How to win friends and influence people

First impressions count. The first few weeks in a new job are a time to impress, appear faultlessly efficient and avoid trouble at all costs.

So, naturally, it is when most new teachers make their most embarrassing mistakes, as newly qualified teachers contributing to The TES online staffroom have found. Among the opening gambits best avoided, several list the reckless destruction of school property.

One teacher said: "I drove into the school gate. But it was a sharp corner, and the old head did it too, which kind of made me feel better."

Another volunteered: "I left my coffee next to the laptop, and some children knocked the full cup onto the keyboard. It didn't work after drying out in the airing cupboard."

But many NQTs find that the mix of valuable property and small children is a guaranteed route to disaster. After losing her car keys, one contributor conducted a literacy lesson on stealing, and even compiled a list of suspects. She later discovered she had misplaced the keys.

Another NQT managed to knock her mentor out, hitting her on the head while setting up a computer.

Others have discovered that a little research can go a long way in the classroom. One said: "I congratulated the father of one of my children on the birth of his new son, only to find out that he and the boy's mother are not together any more, and the baby belongs to mother and new boyfriend."

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