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Case study: the NQT

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to teach. I suppose it's only natural really as I grew up with teachers all around me. I can remember going into school with my dad, meeting his classes, watching his pupils and making friends with the big boys and girls, then going home, creating a register and having my own class to look after. Now, 20 years later, here it is, a reality. But I could never had imagined how difficult it would be to be Miss Greenshields.

Recently, I've felt the pressure building up, which is a bit worrying, as I've been teaching for only eight months. On average I work nine-and-a-half hours a day in school. I spend this time preparing, planning, meeting other teachers, doing assessments, marking and teaching. When I get home I say a quick hello to my boyfriend, get a cup of tea, set my folders up around me, then settle to do about two hours' work, in which the daytime process seems to repeat itself. Luckily I am in a school where I am given tremendous support from my induction tutor and the other members of staff. They try to make sure I have a life outside teaching and get time to enjoy my job.

When I told people I was seriously thinking of teaching, all the non-teachers said "easy life" and all the teachers said "no life". But no one can describe the pressure of the workload until they experience it. I feel I am constantly being scrutinised, not by my colleagues, but by the various institutions set up to check I am doing my job. Sometimes it feels that with the continuous bombardment of things to do from the Government - and the knowledge that teachers will do almost anything for "their" kids - I'm being taken for granted.

But there is great job satisfaction. I have never experienced such a relationship as the one I have with my class. We work as a team and get on brilliantly. When I'm teaching, all the stresses disappear. This is the best job in the world when you've been teaching fractions to a class of eight-year-olds who just don't get it and then you see a pair of eyes light up, then another and then another.

But come playtime, the stresses and pressures resume as you race to fill in record sheets to show if the children have reached their objective, hurry to set your class up for the next lesson, make sure your photocopying is done and grab a turn in the loo - all that in 20 minutes.

I'm now trying to weigh up the pros and cons of teaching. I could continue to teach full-time and have immense job satisfaction, but get more and more exhausted. I could do supply teaching, where the stresses and pressures are greatly reduced but I would not have that priceless teacher-pupil relationship. Or I could give it up altogether, get a nine-to-five job that pays a lot more, is nowhere near as stressful and when you leave at the end of the day, you really do leave. But, by doing that, I'd lose the inspiration to inspire others and, after all, that is what I came into teaching for - to inspire and to teach.

Anna Greenshields

Anna Greenshields is an NQT at Kingsway primary school, Braunstone, Leicester

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