Staff only: The view from both sides of the staff room door
Picture this -- it could be any teacher, but let's say it's me; I'm in the staff room for big break and I put the question out there: "Did any of you find Transition Year unbearable today?" No answer -- just grunting and chewing.
Unabashed by the lack of response, I press on. "That Katie O'Hooligan started it," I rant, "you'd think she'd be able to sit there and watch a really good film without having to turn around and start scribbling on a page, but just at the really serious, touching bit she loses interest and has to get someone's attention no matter what.
"Then there was the really brilliant bit where the main character and his father have their first proper heart-to- heart in years and of course that Dara eejit gets out of his seat and starts hassling me to go to the loo.
"Misses the whole scene! "Makes you wonder if there's anything that they'll concentrate on for more than ten minutes."
I take a bite out of my ham and cheese sandwich and wait for some kind of confirmation of the sheer awfulness of the whole TY mob but even the PE teacher has his face buried in today's Independent.
"Then," I continue, "after class in the corridor, I bump into Jamie Fingerton and he's on his mobile. Talking away on his mobile! Worst of all, to his mother!"
I'm squeaking with indignation now, confident in this gripe session's topical relevance as we recently spent two hours discussing how to handle mobile phone abuse during school hours. "I demanded he hand it over," I continue, "but he just snapped at me; 'Get outta me face' -- the little git. Unbelievable cheek! So I managed to find the deputy principal and left it to him. Whatever good that may do."
Meanwhile in the school canteen, Katie O'Hooligan is with her friends from TY. "I hate that teacher, Grade," she's saying. "Always giving out and moaning. I didn't want to watch that bit in the movie where the ma's in hospital dying. Why would I want to watch that with my ma dead and all?"
Dara nods as he bites into a spiceburger, dripping with ketchup. "Why wouldn't he let me go jacks, the sap, when your man in the film was meeting his da for the first time?"
Katie and Jamie nod their sympathy with Dara.
Then it's Jamie's turn: "My ma told me to keep me phone on as she couldn't get to the labour yesterday and there's nothing to eat in the house and then doesn't she ring me when on me way to woodwork?
"Then she says meet her at the gates and get me lunch off her and then that thick Grade comes along and hassles me. Then me ma came in and made a show of me by eating the face off that deputy principal. She told me to keep me phone on."
Could be any school, at any moment of the day.