My name is Henry Robinson and I'm a student teacher. A very important part of the training course is "teaching practice"; that's when a student teacher goes to a school and teaches for several weeks. This can be a frightening experience, so I was very glad that I was able to do my teaching practice in a school just outside Edinburgh, four hundred miles from my home in London. My college supervisor came to the school once a week to see how I was getting on, but apart from him no one else knew how well or how badly I was doing.
On my first morning the headmaster called me into his study.
Headmaster Now don't forget, Robinson; if there's any boy you
can't manage just come and see me.
Henry Thank you very much, sL. As a matter of fact,
there was just...
Headmaster Come to my study any time you have a problem
you want to talk about.
Henry Yes sir, I will. If I could ...
Headmaster I well remember when I did my first teaching
Henry I wonder if I...
Headmaster Now in those days, mind you, life was much harder.
Henry Excuse me, sir, but...
Headmaster And as for the pay — but I'm talking too much. I'm
sorry. Did you want to ask me a question?
Henry Yes, sir.
Headmaster Well, look, I'm rather busy at the moment, and I
expect you want to get started. Come and see me
again tomorrow morning. Good luck!
Henry Thank you very much, sir.
I think the headmaster was afraid I was going to ask him whether I could just watch for the first week and start the actual teaching the following week. If so, he was quite right. I was feeling very nervous as I walked to the classroom.
I was introduced to my class of thirty boys by their classroom teacher. "Right, lads, now listen to me," he said. "I don't want any trouble while the student teacher is taking you. Is that clear?" The boys nodded. They all looked very innocent, but I could remember the way we had treated student teachers when I was at school. As the teacher left the room he drew me to one side. " Watch out for the Welsh boy," he whispered. "Philip Jones. Back row, red hair."
That first lesson was a disaster. The boys behaved very badly and refused to listen to what I was saying. They talked incessantly and threw things at each other while I was trying to write on the blackboard. To my surprise the only boy who sat and listened politely was Jones. Occasionally he even told the other boys to be quiet. When the bell rang for break, he came up to me. "Break lasts for fifteen minutes, sir," he said.
In the staff room one of the teachers came up to me and asked me how Jones had behaved. "Oh," I said, "he was all right. It was the other..." But I wasn't able to finish my sentence.
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