Wednesday, 28 July 2010


Towards the end of the year when an exam clashes with one of your classes a teacher might be asked to invigilate in the exam hall. I'm sure all of you educated types can remember being in exams and might be mildly aware of having had invigilators in there.

The role basically involves pacing up and down the rows of students with a serious look on your face handing out the occasional rubber or pencil, answering painfully obvious questions, not answering actual exam questions and dishing out tissues to snotty noses.

It's quite often a relief near the end of term to have an hour of (sort of) non contact time. However get too many in a week and it gets very old very quickly. Another more experienced teacher inducted me into a game to take away some of the boredom. Best played in pairs.

Step 1: Wait till the students are deep into the exam and writing away furiously.
Step 2: Pace (with a serious look on your face) to the back of the hall then turn round. If in pairs your partner will be at the front of the hall facing backwards towards you.
Step 3: Now all of the students backs will be facing you. Aim yourself down the narrow row between the desks. Close your eyes.Step 4: Pace slowly (with a serious look on your face AND your eyes closed) down the aisle.
Step 5: Keep your nerve for as long as you can and see who can make it furthest down the hall without smashing into a table and falling over sending exam papers cascading everywhere.

Oh how we laughed.

On the flipside of this whimsical pastime I had the misfortune to be present in an exam to witness the negative side of teachers who have taken up the position to do nothing but bully people younger and smaller than themselves. Thankfully I haven't seen too much of this but it clearly happens. Wankers.

Anyway I was asked to invigilate a maths exam and at the start of it the demonic maths teacher in charge barked out complicated instructions and orders to the terrified year eights.

"If you do not have a calculator with you we WILL NOT provide you with one.
If you do not have a pencil we WILL NOT provide you with one
If you do not have a protractor we WILL NOT provide you with one.

blah blah blah. I understand that the students need to take responsibility for themselves but the manner of telling them was just disgusting. Anyway he informed all staff to also obey his rules and not hand any out.

I happened to be near one student who put his hand up and explained to the teacher that he had brought a calculator with him but it had broken in his bag.


The boy cowered in his seat and started the exam.
At this point I picked up a calculator (from the pile of about 100 that were on the front table in the exam room) and put it in my pocket. I waited till the teacher had moved away to intimidate some other 13 year old and moved to the kid and slipped him the calculator and made a shhh gesture with my finger.

I felt like Oskar Schindler.

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