First encounters

18th February 2000 at 00:00
Rebecca Wade finds being a teacher is her only option

I sigh as my final teaching practice draws to an end. A sigh of relief? Is it contentment or tiredness? It's all of these things, because I'm shattered. For the past 11 weeks, I've lived two hours away from home and have lived, breathed and - when I've managed to - slept and dreamed teaching. It feels as if it's all I've ever done.

After three termly placements over four years, I've come across a range of pupils at different levels and I've enjoyed teaching them all. I've enjoyed the challenge, whether it's been how to incorporate ICT into schemes of work, how to get across tectonic plates to a class of pupils who could neither read or write, or simply to ensure PaulJamesEmmaSam will sit still and listen for five minutes. I've enjoyed watching pupils' knowledge grow, marking their work, rewarding their efforts and watching their faces light up when they suddenly understand something they've been struggling with.

However, I'm relieved it's over. I've finally gained QTS and am now professional enough to be a teacher. Yes, I have mastered the advanced skills of drinking boiling coffee in five minutes and how not to use a TV or video. I can also regularly use classic phrases such as "Well you're all making so much noise, I take it you've all finished that work!". I can't walk round Tesco's without being recognised, and for some reason pupils immediately assume I'm over 30 (even though I'm just 22).

All those observations, lesson plan checks, "focused episodes", evaluations, equipment lists,classroom moves, merit slips, complaint slips and tutors or teachers advicesupportcriticismevaluation (delete as appropriate) are finally over. Next time I'll be alone in my classroom without all the pressures of being watched... or will I?

Well, not really. There's still the probationary year to get through. Of course I won't be monitored on such a scale - I'll be more autonomous and in control of what I teach, or rather how I teach it, although the prospect of a full timetable doesn't fill me with glee.

But the real question is, do I really want to do this? Will I be scanning The TES for NQT secondary science posts? After all, the pay is far from great and the hours are hardly as advertised, although the holiday rewards are not bad (still, you can't take off when you want or need to).

Plus, I'll have to go through that whole initiation process again of which chair not to sit on in the staffroom and which mug to drink from.

What else can I do with a science degree? Loads, I hear you all cry. Yes, but what could I do that interests me like teaching does? Yes, I'm stressed, tired and run-down. But I enjoy teaching. I get a buzz from it. I thrive on the interaction with my pupils and seeing their progress. It's rewarding and each day is different.

Besides, if I don't end up teaching, what else will I do in the evenings when my boyfriend is planning, writing reports, marking, making resources or sleeping because he's too tired to do anything else?

Rebecca Wade is a BSc (Ed) student in her final year at Exeter University.

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