First encounters

13th October 2000 at 01:00
Jane Briggs says well done to new 'proper teachers'

Yes... you did it. If, like me, you have just started your first teaching post this term, congratulations. While I am sure many people have commented on the first weeks being over for you, I bet nobody has really praised you enough for this momentous occasion. So, well done. I am proud of all us NQTs.

Like me, I bet you coped with every situation and problem that arose during the week, instead of directing the pupil to a "proper" teacher. You are the proper teacher now. But it still feels strange, doesn't it?

I doubt any of us will ever forget the first days in our new post - the new kid on the block trying to look in control, while feeling far from it; the nerves, anxiety and well-intentioned advice from all angles of the staffroom; the waves of exhaustion that seem to engulf us just as Year 11 comes trooping into the classroom. Do we want to be that innocent and supported PGCE student again, who is allowed to observe a week's-worth of classes before embarking on any kind of teaching? Nah... because, if we are honest, we are enjoying thi.

I am now the boss in my classroom. Pupils no longer constantly look over their shoulders for their "real teacher". I can experiment with lessons and not feel guilty if they go wrong once in a while. Most importantly, I can get to know my classes properly, instead of moving from school to school, like the nomad that a PGCE student definitely is.

I have no doubt I will make it through this year, maybe some days by the skin of my teeth. I will gradually find that all-important morning routine and learn that deciding what to wear for school is best done the night before, as is making my sandwiches and getting petrol for the car.

I will also learn to deal with paperwork as soon as it is given to me. Perhaps, most importantly, I will learn to enjoy my spare time. Lots to learn, but I think I can do it.

Jane Briggs is an NQT at Whitstone community school, Shepton Malletl Are you a PGCE or BEd student, NQT or new classroom assistant? Want to earn pound;100? Write - no more than 450 words - to Jill Craven, The TES, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Or email:

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