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Student talk

As probation year is just around the corner, I can report that at last I am showing signs of becoming a proper teacher: I am a biscuit connoisseur; regularly hear myself talking like Joyce Grenfell; and have become an inveterate collector of junk - egg boxes, milk bottle tops, margarine tubs - which I invent some fantastical use for and stuff into a plastic bag on the back of my kitchen door.

I look at children's books with a new eye and, mentally, I collect those as well: this one will be good for our family topic; that one will help illustrate a point in maths, and this one will make them laugh.

I have rediscovered my childhood love of drawing and I have started learning to play the ukulele, although this has been sporadic. My cousin gave it to me for Christmas and I launched on this new musical adventure with the enthusiasm of a caterpillar in a salad bar, thinking it would be useful in the classroom. But, in the all-too-rare spare moments I have had to pick it up, I've only managed to learn one song, "The Wheels on the Bus".

My initial Rumsfeldian doubts remain. I still worry about what I am supposed to know, what I know I don't know, and what I don't know I don't know. But I take heart from the pearls cast in an early lecture on behaviour management, which cited a 50-year survey of children's views about what makes a popular, "high status" teacher. This unsung superhero was assertive, trusting, respectful, enthusiastic, humorous, encouraging and . fragrant.

Yes, apparently, to be a good teacher, you have to smell nice. Naturally, I have refused to leave anything to chance and spray on perfume each morning. At least I know that I meet one of the criteria.

It is that time of year when everyone keeps talking about the "light at the end of the tunnel". We have seven weeks to go until the end of term, four weeks until the end of our final placement and all assignments complete. Unfortunately, my tunnel is in a state of near-collapse and I am buried alive in paperwork.

The camaraderie of fellow students helps. "Not long now, eh?" we say in weary greeting when we occasionally bump into each other in the library at the weekend. "No point in giving up. We'll get there!" I have yet to hear someone say: "Nice perfume!" But I live in hope.

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