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From here to eternity

For any trainee, stepping out in front of a roomful of pupils and taking charge is a pulse-quickening prospect. Anthea Davey offers advice, and PGCE students and tutors offer more

Nina Graham, above, is convinced that her career-swap is the last she will make "I chose to go into teaching because my previous job, marketing, wasn't fulfilling. Teaching seems to have more options. It offers what I want from now until retirement. Also, I've loved English since school and wanted to use my subject knowledge.

My first block of teaching practice is in November. We start the PGCE course with a two-day visit to observe and speak to teachers in a school.

We also have a part of the course called 'perspectives on professional values and practice', in which we do observation and group work.

The most exciting aspect about the course is getting into the classroom and actually teaching. It's very hard to imagine what it will be like in training. We can be told a lot, but until you're up there you just don't know.

Everyone on my course is keen to experience the practical side. We want to interact with the students and work in our subject area. I also want to get to know the students and the whole-school community. We'll be placed in two different schools and the college takes into account our interests: for example, special educational needs.

In terms of the actual teaching, I suppose everyone has worries, such as classroom management. You hear and read stories that sound like nightmares - "Like I was locked in a cupboard". We're all nervous about managing class behaviour and not having a riot on our hands, but I know that it all comes with experience. I'm also concerned about workload. Teachers I've met have stressed it's an issue keeping up with marking and assessment, but until I start there's no point in really worrying about it.

I understand the relationship with the mentor will be really important, but if they're anything like our college tutor, who's fantastic, it'll be great. Hopefully, they'll be sympathetic and enthusiastic. I know they're doing a full-time job as well as looking after us, so we have to be careful not to step on their toes."

Nina, 27, is studying for a PGCE in secondary (English) at Bath Spa University College

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