"IT WASN'T the waste of time I thought it would be," said Jan Flint, a food technology teacher, as she left the Telewest Arena in Newcastle, along with 4,000 other teachers and support staff.
They had spent Monday morning celebrating the "joy of teaching" and heard speakers telling them what a great job they were doing during a unique, almost evangelical rally, called Teaching 2000, organised by the local education authority.
"Most of us already think we are doing a good job, it's convincing the general public we are that's the tricky part," added Ms Flint, 38, who teaches at the city's Warbottle secondary school.
The morale-boosting pound;25,000 rally, paid for by Newcastle Building Society and Tyneside training and enterprise council, was the brainchild of Ted Hayes, head of PE at Walker school. He brought back the idea from a US teaching exchange trip.
"It struck me what a different attitude they have towards the teaching profession out there. People have so much more belief in their teachers, they are well-
respected," he said.
"Over here, it's a different story. I really feel for young teachers because they have lost respect in our society. If a British student fails, it is automatically their teachers who are to blame."
Most of the audience left the arena smiling, many clearly inspired. But John Rook, 23, a teacher at Leamington middle school, was among a significant minority who weren't completely moved by speakers Gervase Phinn, former teacher and schools inspector, now successful author, and Ted Wragg, professor of education at Exeter University, author and broadcaster.
He felt he ought to have been elsewhere preparing for the new autumn term instead of listening to their anecdotes.
"I suppose it's been good for
everyone to meet up and get the bigger picture. And I suppose it's cheered me up, but I wasn't feeling that low in the first place. I wouldn't like to think I have to come to one of these next year," he said.