I was a supply teacher for about five years, and usually the classes I had to cover fell into two categories: the teacher knew they were going to be out of class on a course and had left copious amounts of work to be completed and marked by the end of the day; or the teacher was ill so I had to wing it. Therefore I had a few lessons up my sleeve that would fill the afternoon assuming the morning was taken up with literacy and numeracy.
One of my favourite lessons was based on the biblical story of ‘Jonah and the Whale’. We’d all sit on the floor pretending to be in a boat then act out being in a terrible storm when Jonah is thrown overboard and swallowed by the whale, being as dramatic as we could manage!
Then the children would spend the rest of the session making pictures of the boat in the storm, postcards from Jonah inside the whale’s stomach, diaries, maps, finding out about whales – anything that would keep them quiet until home-time! On this particular occasion I was just suggesting to the Teaching Assistant that she might want to go and make us a cup of tea because the children were all happily occupied when a boy came over, smiling broadly.
‘Finished Miss, can I play with the polydron now?’
‘How on earth can you have finished James? We’ve only just started!’ said the T.A.
‘I did a diary, like you said Miss, and it’s finished, see.’
He proudly brandished the paper in my face.
“Monday – there was a storm, I fell overboard and drowned.”