Don't tell anyone, but ... I love it

11th January 2008 at 00:00
"It's what we call 'hitting the wall'," I was reliably informed by my university tutor, as myself and several course mates commiserated the first casualty of our PGCE year, while propping up the university bar. One down, 11 to go from the science trainees and news soon filtered through that other subjects were reporting losses too.

As we talked on it transpired that it was a key time for trainee teachers to seriously consider their career choice. The incessant build-up of lesson planning, the endless evaluation, the persistent "constructive criticism", as well as labouring under the weight of yet another set of acronyms, was beginning to take its toll on what struck me as a very tired-looking set of would-be teachers.

That's not even mentioning the fact that several of the walking dead around me seemed to be developing a worrying array of health problems, ranging from trainee teachers' flu to quite severe allergies to children.

As a science trainee I mused that maybe this natural selection was a way of creaming off those who can most ably adapt and cope with the varied and intense demands of teaching today, but I kept such thoughts to myself.

However, as someone who came into my PGCE not knowing whether I genuinely wanted to be a teacher, I find myself in what seems to be a fairly unique position. Due to a set of fortunate circumstances I have found myself on a university course with some great fellow trainees and tutors and at a welcoming school, surrounded by lively children and a supportive department.

On Fridays when we return to university to discuss the disasters of the past week, I find myself quietly and almost sheepishly telling the few that might listen how much I enjoyed the last seven days. Marking my Year 7's work was "a real pleasure" I gush, my Year 9 class was "smiling and polite" at my first lesson and my department mentor was always on hand with some helpful advice.

I try to keep my smugness quiet, for fear that "the wall" is just around the corner. Until then, it remains the truth that quietly (until now), I am a trainee teacher and loving it.

Mike Lamb is studying a secondary science PGCE at Sussex University in Brighton.

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