First encounters

29th September 2000 at 01:00
Nicola Kelly survives with the help of biscuits

So this is the easy option then. For people who can't think of anything better to do. For people out for a quick pound;6,000, no commitment attached. At university I was "the one interested in education". Here I seem to be "the one without any experience in a British classroom".

I'm organised, I told myself. I'm committed. I got through the interview. True, the maths audit left me a little queasy. Sitting with a slightly dazed expression in front of a table of maths specialists, proudly and desperately clutching my luminous green magical calculator designed especially for language students, wasn't one of my better feel-good strategies.

After the scary lecture that accompanies the start of every course I have taken, I look at the timetable and decide - new coloured pens in hand - to get organised. Stay one step ahead.I do not panic easily. I am not averse to hard work. I like the chance to take on a practical challenge.

Half an hour and a page and a half into my beautifully coloured and ncreasingly despairing list of varied required tasks, standards, assignments - not to mention the hopeful sounding expectations - and tonight I am Little Miss Can't Breathe Panic Attack Pass Me The Paper Bag.

Half a packet of bargain chocolate bourbons and I'm back on form. I develop a fab scheme of colour-coded, cross-referenced, sectioned, sub-sectioned, abbreviation-laden lists to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Map in hand I set out to implement my plan. Apparently, though, no one yet makes files to match the science orange, geography brown, and art and design in-between orange and brown of the national curriculum. The rest of the bargain bourbons down and I am now the proud owner of 18 black files and a few hundred white sticky labels. Week one and I've survived. Still keen. Still committed. I'm a little hazy on exactly how organised one person can actually be, but with my new files, handbooks, guidelines and chocolate bourbons ahoy, I'm up for the challenge.

Nicola Kelly is a PGCE student at Manchester University

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