Diary of a schoolteacher: Dripping in mud and a laughing stock? This is not what I signed up for!
Published 20/10/2010 | 05:00
I'm standing at the mouth of a large pipe holding a clipboard, peering into the dark inside.
All of a sudden three of the boys, looking like Sumatran mudmen, covered in muck from head to foot, crawl out from inside, overpower me and wrestle me into a puddle.
It's not hard to throw them off, being much bigger than them, but they bounce back up and start rubbing their hands all over my best Magee jacket, making sure the mud is dripping on to my trousers and shoes.
A couple of seconds later, another 10 muddy kids have emerged from the pipe and by now it's all over my face and hair, and before I know it, there are 20 of them all helpless with laughter, pointing at me.
Thankfully, Staff Superman, Róin Shine, all lean and muscular while attired in his unfeasibly tight lycra shorts, arrives to rescue me.
He shouts something to call the students to heel; it might be in Irish or French as he teaches both, and by the time Shine rescues me, there's no turning back -- I am officially a figure of fun.
This was not what I had bargained for when I so naively agreed to accompany the Transition Years on their week away in 'Sports Camp'.
Well, more accurately I had volunteered to help out with making a few phone calls and maybe taking them to the cinema to see educational stuff, the odd French or Italian movie, a Michael Moore documentary -- the sort of thing that gets you out of the classroom and a Big Mac for the day.
But last week, the TY co-ordinator Miss Gossard and my good friend begged me to come down to this hellhole and help out with the supervision and organisation.
Realising that I am the more cerebral kind of educator, they promised to do all the hard work and in a moment of weakness I agreed.
What I didn't realise was that, at tea time, each of the three teachers had to sit at a table with six or seven of the pupils in the former convent that we were holed up in for the week.
There was no way they were going to let me forget that afternoon's humiliation and somehow they'd got it into their heads that I am some kind of a wimp!
That night, I take up my post at the top of the boys' corridor, keeping watch for nighttime jinks in case the girls got any St Trinian's-inspired notions.
Thankfully, everyone seemed too tired but it's with great difficulty that I resist ringing the fire alarm for a fun fire drill.
The next morning makes up for it all, however, and I watch them shivering in the teeming rain as they try to learn to windsurf in the sea.
Most of them are hopeless and by the time they're thoroughly soaked and miserable, I'm there to laugh at them, nice and dry, drinking hot soup from a cup.