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I didn't expect this

If someone had told me a year ago that I'd be enthusing about my job to other NQTs, I wouldn't have believed them.

I did my induction last year, and it got off to a shaky start. My first teaching job was in a good school, with extremely supportive staff and a friendly class of five and six-year-olds.

Living in a part of the city that has a lot of tough schools, I knew I was lucky. But those first months were horrible. My life had undergone a complete change and I felt tired and overwhelmed. I was stressed out, I couldn't sleep and I felt exhausted and tearful much of the time. Life seemed bleak and I couldn't see things changing.

Things certainly picked up after Christmas. All the seasonal stress (Christmas production, end-of-term assessments and so on) had gone, and in the holiday I had managed to get a good rest, so I came back to school refreshed and ready to make a fresh start with my class.

After Christmas, work got better and better. And what a difference a year makes - a six-week break, a new set of pupils and a fresh perspective.

This time around, the first couple of weeks were tough - but I'd expected them to be and was prepared. I knew things would get better. I'd learnt that I can't expect myself to be "excellent" all the time, and to appreciate that I am improving day by day.

Of course, I don't mean that my job is always fabulous, but there is a huge difference in the way that I feel now compared with how it all was a year ago. I still have a list of things to do that's as long as my arm. But take heart - things get better.

Erica Johnson teaches at St Saviour primary school in Lambeth, south London

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