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First encounters

A few months ago I led the life of a normal 25-year-old. I saw my friends. I went shopping. Evenings existed, and I saw daylight on Sundays. All that has now been swamped with planning and marking, derived from a timetable which seems suspiciously similar to those of experienced teachers who know what they're doing.

And yes, on closer inspection, I seem to have just one more free period than my super-efficient, wonderwoman mentor and my head of department.

A valiant effort by my school to "protect NQTs from cover until half term" lasted all of a week. So many a precious free could be pinched from our lighter timetable. I've already asked my head of department if he thinks it would be a good literacy move to have 30 minutes of silent reading in my lessons. I'm all for it, especially if I can read the new Harry Potter.

There are a few good points: my department could not contain a more supportive and likeable bunch. My mentor is a legend; I would not have survived without her. Also, wth four NQTs in science there's a great sense of "we will survive".

I often find myself doing reality checks. Last Friday, the pupils had to be in their own clothes and were in high-spirits during lunchtime. I awaited my Friday afternoon Year 11 lesson on hormones with some foreboding. As I surveyed the scene, with all of them in their funky gear, looking very sharp and trendy, I thought: "if I saw you lot in the town centre on a Saturday I'd be quite intimidated, but here you all are, happily pondering and scribbling down the positive design features of the testicle and drawing sperms."

So at half term I'm undecided as to whether the good points outweigh the bad, but I'm told that after a while (a year) they will.

Sally Collins is a science NQT in Bromley, Kentl Are you a PGCE or BEd student, NQT or new classroom assistant? Want to earn pound;100? Write, no more than 450 words, to Jill Craven, Friday magazine, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BXEmail: jill.craven@tes.co.uk

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