It was only for an hour or so, and I was adamant that it would be productive. I really didn’t see a problem. I didn’t really need to be anywhere else.
I get paid very little for what I do; nowhere near enough, frankly. The teachers look down on us teaching assistants if I’m being honest – even the kids know we’re not teachers. Not really. But we work hard, and we get very little credit despite the fact that it’s often our job to take the tougher, more disruptive, academically challenged pupils out of the classroom. I was owed a free hour. To do what I wanted. No-one would know; no-one would care.
The Year 8 lad I usually supported at this time on a Wednesday had been sent home for swearing at a teacher. I could have wandered into a handful of other lessons to assist; there was even a display in the English department that required completion, but I couldn’t be bothered. The staff room was deserted and the computers were free.
I began by checking my e-mails; the usual stuff that went out to all members of staff and wasn’t of any particular relevance to me but, inevitably, I began browsing websites to quench my thirst for film and footy gossip. But a dozen or so minutes into reading about the latest transfer rumours and a review of the latest mediocre Marvel comic movie, I began to feel guilty. I was blatantly and undeniably breaking a commandment; I was stealing. A sneaky, no-need-to-justify type of stealing which I imagine most of us are guilty of now and again. I may not have stolen an old lady’s purse or a packet of skittles, but I was stealing time from work. Time that I was getting paid for.
I lacked a huge chunk of something I try to live by daily: integrity. The four months I’d been working in this school, as I gain the experience that will hopefully result in my landing a place on the PGCE teaching course next year, I’ve made a good impression; been a good role model. I engage with the kids, they seem to respond to me – the Senior Vice Principle is even trying to create a support position in order to keep me on in September.
Ephesians 6:7 reads: ‘Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.’ God is always watching, even when I almost convince myself that there must be a million and six bigger sins taking place.