Professional development is a journey of self-discovery. To help you along the way, TESS is offering an ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek series of questions that will uncover who you really are. Supportive colleague or anxious newbie? Passionate part-timer or management material? Log on to www.tesconnect.comquiz to find out the truth.
But before you bare your soul, do you recognise this silent superwoman?
ISLA THE INVISIBLE TECHNICIAN
When the students return after break, someone has already set everything up with care and precision; each place setting is identical, with pristine worksheets duplicated and ready to be filled in.
As the students pour through the doors, Isla retreats, wraithlike, towards the preparation room. There she begins to assemble resources for the lesson after lunch. It is her space, a windowless sanctuary where she has control. Beakers and phials glisten beneath the fluorescent strip light; test tubes stand regimented in racks on the higher shelves; squat glass jars of various chemicals and compounds sit snugly inside locked cabinets - everything has its rightful place. In the corner, her monitor glows, the keeper of all her secrets. It tells her what has been broken, what has been ordered, class sizes and the names of children who can't work with this particular chemical or that piece of equipment.
Back in the classroom, the students are feasting on a young trainee teacher as he struggles to impart safety instructions. Isla reaches for her iPod Shuffle. Could she have done any better?
Twenty-three years of watching younger teaching colleagues suffer have given her the answer. She frowns and chastises herself for allowing those judgemental thoughts to steal into her mind. She has always kept her distance from other support staff who gossip about the teachers over their avocado salads.
The lesson is over. As the last drifters drag their rucksacks out through the doors, Isla returns silently to deal with the aftermath. The young teacher smiles sheepishly at her, then stoops to retrieve incomplete worksheets from the floor. Isla pushes her glasses up her nose, takes a deep breath and bends to help him. She assesses the damage: two smashed test tubes and a melted gel pen. She's known far worse.