Don't do what I did - I sit frozen. The boy has reached his underpants

10th July 2009 at 01:00

I am 21 years old, an English language assistant, alone in charge of a class of 18-year-old Spanish boys, when one of them decides to do a striptease.

It is 1979 and Spain is a new democracy. The staffroom of this boys' secondary school is heady with political debate and occasionally the discussion gets so heated it runs into lesson time. I have been left to get on with it. Unfortunately the boys' cultural legacy has not kept up with the country's new freedom, and as a pretty Northern Irish girl I am fodder for their "macho" behaviour.

I sit frozen in front of the class. The boy has reached his underpants. Half of his classmates are shouting encouragement; a few have the decency to look embarrassed. He prances around, playing for time.

The bell rings. The look of relief on my face is matched only by the look of relief on his. I vow never to become a teacher.

Fast forward 30 years and I am a modern foreign languages PGCE student in charge of a lively, mixed class of 15-year-old state school pupils. I have decided to take a risk and try something new. Having learnt a short script off by heart in French, I plan to act out a young person's story of being prevented from going out by her parents.

I launch into my monologue and become a stroppy teenager. My class looks stunned. "OK," I say. "You've got the vocabulary, now write your own play."

They quickly get into groups, starting to collaborate and write. I stand for a few seconds, happily taking in the scene.

So don't do what I did and be put off at the first sign of trouble and, remember, it's never too late. There is wonderful support for new teachers and, at last, I am glad that I have become one.

Rosemary Sanderson has just completed her PGCE. Email your NQT experiences to If we publish your story, you will receive Pounds 50 in Mamp;S vouchers.

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