The family way

18th January 2008 at 00:00
Coming from a family of teachers, I was determined to break the mould. After university I landed a well-paid graduate job with a top supermarket and embarked on my journey as a determined, ambitious retail manager. Three months later, I hated it and then endured possibly the worst two years of my life.

I decided I wanted to work with kids, and my mum (a headteacher) advised me to aim for qualified teacher status for the pay and opportunities, even if I didn't end up teaching.

Two years later, I've been a teaching assistant in a variety of special needs settings, a playworker in significantly deprived areas and a trainee teacher in a challenging urban mainstream school. I have worked with some of the most disaffected pupils in Manchester.

Times of despair (being barricaded in a room by three pupils when one kicked off because he was given pink shorts for swimming as he forgot his own) have been balanced by times of triumph (having a deputy head ask me to remove an ADHD pupil from a room as he refused to move for anyone else).

The highest point was attending a viewing at The Manchester Cornerhouse of a film produced by, and featuring, pupils with a range of special needs.

I've just completed my first weeks as a new teacher and while I'm aware that Year 7 last thing on a Friday won't always be as perfect as in the first week of term (I wanted to cry, they were so well behaved), I'm confident that I have enough experience and determination to rise to any challenge they throw at me. Despite the rollercoaster ride that has been the past two years, I am sure teaching is the right choice for me. This wouldn't have been the case without the fantastic mentors, managers and headteachers I have worked for, and with, over the past two years.

The highlight of this week has been, when teaching how to round to one or two significant figures (s.f), I told them my friend calls them sausage fingers with his class, to help them remember. A pupil asked if we could call them smelly feet instead. After examples of rounding to one smelly feet and two smelly feet, one pupil piped up: "Miss, shouldn't it be a smelly foot if there's only one of them?"

Kate Banfield is a new teacher in Manchester.

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