Many, many years ago, I was teaching in a rough but good school; a lot of the students were very needy for a variety of reasons mostly connected to poverty. We had a great head teacher and we may not have had particularly marvellous results in terms of exams passes, but in terms of turning out better young people with decent job prospects then I think we scored high!
We had a good strong pastoral system, and one of the heads of year (teacher overseeing a particular year group) was my friend Jim. He had gone through college after a variety of other jobs including lorry driving, to become a teacher. He was a great guy (still is!) and was a wonderful head of year, really understanding the kids and with a great sense of humour as you can tell from this story.
Mid-afternoon, and Malik a cheery but wayward lad was late back after lunch. He rang Jim and told him that he was on his allotment because he had problems with his ducks; Jim told him to never mind the problems, just get into school.
“But what shall I do with me ducks, sir?” asked Malik.
“Never mind your ducks, get into school now, lad!”
Malik hurried back to school and bumped into Jim at change of lessons, on the corridor, a live duck tucked under each arm.
“What shall I do with me ducks, sir?” Malik repeated.
“Stick them in my office and get to your lessons!” Jim urged… without thinking this through.
A couple of hours later when Jim returned to his office he had forgotten about the ducks… they had attacked his paperwork and potted palm and left messages all over his books, carpet and furniture… the sort of green, slimy, smelly messages you don’t want from ducks… and they hadn’t been too bothered about whether they stepped in it or not so there were green, slimy, smelly, ducky footprints all over the room.
Jim being Jim, took it in good humour… and enjoyed telling the tale for years after… and so do I!