I went to my classroom, expecting to teach a class of 14 year olds. They were late arriving.
I laid out on each of their desks their marked books and an A4 resource page for the lesson. I turned on the projector and put in my password to display my lesson notes.
Where was the class?
I peered into the corridor, sure that I would see them come
But, no. Not a fourteen year old in sight.
I waited another few minutes. Perhaps another teacher had lost track of the time or not heard the bell.
When they were ten minutes late, I scurried along to the school office to see if I had missed a newsletter item saying they were on a school trip or having immunisations in the hall. Perhaps they had voluntarily signed up for immunisations in preference to learning about irregular sentences. It was possible, and reasonable.
'I've lost 9H,' I said to the three ladies in the office. 'Any ideas?'
'The Pied Piper?' one of them said.
Except that she didn't. I just thought of the joke, and wish she had said it, as it would have made my story funnier. So I put it in anyway.
Just then, along came a member of the senior management, in charge of that year group. 'You've lost 9H? What's happened?' She looked alarmed, as well she might. If I'd mislaid them, she'd be the one informing the parents that police were combing the building for their offspring, checking the drains and investigating a crack in the playground for tell-tale threads from blue blazers.
As Oscar Wilde's character Lady Bracknell would have said in an educational version of The Importance of Being Earnest, 'To lose one pupil may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose twenty-two looks like carelessness.'
But then one of the office staff located the class's timetable. 'They're in Maths,' she said. 'Period 5, they have Maths.'
'But I have them for English now.'
'You have them for English in Period 6. This is Period 5.'
I checked my watch. My face went hot
'Oops,' I said. 'Senior moment. Sorry to cause a stir.' And I turned back down the corridor, their laughter following me, to do some marking in an empty room with its books and papers all laid out for a phantom class.
When my students turned up, bang on time for Period 6, I
Later on, I met the senior manager in a corridor. 'I'm sorry about earlier,' I said.
She patted me on the shoulder. 'You cheered me up so much,' she said. 'Other people's inefficiencies are always so encouraging.'
'At least I was there for a class which wasn't,' I said, 'and not the other way round. It's much more humiliating to be fetched from the dining room where you're helping yourself to leftover cake to be told you should be in Room 2 teaching eleven year olds about war poetry.'
'Or teaching them about mnemonics,' she said.
Except that she didn't say that. But I wish she had, because it would have rounded off my story nicely with a touch of irony, and I do love a bit of irony. So I put it in anyway.
|You come with me, children. I'll take you somewhere you'll never have to study an irregular sentence again.|