Diary Of A Supply Teacher: 'I do my best to contain the noise, to no avail'

So far, I have tended to regard a day of maths as about the worst that can happen, but today it's music. It's a popular subject, as it tends to involve practical work, but with a supply teacher this is not possible, and results in a lot of grumbling.

The Year 8 groups have a worksheet about reggae. Anyone who has satisfactorily completed the work sheet is allowed to use a keyboard, but only with headphones so there's no disturbance. The morning passes relatively peacefully.

However, I realise that the afternoon will bring a difficult set of Year 9s. I voice my concerns in the staffroom, and the drama teacher comes to my aid. They are working on a production of Heat, and she has a DVD that I could show them. This sounds like a far more attractive proposition than a worksheet on Elvis, and I am duly grateful. She even has an alternative, should they claim they have already seen Heat.

Though I was never a boy scout, I am learning the value of "be prepared", so I check that the music room actually has a DVD player. There's only a video player; I return to the drama teacher. Miraculously, she has videos as well, and I begin to feel that things are actually going my way.

The class arrives with the customary groans that their teacher is absent. "The bad news is that you have to put up with me instead, but the good news is that we're going to watch Heat. Who knows how to work the video?" This produces a gaggle of volunteers, but unfortunately no success. We are unable to conjure up anything but static, and someone goes for a technician. She is similarly bemused, pointing out that she works with computers, not televisions. We are 10 minutes into the lesson, there's no chance that they'll contemplate a worksheet on Elvis, so I apologise for the lack of entertainment and suggest that they see if they can come up with masterpieces of their own using keyboards and headsets. Anyone who feels they have a composition worth listening to may perform it at the end of the lesson. But this is not a group to be so easily fobbed off.

In addition to the keyboards, there are various instruments around the room, many percussion but some others. The noise is phenomenal, and I do my best to contain it, to no avail. I decide that the priority is to prevent damage to the more vulnerable instruments, and apart from that, I eventually leave them to it. If someone comes to complain, so be it.

Gradually, they become aware that I am not paying attention. The fun of causing havoc is reduced, and they revert to their normal leisure pursuits of huddling round mobile phones and iPods. One or two wander over to chat to me, as being ignored does not seem to be part of their experience. Individually, they are reasonable if not particularly articulate, and I point out that I have better things to do with my voice than yell at them.

At the end of the lesson, they leave peacefully and I restore order. Nothing has been broken, no one seems to have been disturbed, and there have been no injuries. I think it could be called a lowering of sights.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee