“Uh, yes, so…” begins my director, “we’ll have a meeting tomorrow to confirm everything, but you’ll be teaching 6 extra classes, working an extra hour each day, and designing the programme for the new first graders. Also, you are now the only teacher of your 5th grade class, so you’ll have to call their parents regularly and keep them up to date with progress or problems. You’ll need to set homework every few days for all your elementary students, and mark it in time for your next class with them. Oh, and your kindergarten classroom is the one on the second floor, please set up levels 4, 6, and 9. Level 9 has not arrived yet, it will come on Friday, so you will have to learn all the material at the weekend so you can teach it on Monday. Please give me a list of the materials you need for all art classes in March, and email me the worksheets you will use for your weekly beginner class. And (brief pause and glance around) you must clean this room as well. But not now, because the parents of your new students are coming in to pick up uniforms and you need to come and meet them.”
I look up icily at her from my desk, over my first coffee of the day, trying not to state the obvious (1- that I am clearly in the middle of the 2-day process of cleaning the classroom, hence the empty shelves and the contents in various piles all over the place, and 2- that I very obviously did not receive a substantial enough pay rise this year). “Fine,” I reply brightly. “OH!” she says, staring down intently at my head. She peers more closely at me. “Oh, so many white hairs!” she tells me in a shocked voice. “I never really looked up close before.”
“Let’s go meet the parents,” I suggest before I shake her till her teeth rattle for having the audacity to point out that I’m going grey after heaping enough pressure on me to finish off the greying process by the end of next week. We go downstairs.
“Have you seen Hayley’s head?” asks Jennifer cheerfully, as we encounter my colleagues lingering in the entrance hall. “So many white hairs! Look!” I am powerless to do anything as I am surrounded by ooh-ing colleagues who then proceed to pluck the grey hairs from my head as I stand there meekly with my head bowed, like a sheep being shorn. There are now so many grey hairs that I fear they may be in danger of leaving a bald spot, but they assure me that the grey is evenly distributed across my entire head, which is always comforting to know. “Beauty is painful,” says Sarky Teacher sternly when I emit a feeble “Ow!”.
I will be glad when the kids come back to school…