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First encounters

Jim Edmiston isn't stressed. He's just harassed.

At certain key moments, we PGCE students share the same stress levels as teachers. Possibly it's part of the training. Squirrelled away in annexe Z of some DfEE circular, there will be a sub-section entitled: "Give 'em hellI they're gonna have to get used to it."

We experienced one of those moments recently. The first week back at college after Christmas was a doddle. Five days of smiles and greetings, swapping tales of the autumn term's teaching practice. Having been scattered like helpless seedlings to schools within a 50-mile radius of our favourite coffee machine, we were able to return with horror stories of our initiation by flood, Railtrack and medium-term planning. But we had grown.

Since that gentle easing back into the academic timetable, however, demands and deadlines have been converging like governors on a plate of chocolate digestives. An English assignment for Monday, a seminar presentation with no fixed date, English and maths college tests, TTA skills tests. Then here are the requirements of subject specialism tutors, and the almighty school file. So, stress all round then.

But wait. Here is someone who doesn't seem so bad. Ah, that's because I'm not stressed. I am harassed. "Harassed" is a much better condition to be in than "stressed". Stress is personal and passive. It may be caused by life, but the condition is psychological, so what is prescribed is individual - rest, pills, personal therapy, running away. With harassment, the pressures still mount, but the focus is on the world that is doing the harassing. We're talking preventive cognitive therapy here. There must be a book on it. Give it a go. You might have to join your local branch of Semantic Shift, but it will be well worth the membership fee.

Jim Edmiston is a mature PGCE student at Bath Spa University Collegel 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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