Chapter Six

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       It had been a monumental week. By Friday, Connie's internal battery was down to one bar. She'd met all of her classes and learned almost two hundred boys' names. Without doubt, her favourite group was her sixth form class. In the first year of their French A-Level, she only saw them for one lesson a week. She was pretty certain Richard was testing her skills as a teacher before he fully let her loose on his most precious students, and she didn't blame him for that at all! He'd asked her to focus on the boys' spoken French, spending the first half term working her way through a series of general conversation topics that they would need to prepare for the oral exam in the spring term. He'd pretty much given her free rein in choice of subject, with her aim being to get the boys talking with confidence and spontaneity. The first lesson, where they had listened to then discussed the song lyrics of a track by one of her favourite French bands, had been so enjoyable and had flown past so quickly that the boys had had to gently point out that Connie had run over into the next teaching period by more than five minutes and her year seven class were running riot in the corridor outside the classroom! These boys were such a breath of fresh air after a second, disastrous encounter with her year eleven group that they gave Connie a much-needed Friday afternoon boost.                

       As she prepared to back Marjorie out of her parking space in the staff car park at four o'clock, stifling a yawn and looking forward to the long bath she planned to take that evening, Connie nearly jumped out of her skin when there was a sharp rap on the drivers' side window. It was Rolf. He was already out of school uniform, dressed in another festival tee shirt and trainer combo, a skateboard tucked under one arm.

"Hey, Rolf," Connie said, winding down the window.

"Hey, Connie. I hoped to catch you earlier, between the last two lessons, but you seemed reluctant to finish your sixth form class," he grinned.

"Oh god, I know! I was so embarrassed. They had to remind me of the time. My year sevens were kicking off in the corridor outside and, of course, Mr. Carr had to choose exactly that moment to walk past!"

"Don't worry," said Rolf, "everyone loves working with the sixth form. Anyway, I just wanted to make sure your first week has gone okay and to ask if you need any help from me in my official capacity as your buddy?"

"That's really thoughtful of you," said Connie. "Everything's gone pretty well, actually. You could teach my year elevens for me though, if you really want to be helpful?" she laughed, looking more cheerful than she felt.

"Have they been difficult for you?" asked Rolf.

"Not difficult, as such. They're not behaving badly or anything like that. They're just totally disinterested. I feel like I might as well forget about trying to plan interesting lessons for them and just ask them to copy out sections of the textbook for forty minutes instead. They'd probably show as much enthusiasm. They just seem to be marking time until they leave and they can forget about French forever."

"But instead you're putting lots of time and effort into carefully crafted activities but the boys remain as engaged as an aged spinster?" guessed Rolf.

Connie snorted.

"That's one way of putting it," she laughed.

"Let me get my thinking cap on," said Rolf, Connie loving the slightly offbeat juxtaposition of chillin' indie kid and antiquated turn of phrase. "I'll see you on Saturday for your painting party so perhaps we can find time to have a chat then?" he suggested.

"You're coming?" asked Connie.

"Of course! Em asked me to organise some music for later on, actually. I think she probably plans to discontinue the 'painting' after dusk and focus whole heartedly on the 'party' element of the event," he laughed.

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