The first few weeks

Sarah Bubb

Culture shock; I think that sums up quite well my feelings about this first six weeks. At first I was surprised to be finding the environment so scary; I thought four years of teaching IT (despite the obvious subject change) in the private and public sectors would have stood me in good stead. It is amazing what difference 20 or 30 teenagers make to what I would have previously considered a well planned lesson. Thankfully the good people of Westwood seem to be prepared for the fact that I am not the polished teaching product and that I will need help - and lots of it.

My subject mentor is a great help; as a busy HoD he does not have a great deal of free time; but he always tries to answer questions (and I have many). The other teachers are very supportive too and I am learning much from watching them in action and listening to their experiences. That is one of the great things about the graduate teacher programme; even though I already have responsibility for several of my own classes (all post-16 for now) I have lots of lesson observation which gives me a great insight into the finer workings of a well planned lesson, especially those with the National Literacy Strategy - still getting my tongue around that one - fully implemented.

Discipline is one of my greatest worries (teenage children are not generally known for their exemplary manners) and I have been used to adults who come to your lesson because generally they want to learn and - most of the time - they are fairly well behaved. At the moment, I still have the mark of 'new teacher' and it is only natural that some of the children will smell the fear.

I had an interesting experience when covering some lessons in week three; a rather excitable group of Year 10s decided they were not playing the teacher- pupil game. I seriously reconsidered my options that evening (over a bottle of red wine and a box of tissues fed from my very understanding and soon to be long-suffering other half!) The school have promised that I do not have to cover again (well, not until I'm qualified anyway). I have since been comforted by other teachers' horror stories of first teaching years across the various parts of the country and am appeased that it happens to us all! Some of the stories on the New Teachers section of the TES website discussion forum make my experiences seem very positive and our children angelic!

Next term I shall be team teaching the classes that are being observed at the moment, although I am already helping out in some of the lessons. After that, I will be taking them on all by myself in the third term. This is a something of a daunting thought at the moment, but my fears are gradually dissipating, so I should be OK by then, although my face has developed a nasty habit of turning red, even when the children are behaving. Someone please tell me this is a passing phase - as beetroot isn't really my colour.

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Sarah Bubb

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