Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Day In The Life

routine (n.)
Reliving Groundhog Day again . . . and again . . . and again. Without Andie MacDowell, unfortunately.

Instructions: Read the description below of an English teacher's typical working day, then write a short paragraph about yourself . . .

A Day In The Life Of Colin Raphead, EL Consultant at Looniversal Learning

Normally, I wake up at about 3 o'clock screaming something like, “No, not my legs!” Ever since I took over 3T, I've had this recurring nightmare, but I try not to let it worry me too much. After that, I drop off again until my alarm wakes me up at five to six. I find it quite soothing to roll over and see "5:55" flashing back at me. I have a shower and get dressed (in that order) and then collapse on the sofa for a couple of minutes. A quick glance at my watch tells me it's 6:16, so I grab my old briefcase and charge off down the road, arriving just in time for my 6:30 English for Cashiers class. Personally, I don't see why our local supermarket is bothered about its staff learning English (on the off-chance a tourist comes in one day asking for a Kit-Kat, I suppose), but every time I mention this to my Director of Studies, she just replies, “That's their problem, not ours”.

What really irks me, though, is that my first student rarely turns up until five to seven – “Sorry, I sleep!” –, so I tend to sit there twiddling my thumbs for 25 minutes. On the positive side, by the time the class actually gets going properly (when Student Number Two rolls in at ten past – “Sorry, is traffic!”), it's already nearly time to finish.

Half past seven, a quick coffee and I run back down the road to my 7:45 English for Systems Operators class. This might sound glamorous on paper, but I promise you it's not my idea of fun wading through every single paragraph of a 600-page manual entitled Troubleshooting for two hours every morning – especially as my students say the manual's got it all wrong, anyway, and isn't worth the paper it's printed on; or copied on, rather - nobody seems to know where the original manual is.

A quarter to ten and I stagger out of class and onto the number 88 bus which takes me into town . . . eventually. As I sit there waiting for our driver to finish his cheese and tomato roll, my stomach begins rumbling. Then, I catch sight of Miss Snapper, overtaking us in her bright red Mercedes. I wave feebly, but she never sees me (or pretends not to, at any rate).

By the time I get into Looniversal Learning, it's gone half past ten. I greet Miss Snapper on her way out to some appointment somewhere. She always asks me how things are going, but never hangs around for my answer – “Sorry, Colin, can't stop”. She seems a very busy lady, indeed. I sit down at my desk and prepare my classes for the afternoon. I don't really have as long as I'd like (20 minutes for five hours of classes) but, as Miss Snapper pointed out at the last staff meeting, “Time is money and I pay you lot to teach, not bleat.”

Ten to eleven and, armed with briefcase, four dictionaries and CD player, I sprint down the corridor to room 121 (aptly named as it happens since, although eight students enrolled for my Post-Proficiency class, in practice it tends to be a "one to one"). Anyway, between the two of us, we manage to keep the conversation flowing – it's either that or listen to my rumbling stomach – until 12:59 (one to one again!) when all inspiration suddenly dries up and we both agree to call it a day.

One o'clock at last and I stuff myself silly with a Massive Mac, large bag of fries and a chocolate thick shake at the MadConald's opposite our school. Unfortunately, an irate parent collars me, demanding to know why I've got it in for his daughter. I tell him it's not only his daughter – I hate the whole lot of them in 3T – and that I'm sorry if I sounded a bit abrupt on the phone. This usually does the trick, and then it's blissful peace / peaceful bliss (take your pick) until five to two when I suddenly realise that I forgot to order my photocopies for the first class this afternoon. I say something very rude in a loud voice, shocking everyone around me, and charge back to the staffroom to let my colleagues know that I'm in a bit of a flap.

Panic is not the word to describe our staffroom at two minutes to two: “Get out of my way” . . . “Who's nicked the Headcase Elementary Teacher's Book?” . . . “Where's that bloody CD?” . . . “Hey! Who's swiped my CD player?” . . . “Look what those morons have done to my photocopies” . . . “OK. There was a DVD on my desk” . . . and so on and so on . . . The sense of camaraderie is terrific.

Seven p.m. and it's smiles all round as everybody is friends again in the staffroom: “Sorry, I called you a ****, Colin” . . . “That's allright, you ******” Most of us decide to go down the road to Jackie's, where we unwind over a few wines - “Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh” . . . “Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow” . . . - and exchange plans for the evening ahead: “I thought I'd stay in and mark some compositions” . . . “I've got to prepare my classes for tomorrow morning” . . . “I'm going to get really pissed and paint the town red. Then, if I'm feeling up to it, I'll make a start on those reports”.

Inevitably, conversation turns to the day's classes:

One of my students said she'd never heard of "identifying relative clauses".
Who was that?
You know, the one who's going out with the butcher's assistant.
You mean the bloke who works down at B & M?
Isn't that the supermarket where you give classes, Colin?
No that's M & B. B & M is where Jill works . . .

Eventually, I have to remind everyone that we agreed not to talk shop and, in any case, it's gone 8 o'clock, so we'd better get back to HQ and get our classes ready for the morning.

It's usually about 10 o'clock by the time I've finished sorting myself out for the next day. I get the bus home (same driver, different roll) and stumble up five flights of stairs, carrying my briefcase, a loaf of brown bread and two cartons of orange juice. I fumble for my keys, burst through the door and dump my stuff in the hallway. As I collapse on the sofa, I notice that my clock has just turned "11:11" , which I find kind of reassuring.

A couple of hours later, I usually wake up in a state of shock. “Eh? OK, number six, please, AndrĂ©s, er . . . Where am I?” My stomach is rumbling again, so I make myself a massive cheese sandwich and turn the telly on or off - depending on whether I'd left it off or on respectively.

If I've got any energy left, I take my clothes off before crawling into bed. I say a short prayer and thank God I'm still alive.


  1. Blimey, you've got it easy. CD players, a DVD? Wow.

    On a dietary note: you should east some fruit occasionally.

    ; )

  2. Thanks for the advice, Richard. I can't believe you made it to the end of all that waffle! By the way, I've just been for a Chinese: spring roll, fried rice, sweet 'n' sour pork and vanilla ice-cream. There were a couple of grapes in the sweet 'n' sour pork, so there goes my daily fruit intake.