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I Am A Weapon of Mass Instruction

Chapter 12: Before School - Too Early-8:30am

To give you a better sense of what it's like to be a teacher, I thought it'd be a good idea to go through a school day lesson by lesson, and the day that I've chosen is a Terrible Tuesday.
Lorraine, my colleague in the D&T department and all-round wonderful lady, was the first one to call them ‘Terrible Tuesdays’, because it was small jokes like that that helped us get through the day. It reminded us that we were still human and that there were still things, even if they were small and bad, that could make us smile like normal people.

To be fair, Tuesdays weren’t any better or worse than any other day in the school week, but that changed when I picked up some A Level classes, which meant that I would be teaching after school. The normal school day for Years 7-11 ran from periods one to five, with break, lunch and tutor time in there, before going home. The 6th Formers though started their lessons with period three, and ran past the end of period five, with two more additional lessons just for them. The reasoning here was that the start of the day was staggered a bit, and if they wanted to, the 6th Formers could squeeze in a few hours of paid work in the morning if they had a job.

When I picked up the A Level Graphics when a colleague left, this meant that I would be teaching in periods six and seven - not a bad thing in itself as most of the staff stuck around after the students had gone anyway, so it wasn’t if I was staying all that much longer. Also, if you taught periods six and seven, you were allocated ‘free’ periods as time in lieu. These periods were very handy indeed
if they fell on period one as it meant that you could come into work later; if they fell in the day, they were just extra free periods.

The first couple of years that I taught after school, my time in lieu periods were scattered through the week and while certainly welcome, didn’t really change my working practice. In the last year
that I taught though, I had two mornings where I didn’t have to come in until break time, and it was fantastic! Not that I got up any later, but to be able to take my time in the mornings and not feel anxious or stressed was marvellous. The downside to this bonus however, was Terrible Tuesday,
the day where I taught every lesson available from period one right through to period seven.

Now, before you start pointing out that having free periods during the day is something that many, many other people would love to have, and that having to work a ‘full day’ is something more teachers should do, you need to understand just how draining a normal school day can be, let alone having to soldier on for another two lessons on top of that. Teaching is a hard, challenging, stressful, fun, interesting job, and it leaves you absolutely shattered, both physically and mentally, and that was on a good day. Throw just one misbehaving student into the mix, or a deadline for some pointless paperwork or other, or a lesson observation, and a tough day becomes even tougher.

 

***


My working day starts at 8:30am with period one. No it doesn’t, go back a bit.
My working day starts at 7:00am when I get into school. Nope, still too late, back it up.
My working day starts at 6:00am when my alarm goes off. Total lie.
My working day starts at 5:30am when I get out of bed. Close, but no cigar.
My working day starts when I wake up.

For much of the last decade, ‘when I wake up’ has been a source of annoyance for me. I grew up in the country, and it isn’t too much of an exaggeration to say I go to bed when the sun sets and get up when it rises - except that throughout my teaching career I was often awake and on my way to work before the sun rose. ‘Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’ - well, one out of three (perhaps) isn’t too bad I suppose.

For most of my teaching career, I would have been happy to have woken up at 6:00am with my alarm and started the day from there, but the longer I taught and the higher my stress and anxiety levels rose, the more disturbed my sleep became. At the time I didn’t give it too much thought, but now I see it for what it is: a very strong sign of stress having its way on a body. Nearly every day I would wake up, almost like clockwork, at 2:00am, 3:00am, 4:00am, 4:30am, 5:00am, 5:20am, 5:25am, and 5:30am when I would usually just give up and get out of bed and start the day. This would happen day after day, and I just considered this normal because it happened so often. In the last few years of my career, when I was more aware of stress and how it affected me, I was able to train myself to sleep a bit longer, and I pushed my getting up time to 5:45am. I think my alarm actually woke me up only a handful of times in the last few years when I taught.

So, technically, my working day started in the wee hours of the morning, when I’d wake up and start thinking about what I needed to do in the day to come, or carry on thinking about what had happened the day before. Sometimes I’d be able to get back to sleep really quickly, sometimes my thoughts would be churning around too much to easily nod back off. Rinse and repeat this process until I got annoyed enough to get out of bed. Add to this the several times a night I got up to go to the toilet and I didn’t have the most restful sleep pattern in the world, and I probably started off each day still tired rather than perky, refreshed and eager to get to work.

Yet I still counted myself lucky - compared to my friend and colleague Sandra, I practically lived a sedate and decedent lifestyle. Sandra would regularly work until 2:00am and then only get a few hours of sleep before doing it all again. A self-confessed insomniac, I never understood how she functioned on so little sleep, and to my eternal admiration, she was a brilliant teacher too.

Once I’d given up and gotten out of bed a quick shower was followed by getting dressed and a check of various things online before heading out the door. No breakfast, those eagled-eyed among you will notice. I’ve never really been a huge breakfast person anyway, and it was the meal that I would easily and willingly skip. Add onto this that for a long time I had very bad indigestion throughout the night, so when I got up, food was simply not on the agenda.

Yes, I know, ‘most important meal of the day’ and all that, but to be honest, at 6:00am I just couldn’t face the idea of eating. I got better during the course of my career, but in the early years I would more often than not skip breakfast and lunch, and only eat once a day. By the time I did start to think about food without my stomach roiling a little, it would almost be time of the students to
start their first lesson, so I went without.

I’d be out of the door at 6:30am like clockwork every day, and start the drive to work. I lived one town over from school, and it was a half hour drive to work. This was something that I didn’t mind as it allowed me to wake up a little more and think about the things that needed to be done during the day - by the time I arrived at school, I’d already have mental To Do list and could crack straight on. The drive in the morning was quiet and there wasn’t much traffic on the roads. More than one colleague also started their days just as early as I did, and more than one stated that the easy drive in as their reason. Leave just 20 minutes later and traffic could be horrendous - welcome to living and driving in the South East folks.

If I were one to make a note of such things, I’d count seven, maybe eight other cars in the carpark when I arrived. If I was the first one to park in the main carpark around the back of the building I’d be a little chuffed, although as this meant that I had arrived stupidly early and was clearly out of my mind, this was not something that really need celebrating. At least four of the cars had been there since 6:00am: one being the care taking staff assigned to early duty and the other three staff members who started the day even earlier than I did.

Two of them always said that they needed to get in that early in order to do their jobs, and as one of those two was my friend Justin, first thing in the morning was often a good time to catch him for a chat. One of the early risers was the legendarily grumpy Mr Howard, who had apparently once said that he was awake early anyway, and why should he use power at home when he could use
the school’s?

After an incident where some intruders got into the school and caused some minor mischief (including throwing coffee granules and a carton of orange juice all around our office - the carpet was disturbingly crunchy for a few days and our phone was never the same again, with very sticky keys. They also upended a big jar of sweets in the Sports Hall - a heinous crime in the eyes of the
PE Department, as it meant that they couldn’t eat the sweets.) we were allegedly forbidden from entering the school building until 7:00am, which put more noses out of joint than you’d think.

You were allowed in earlier, but only if you turned up at 6:00am when the caretaker on duty let himself in, but it also meant that you were locked in until he unlocked all the doors at 7:00am.
Once I’d parked up I’d head over and let myself in by activating my fob against a sensor, and then
it was into our corridor. Most days I’d see one of the cleaners, Dave, and we’d have a bit of a chat - always stay on the good side of the cleaners because they were a source of gossip and unlimited bin bags. I’d be the one to turn the lights on in the corridor, to open up the office and then open up my room. Once I moved back to the D&T Department after working in REAL, I’d often meet Lorraine, the Food Technology teacher, in the car park, and we’d gently get the department woken up and ready for the day.

I liked getting into school early. It was quiet, which is always a good thing in my view, and you had time and space in which to get things ready and generally putter around, safe in the knowledge that you wouldn’t be disturbed until at least 8:00am if things were running smoothly. Never a problem because we had our own photocopier in the office (one of only a few colour copiers in the building, and therefore good for building up favours by printing stuff out in colour for colleagues who didn’t have access to one), but getting in early meant free access to the photocopiers in the staffroom, and more than one person got in early so that they could get their resources for the day done without having to wait or track down more paper.

Even though we had our own copier, it was always a good idea to get in quick and get any copying done in the morning as if someone had sent a large document through, or was doing a lot of copies when you wanted to get some resources done, it could throw you off. It was small things like this that could add unexpected pressure to the day and sometimes throw you off-kilter completely. Early mornings were also the best time to go and raid Admin for any supplies you might want but weren’t in the department, coloured paper for photocopying being the main prize of these stationery-raids.

Room unlocked, lights on (never all of the lights though - the white walls in the building could be glaringly bright, so I only ever turned half of the lights on), laptop fired up. First order of the day
was to check e-mails for anything that needed doing straight away, otherwise it was just general getting ready for the day. I’d get books out for the first lesson or two if they were needed, get stacks of paper ready if the lesson need it, and get the instructions or any other notes written up on the board. If I was feeling particularly professional that day, I might even whip up a PowerPoint presentation to put on my smart board, which came in handy if I wanted to draw something
else on the whiteboard.

Can I say here that I am heartily glad that throughout my career I only had to work with whiteboards rather than an old-fashioned chalk board. I had to use one of those when I was training and it was horrible! Messy, scratchy and chalk is a pain in the neck to work with. I genuinely, to a disturbing level, loved my whiteboard markers. I’d often spend not inconsiderable time looking online for new brands and to see if there were any in different colours. It’s a fact that if you want to get on the good side of a teacher - any teacher - give them a nice pen and they will love you forever.

If I was super-organised and efficient, there might be time in the morning to mark a few books,
but as marking the odd book here and there was a fairly pointless exercise, it wasn’t something I regularly did. If they desperately needed marking, getting a set marked might be an activity for the morning, but they generally took longer than I had and were left until after school. More likely to happen was that Lorraine and I would have a chat - about vital things like The Great British Bake Off 
if it was on, or if we were feeling less charitable we’d have a right good moan about what had happened the previous day. Lorraine and I were a mini support-system for each other and we’d both sound off about the things that were bothering us, and without her I would have gone crazier a lot sooner.

One of the very handy things about having a laptop plugged into my smart board was that I could play music through it. On a good morning, it might be a thumping tune to fire me up for the day, and on other days something that helped me to zone out or calm down a bit. If I was in the right mood, I’d even put a bit of War of the Worlds on, as, despite it scaring me silly when I had been made to listen to it at Primary school, it was a brilliant piece of music. It was on one day when the head of the care taking team popped his head into my room to listen as well, saying that it was one of his favourites.

I knew enough to know that music was a powerful tool to use with the students, but I also knew its effect on myself too, and playing something soothing or rousing often helped me make a better start to a day than I might have made without it. Particular favourites were Walk Into The Sun by Dirty Vegas and American Symphony from the Mr Holland’s Opus soundtrack. I demand that you stop reading and go and listen to one of these tracks right now.

>musical interlude<

Doesn’t that feel better?

If I wanted to really blast out the music, I’d shut my door. It wasn’t that the mornings were sacrosanct by any means, but I didn’t want to disturb anyone either. Other than that, I always kept my door open, and if I was in any other room, I’d have the door open there too. Losing my doorstop was one of the banes of my life as the kids were always kicking them around by accident, and it was a good thing that I could nip down to one of the workshops and make a new one, although it meant working on the always-scary bandsaw.

I’m not really sure why I preferred to have the door open, but I’ve always been a Door Open kind of guy. In the context of school, it meant that the kids could come and go easily - I’d learned the hard way that if a student really wanted to get out of your room, it was better to just let them go rather than try and stop them, and an open door just let them get out quicker. It also meant that the signature odours of a school, Eau de Smelly Teenager and Eau de Too Much Deodorant could also quickly escape my room. Having walked into many a closed-door classroom to be nasally assaulted by the stinks only sweaty teenagers can produce was never a happy occasion, and I was always glad that my room (helped whenever possibly by open windows) was as fresh as it could be.

After faffing about for a while, other staff would be trickling in, and there might be the odd lone student wandering around too, waiting for their mates to turn up. While a good chunk of our student population were local and walked to school, the majority of them came by bus, and so the school was relatively quiet right up until 8:00am and then they’d start to arrive.
An exception to this rule - and an exception to many rules - was Lamarah. She lived in the same town as I did (actually, quite a few of the kids did) and because of the bus schedule, she had to
be on the bus by around 6:30am if she was going to make it into school on time. I often drove past her at the bus stop near her house, and never failed to be feel guilty as I did so, but if I stopped and offered her a lift, I’d be opening up a huge can of worms for myself, and we both knew it was safer not to.

I’d given a few lifts to staff over the years as there was a small contingent that lived in the same town. The main reason we’d get together would be in winter when the forecasts were predicting snow. After the disastrous time when it took hours and hours to get home from school, as a group we’d decided to show a united front if anything similar threatened again - if it came to it, we’d all go and speak to the Head if we felt we needed to leave early to get home safely.

In the first few years of teaching, I’d given a lift to Tammy and David, two  teachers a few years ahead of me and both ridiculously enthusiastic and willing to try new ideas out. I’d actually met Tammy on my interview day as she had been in the office as a candidate for the Head of Modern Foreign Languages (a job which she got). Tammy and David both left the school a few years later, although David came back as he said he missed the place.
The second set of colleagues were a pair of Australian teachers who were working in the English Department, and they’re the setting for an unintentionally funny and yet horribly embarrassing story for me.

Siobhan was I suppose your typical Aussie - larger than life, quite loud and very funny, and we got on quite well. Amanda was quieter and there was something a little odd about her. Not that there’s anything wrong with odd, I’m fairly odd myself, but there was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. As the ladies shared a house which was only just up the road from where I was living
at the time (I managed to move four times in the time I worked in Kent, each time more painful
than the last. I thought my moving days were firmly behind me when I finally bought a flat, but
was clearly mistaken as I have moved yet again since then, and anticipate moving yet again in the near future.) which made it handy to pick them up and drop them off.

One evening Siobhan had something to do after school, and said she would get a lift home with someone else, so it was just me and Amanda, and to say that the journey was awkward was a vast understatement. I’m being a bit harsh perhaps, but the conversation was stilted and again there was just that sense of oddness… not ‘Oh my god you’re an axe-wielding murderer and you’ve just locked the doors’ kind of odd, just something a bit strained.

Those optimistic readers among you might suspect that there might have been a little amorous tension in the confined space of my suddenly tiny car, but as Amanda harped on to anyone who would listen about her boyfriend back in Australia, I don’t think that that was the problem. Maybe I’m just a rubbish conversationalist; maybe I had had a crappy day and was too grumpy to make an effort; maybe she really was just a bit odd; maybe I’m just a horrible person and simply didn’t like her very much, but whatever the reason, that awful, forced conversation was the catalyst for what happened the following morning.

Because I hadn’t seen Siobhan the previous afternoon, I didn’t know if she wanted a lift in the morning or not. I was crazy enough to be terrified at the thought of not realising that I was supposed to pick someone up in the morning, and sail right by them, leaving them stranded. So I gave Siobhan a ring on her mobile to see what the situation was.

“Hullo?” came the Aussie-accented greeting when the call was picked up.
“Hi Siobhan, it’s Warren, just calling to see if you wanted a lift this morning or not.”
“No, we’re okay this morning, we’re getting a lift in with Fiona.” came the reply.
“Okay, no worries,” I said, no doubt an Aussie twang creeping into my own voice. Although I had
lost my Australian accent as quickly as I had acquired it, there were certain words and phrases where it made a reappearance.

While Siobhan was on the line, now seemed a good time to catch her up on the strangeness of the previous evening. “As long as I don’t have to have another conversation as painful as the one I had last bight with that fruit-loop Amanda, I’ll be fine.” I opined, with perhaps a touch more vehemence in my voice than was really good for me.
There was a pregnant pause at the end of the phone that stretched on long enough for whole galaxies to be formed in it.
“… Warren,” came the now much much more upset and shocked voice on the other end of the line, “This is Amanda.”
“Oh,” I said, ever eloquent under pressure. I don’t think I would have been more shocked and wrong-footed if someone had just punched me in the face. “Er… well, okay,” I stammered, “As long as it doesn’t happen again, we’ll be okay.” What on earth was I thinking? Someone or something needed to stop me now - I only had two feet and they were both firmly in my mouth, the next thing that I’d have to fit in there would probably be very unpleasant. I’d just been really mean to the woman and was now telling her off!

“Alright…” came the very tiny voice at the end of the phone and thankfully we both hung up. I was, and very much still am, absolutely mortified over this incident and just the act of remembering it and writing it down makes my mental skin crawl. In my defence, however, a few points should be raised. I’d called Siobhan on her mobile phone, and I’d specifically greeted her by name. Who answers someone else’s mobile without saying that it was someone else picking up? Who then doesn’t correct the other person when they name the wrong person? Not the best defence in
the world, I’ll admit, but if Amanda had simply said, ‘Hi, it’s Amanda, not Siobhan’ this excruciating memory wouldn’t have happened as even I’m not so stupid as to give someone a blasting like
that on purpose.

The consequence of my almighty vocal blunder was that Amanda never got a lift home with me again, and we were cordial but distant from each other at work whenever our paths crossed. It was a small mercy when she left the UK to head back home and to her boyfriend (who I still maintain was a figment of her imagination), and I only rarely gave lifts afterwards.
I’ll go and hang my head in shame for a while if you don’t mind.

Anyway, enough self-castigation, back to Lamarah. As she was in school very early, she’d often come for a chat, especially if she was bored as I was guaranteed to (at least appear to) listen to whatever was on her mind that day. Generally it was who was being bitchy to whom, which only threw up the usual names again and again, or more than once, a lengthy diatribe on how stupid
her boyfriend was. The reason for his stupidity, apparently, was that he didn’t listen to what Lamarah told him to do, something that I in my advanced age attributed to being a rookie error
and something he’d soon grow out of.

Thinking about it, Lamarah ranting about the stupidity of various people in her life was a common theme, and I feared for the world if she ever became a benevolent dictator. Luckily her sights were set on the medical world, and she’d also be quite forthright in communicating her opinions on her St John Ambulance instructors, and how they really should let her do more complicated stuff as could’t they see she was bloody amazing. Maybe she didn’t quite phrase it like that, but that was the general just of her sentiments.

Of course, she was bloody amazing, and proved this when one weekend she was driving home with her mum and a friend from St John training and they saw a car accident. Lamarah demanded that her mum stop the car so she could go and help. According to Lamarah, her allegedly more experienced and competent friend stayed in the car while she - hero of the hour - dashed over to help. She was actually the first one on the scene, and established who needed what help. When the ambulance arrived she was able to give the paramedics concise notes and direct them to the most needy. At this point, she should have stepped back and let them work, but apparently they were so impressed by her efficiency and skills that they let her tag along while they dealt with the incident, no small honour. Bear in mind that even in Year 11, Lamarah was a tiny girl, but her force
of personality made her seem like ten feet tall.

She told me this on the Monday after the accident happened, and I could tell that, despite liking a good story much like myself, she was being truthful, and I have no doubt that given any opportunity she would have been directing the paramedics around like a sergeant-major. Needless to say, I was incredibly impressed and proud of her, to the extent that once she’d gone on her merry way,
I took myself off to tell the Head about it so he could put it in the monthly news letter. He too was impressed, as anyone should be, and Lamarah was appropriately mortified that I'd spoken to him and that she’d be in the new letter.

While Lamarah was very much a special case, being around in the mornings allowed you to cement the relationship you had with the students, and it never failed to surprise and impress me when the kids would be unfailingly polite and cheery in the morning, often greeting the teachers first in the morning.

If you were lucky, all the morning before lessons started held for you was some time in which to get your stuff together, and if you were so inclined, grab a cup of tea or coffee to set you up for the day. If you were unlucky, the morning might hold two other irksome possibilities: briefing or duty.
We only had briefing once a week by the end of my career, and I have to say they were a complete waste of time. Nothing interesting was said, and whatever was said was put out on e-mail anyway, so there was no real consequence to not attending, and as such, the ranks of attendees over the years had grown somewhat thin.

It got to the stage where staff were somewhat pointedly reminded that it actually took place with an announcement over the school tannoy system, but even then the staffroom was not exactly packed to the rafters with eager and enthused staff. Thankfully briefing was held on Monday morning, which coincided nicely with one of my flexi time in lieu periods and I had a cast-iron excuse for not going.

Briefings had been a little different when I had started teaching. We had them every day, and because most departments didn’t have their own offices in the old building, everyone had to gather in the staffroom, and as a result, it was a much cheerier, livelier place than the version in
the new building which was usually mostly empty. It had apparently been designed to be a ‘non-working’ space, which just meant that everyone stayed in their nice shiny new offices to do the work that they wanted to do. Even though we weren’t really supposed to, most departments quickly added fridges, kettles and microwaves to their offices, so there was little reason to use the staffroom. Everyone also knew that the ‘non-working’ space was also a total lie, as people often worked in there, and in the last few years when I was there, the back corner was turned into a makeshift office for the Raising Achievement team.

Briefings in the old building had often been funny as the old Head had been cheerfully bonkers, and there was a real social element to it as everyone gave out messages. But it was also a place where the pecking order in the school was very much apparent - teachers had Their Seat, and woe-betide any foolish new teacher if they sat in it. At best they’d get a frosty glare, but more likely they’d be told that that was Their Seat and be expected to move. The Breakfast Bar was also out of bounds as that was where the cool kids sat, and you’d have to put in years of time before you were elevated to such heights. As a new teacher at the time, I was banished to the side of the staffroom reserved for new staff and cover teachers.

The other unfortunate activity that happened before school was Duty. Everyone had to do a Duty once a week before school, at break time and then after school. If you were unlucky, you had a rubbish duty - as I had one year where I was stuck in the carpark monitoring the bike sheds and
the back steps to the tennis courts for smokers. As it was pissing it down with rain quite a lot of
the time, and not even our students who were smokers were that desperate, this meant that a lot
of the time I was left on my own to patrol the most boring duty area in the school. As our office window looked out over the carpark, my helpful and friendly colleagues would often wave and display the steaming cups of tea and the cake they’d be having at break time, especially when
it was especially cold or wet, and as this is England, that was a lot of the time.

If I was looking particularly miserable, our technician Jan might pop out of her prep-room and offer me a biscuit. But I’d have to look really miserable for that to happen. Admittedly, this duty area was quite nice in Spring and Summer, and it was really quite pleasant to have a bit of a stroll in the fresh air and sun.

Playground duty had similar weather-based perils, but it was quite nice to be able to chat to the kids. For most of my time though, my duty area was at the end of our corridor where it was your
job to redirect the students elsewhere as they weren’t supposed to be down there, and to redirect anyone eating back to the canteen or outside. Not the most thrilling of things to do, but it had to
be done, especially considering that the Senior Team did the rounds and ticked off who was doing their Duty and who wasn’t.

It always seems a tad suspicious to me that I regularly saw them when my duty area was inside,
but in my year of purgatory in the car park, I’d only seen my duty leader a handful of times. A
more cynical person than I might suggest that they didn't like going out in the cold and wet, but obviously I would never suggest such a thing.

It was generally agreed that the worst duty area to get was the canteen, as it was something of a zoo at break and lunch as lots of hungry and loud kids tried to cram their way through our fairly small canteen area.
 

Duty after school consisted of bus duty - you were assigned a bus and it was your job to see the kids safely on it and if it was one of the coaches to make sure that they had their seatbelt on. I had the same bus for about four years in a row, and it was a chance to get to know some of the kids I didn’t see in my classes a bit better. It was also the done thing on bus duty to wave cheerily at the kids as the busses pulled away. We did this because 99% of the kids looked miserable as sin and we wanted to show that we were not, but it was always a bit of a game to see who could make the most students wave back.

I always used to like doing bus duty on either a Friday or even on the last day of term when,
after the busses had gone, the Head would turn to us and very firmly tell us to go home ourselves.
Thankfully, Tuesdays were not my duty day as this would have just pushed me over the edge on what was already a very busy day.

As this was a Terrible Tuesday, I had to make the best of my time before school as I could as I wouldn’t have much time to think during the rest of the day. The better organised I was before the lessons started, the less I would have to worry about and I could roll from one class to the next without much running around getting stuff together. Thinking about it, the Terrible Tuesday could have been worse - I didn’t have duty and I only saw each class once, so I could just keep things moving, plus the majority of the groups were Key Stage 4, so I didn’t have to be annoyed by lots of Year 7s getting under my feet and annoying me.

First up were my Year 9 group, followed by the Year 11s, so not the worst start in the world, but I could have been eased into the day a bit more gently too. I grabbed the books for the Year 9s out of their cupboard and put them on the front table. I wanted the Year 9s to be working on the computers for their lesson, and as they were a big group, I had to go and grab a few laptops from their charging cabinet in the corridor so that I had enough computers for each student. I always tried to make sure that I got the extra laptops as soon as I could as they were a precious commodity, and if someone else had snagged them for a class and there weren’t any spares, that would leave me a little stuck. Thankfully I usually timed my raiding missions quite well and didn’t run into any problems.

The building had more life to it now, as more and more students arrived and filled up the corridors with noisy chatter. They weren’t allowed down the teaching corridors until the bell rang, so outside my room was relatively calm, but as I was the first room you came across in our department, I could hear the kids chattering close by. For some reason a herd of Year 10 boys had staked out the end of our corridor as their territory in the mornings and they’d gather there every day, regardless of whether they had a D&T lesson or not.

They weren’t so bad, and being teenage boys, they weren’t all that talkative, preferring to communicate by the complex male communication system: the grunt. A subtle, understated language, much could be said by varying tone and volume, or by adding a tilt of the head, and the lads were soon to become masters of it. Considering that the girls at school were very forthright and had no problem letting anyone know what they were thinking at any given time, the gentlemen were probably developing the grunt as a future self-protection measure.

The time came when I had done all I could do in the time that I had, and as I had about ten minutes before the bell went, I could actually have a bit of a breather. I filled up my water bottle, feeling once again guilty that it hadn’t been one of my higher priorities. I was notoriously bad at drinking throughout the day, and although I was certainly better at it these days, it still tended to slip my mind. I kept a litre water bottle on my desk, in the hope that I couldn’t ignore something that big, and optimistically set myself the target of having to drink a litre during the day. This might sound like a piece of cake, but it was a rare day that I managed it, although I had noticed that my persistent headaches had lessened somewhat since I’d been drinking more. As I filled my bottle, I was yet again thankful that I was in the D&T Department as it meant that not only did I have a large room (that allegedly I should only have 20 students in), but that I also had a sink in my room, which meant that I didn’t have to hike to the staffroom to get water, or even worse, have to brave the corridors to have to fight my way to the water fountains.

Everything was ready, I’d done all I could do, so I had a last few minutes of peace before the noise of the day  started. After being in the building for an hour and a half, the day was about to begin.

Fatigue Lv: 1 - minimal
Preparation Lv: 3.5 - lessons planned and I know what I’m doing, but not all singing and dancing
Fear & Dread Lv: 27 - normal
Fake Anger Lv: 0 - but reserves are standing by
Real Anger Lv: 0.5 - walking into the building makes me a little angry
People who have annoyed me: 1 - I’m generally annoyed at myself for something
Time remaining in the day: 8 hours, 20 minutes