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Inside Teaching : April 2011
inside teaching | April 2011 SEE ME AFTERWARDS 56 SEE ME AFTERWARDS 56 We missed you Wendy HaRmeR writes in defence of her daughter’s relief teacher, and why she’s mighty glad when her classroom teacher returns. ‘He’s mean!!’ my daughter howled as she wrenched open the car door and plonked herself on the passenger seat. ‘He’s mean, he’s mean, he’s mean!’ She was so incensed she couldn’t stop gabbling. In six years of primary school, I’d never seen her so outraged. On the drive home she articulated every misdemeanour committed by her relief teacher. ‘He made us do detention. We don’t even have detention at our school! He said us girls were ugly and had big mouths! He slammed the window in Jasmine’s face! He yelled at us and we all jumped out of our seats. He’s mean and angry. And we didn’t do anything! He’s got some personality problem and that’s not our fault!’ I soothed and cajoled as best as I was able, but when her big brother got in the car she was off again, repeating every grievance as he listened and nodded in agreement. ‘I know,’ he said. ‘Sometimes they’re getting a divorce or some random stuff and they take it out on us. Like that’s our problem?’ Of course, as a parent, I listened to what my kids were saying and my immediate impulse was to get on the phone, ring the school, find the teacher in question and ask, ‘Mate, what is your problem, exactly?’ However, I decided the case for the prosecution needed more information. ‘So why did he say you were ugly and had big mouths?’ ‘I think that was supposed to be a joke, but it wasn’t very funny.’ ‘Why did he slam the window in Jasmine’s face?’ ‘Just because she stuck her head in the window and yelled “Hello” and waved to everyone.’ ‘And why did you all get detention?’ ‘Only because two girls had a fight over a bottle of White Out.’ Hmmmm. All of this got me thinking of the plight of the relief teacher. It reminded me of the times when I was a radio broadcaster and went on holidays. You don’t wish your fill-in any ill, but then again, isn’t it nice to imagine that sigh of relief from your listeners when you return? I recalled all the things we did to relief teachers when I was at school. The cat was away and the mice did play! The most shameful incident was rigging a chair so it collapsed and