Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Luke Carter

Supply Teacher

It was Monday, and my first week working with the class. I was supposed to be taking them for three months for English while Jill Bennie was on maternity leave.
I only met her once, to get the lesson plans, and she seemed very nice, very calm. She spoke positively of them, ‘a good bunch of Year 10’s’ were her exact words. The lessons, too, were supposed to be very straightforward. They had been reading I’m the King of the Castle by Susan Hill and I was fine with that; I was quite familiar with the book.
So, on the first day, I hoped to pick up right where Jill left off and I had re-read the whole book to refresh myself, but anyway, I don’t know, the kids just didn’t agree. Right from the start they had made their minds up that the lesson was to become a doss. It started very gradually. At first it was testing the water, seeing what they could get away with, throwing paper balls, that kind of stuff. But as the day went on, it seemed to get worse. Some of them just didn’t care what they did or what would happen to them.
Not everyone, mind you. I tried to focus my attention on the better ones, the ones who actually wanted to do the work, but it was almost impossible with the rest of them, jeering and shouting, climbing on tables and throwing chairs and books.
There were two boys in particular, Reese and Alex, bigger than me, who always sat at the back – the ringleaders I’m sure. Maybe they saw a weakness, an opportunity, but they bullied me in that classroom just as much as everyone else.
When things had not improved by Tuesday, I went immediately to the Headmaster and told him what was happening. At first he suggested sending anyone who misbehaved straight to him. However, after explaining I had already done this, and that the majority simply ignored me or bunked off, he offered to come personally to my class first thing Wednesday morning, which at the time I appreciated. Except he didn’t come and things only got worse. There was fighting, screaming, a few played football and others were running across tables. And that’s when I heard Reese and Alex, blaring music from a mobile and egging on everyone around them. It was chaos.
I don’t know why I did it, why then, but I marched up to the two of them and I grabbed that mobile and I threw it as hard as I could. I overreacted, I admit, but they had driven me to it. Reese, the taller of the two stood up and shoved my shoulder. He shouted endless profanities at me; asked me what the hell I was doing; threatened that he was going to sue and telling me how lucky I was that he didn’t ‘smack me’. I remember him spitting every word, his face centimetres from mine.
I was frightened and before I knew it I had reached out. I slapped him hard around the face but not as hard as he made out or how he’d have you believe, not hard enough for him to fall down the way he did, to roll on the floor screaming. And, well, that’s when the Headmaster decided to turn up. I can still see the horror in his face, standing at the door. And before I knew it, the police arrived, shoved me around like a criminal and brought me here.
My lawyer has advised I plead guilty – I don’t disagree.

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