This Thursday was British A-Levels results day. I didn’t think I’d be nervous in the lead up, but the day loomed large all week. I didn’t sleep well, waking up early and falling asleep late. I had my first results day stress dream (when I actually got exactly what I needed, which was not bad as stress dreams go).
Supposedly, UCAS were going to send out an email sometime between 7 and 8am GMT. That’s sometime between 11:45am and 12:45pm here. I had three lesson slots to sit though first (the fourth was over this time period). The first order was distraction and I kept checking my phone for emails even though it was three hours too early.
Lesson 1, PHSCE. They read a book, 7 Habits for effective teenagers. I read my way through the course textbook I would be teaching the Year 7 Extension Mathematics Students. So far, so good.
Lesson 2, Prep time for lesson planning. Not so good as I had already taught the lesson I had to plan for that week on Wednesday. I taught Centripetal forces to Year 9s as Extension Science. They said it went quite well, and are excited for next week. I’m quite nervous, as I need to teach them the basics of Quantum Physics. So I ran around photocopying things. Then drank a litre bottle of water (one of my typical nervous habits that sort of works as I then worry for ten minutes about where the nearest bathroom is!).
On Thursday Break, one teacher brings in snacks for secondary staff, as someone else does on Tuesday (primary staff get snacks every day.). Over cheese, one of the Maths teachers informed me that he had to go to immigration that afternoon to extend his visa. Apparently the other two Maths teachers were busy, so I was the only option for a cover teacher. As Dad pointed out, only at a small international school would a wholly unqualified teenager (who still hadn’t received any A-Levels so technically had no proof she was good at Maths) be allowed to teach Maths for an hour to a year 7 class.
Lesson 3, Prep time again. Ditto above. I received the textbook for the year 7s, and probably should have read it in more detail than I did (more on that later) but was too nervous as the time ticked down. The entire science department (all four other teachers and one technician) knew what day it was, and were wishing me luck.
Lesson 4, Year 10 Chemistry. Becky Drew, my godparents’ eldest is in year 10, and knew what was happening. As did most of the class, as their my homeroom so were very sympathetic. I had marked their books the day before, and so ran through my comments (so they were less sympathetic!) as their actual teacher handed out the books (I still don’t know why he trusted me to do the marking!).
It was 11:45am, and there was an email notification on my phone. We’d agreed that, due to the awkward time difference, I could use my phone all day. Teachers are expected to have charged, switched on phones on them at all time, but they are not meant to be a distraction. However, an exception was made.
I opened the email, pulse rising and butterflies dancing manically in my stomach.
It was from the travel insurance company.
Tried to help the Year 10s learn about metals and non-metals, but was (hopefully understandably) distracted.
By the end of the lesson, 12:30, I guessed the email was going to be sent at 12:45, so forced myself to eat lunch without looking at my phone. Nothing. With five minutes before maths, I sent my Head of Year a panicked email asking why nothing had come through and then ran up the stairs (there are a lot) to the maths room.
The topic was finding prime factors, LCM and HCF. So I taught them Prime factor decomposition using the tree method or box method. Then looked in the textbook for questions to set them, and realised that the method they were expected to know was much more simple – I had inadvertently taught them the GCSE method. They all understood it, however. Probably should have read the textbook with more detail.
After about ten minutes, the head of secondary popped his head around the door and asked if it really was just me teaching the eighteen year 7s. I replied in the affirmative, and he frowned. “Give me fifteen minutes and I’ll sit at the back; you probably shouldn’t be on your own – insurance, you understand.” So he came back and sat at the back of the classroom, working through paperwork. He was not a maths teacher, so the class was still down to me.
As we continued the lesson, I noticed the emails piling up on my phone, but didn’t look at them until the class was dismissed. There were two emails requesting and URGENT call. This lead to – in hindsight – a farcical exchange of emails. No, I can’t call you on my mobile as I’m in a foreign country with limited credit. No, the school phone isn’t equipped for foreign calls. No, I don’t have face time. No, I don’t have a skype headset on me. Eventually we settled on Whatsapp.
The long and short of the call (it had to be a short because my phone batter was, of course, running down at an alarming rate) was that the Physics and Chemistry grades were one and three marks respectively from the A* boundary so we are waiting on remarks.
Me playing football in netball gear and rugby socks as that’s how you play football.
Since then, I have played football again (same degree of incompetence), celebrated the primary art teacher’s birthday at a french restaurant (relying on the Swiss-German member of our party for translation of the dish names) and rearranged my bedroom so it looks less empty (it’s four times the size of my home bedroom so it is scarily large and normal sized!). On Thursday, Saturday and Sunday I ate at/with the Drews (less cooking and great company, so no complaints and lots of thanks). Becky made me a brilliant brownie cake to celebrate A-Levels so the week ended on a high.
Looking back on the week – to write this – it all looks very funny and puts everything into perspective and I know I’ll end up in the right uni because it’s where God will put me.
Becky’s cake. Mostly gone now.