Broke, book, mountain

11th July 2008 at 01:00
Everybody tells you how exhausting teaching is, how unpredictable it is, how full of irritating paper pushing and, of course, how rewarding it is
Everybody tells you how exhausting teaching is, how unpredictable it is, how full of irritating paper pushing and, of course, how rewarding it is.

I went into my first term as a student teacher at an inner London secondary thinking I'd heard it all a thousand times and thus I was prepared. How wrong I was. What a difference it is between hearing stories from teachers in the family and experiencing the grind yourself.

After a week or three of wearing my "teacher costume" in September, I had never felt so shattered. Even my hair was tired. I developed that mentally deranged look of many new teachers. I couldn't believe I would make it alive.

Thinking back, I went a bit mad. I would rush from room to room (I'm a nomad teacher) with piles of exercise books in each arm, boxes of highlighters, whiteboard pens and the "Bromcom", shoes falling off and bits of lost paper flying behind.

I could regularly be seen scuttling up the wrong staircase and being laughed at by my pupils for being lost until at least half-term.

I realised with horror that a good degree in English literature 10 years ago did not qualify me at all to teach grammar and I spent hours swotting up. It turned out I didn't know how to spell onomatopoeia but the Year 11s did; and I had no idea what to do when the Year 10s had a mass panic attack about the ladybird invasion and stood on their chairs.

I have just about mastered the difference between complex and compound sentences and got to grips with the geography of the school. Added to that were the productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet that I put on with Year 7s and 8s (they were brilliant) and the laughs I now have with some of the pupils. So I don't feel that terrified of coming back next year ... I think.

Lydia Aers is on the Graduate Teacher Programme at Highbury Fields School in north London.

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