Two tried to stay behind to clean the sink but were ushered away in disgrace.

What’s quite nutty about teaching is how one school’s meat is another school’s poison. At some schools one’s behaviour management may be considered strong/verging on draconian, while other schools will take one glance at your wad of stickers, and see before them Walter the NQT Softy who would be better off at home sniffing flowers. Ho hum. I’ll leave you with some bons mots:

  • ‘Best not to take it too personally, am I right, yeah?’ - Dali Lama
  • ‘If you can deal with triumph and disaster/ and greet those two imposters just the same/then you’ll be a supply teacher my son.’ - Rudyard Kipling

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Tags: Miranda, supply, Manchester, behaviour, misconceptions, management, discovery,

Category: Australian Teachers

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